What would you do if you came home to find strangers sitting in your home as if it were their own?
It’s not such a silly question.
Usually it is landlords that have problems with squatters when a property has been left empty awhile. If someone gains entry without actually breaking an entry or causing damage it’s not an easy task to get them to leave and you would have to apply for a court order. This can take quite a number of weeks, if not months in some cases.
Terrible when you think about it, especially if it is your actual home. Some more wealthy people are having to hire security guards to make sure their homes don’t get invaded while they are away.
So how would you react if you came home and found strangers occupying your space?
I had a small taster of what this would feel like many years ago. I was in my late teens enjoying a holiday in France with my best friend. We’d found a lovely youth hostel in La Rochelle and a couple of days into the holiday we hit the beach happy to lie around on it all morning without a care in the world.
Around lunchtime we decided to head back to our room to get changed. When I tried to open the door to our room I found it locked. Suddenly the door opened and a very tall German lad stood grinning at me. I checked up and down the corridor, this was definitely our room so I told him so. Luckily he understood English. He laughed “oh no, it is our room!”
I persisted arguing with him in a nonsensical way until he invited me in to see for myself that our belongings had totally vanished and in their place were rucksacks etc belonging to him and his friends. His friends sat grinning at us, highly amused.
We weren’t amused at all, and somewhat confused we headed to reception and I let forth my best French swear words at the person behind the counter. Immediately we were led to a cupboard where our belongings had been unceremoniously dumped! Apparently they were going to move us to a smaller room but hadn’t expected us back so early.
So I can identify a little with my main character Jayne Patchett in The Eight of Swords when she returns home to find her key won’t turn in the lock. She lives alone so she knows something is seriously wrong when she can’t get in to her own house. I remembered my confusion and exasperation well when I was writing about hers. Of course her situation is far worse than mine was.
Probably the most amusing thing to come out of my brief experience of having my room invaded by strangers was my friend’s reaction to my sudden ability to swear so eloquently in French! She was very impressed.
Jayne Patchett in The Eight of Swords has a much more interesting and difficult experience than mine and it goes to show you can’t always know how you will react in such a bizarre situation.
The Eight of Swords is available now on Amazon Kindle, it’s a short story.
Click on the link below to buy. If you don’t have a Kindle you can still download the ebook to your pc or another device.