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  • Writer's pictureTheresa Verboort

Call Missing

Updated: Jul 15, 2020

One thing I'll never forget is the time I was faced with a male visitor wanting me to come down from my tower. The Forest Service encouraged us to open our lookout to visitors, to show them what we did and how it worked. So I usually welcomed the occasional visitor who asked to come up. One day, a man claiming he wanted to look at my map to check out mushroom hunting sites asked to come up. I was uneasy about it, since he was by himself and so was I. But, mindful of the policy, I let him up. He came up, looked at the map and tried to chat me up. I managed to edge him out the door and back down the stairs, feeling much relieved once I had the trap door fastened over the stairwell. He left and I didn't think much more about it.

A few days later, he was back. He came up the stairs and wanted to come up. This time I decided against it. Then he tried to talk me into coming down and having "a picnic" with him. I told him it was against company policy so I couldn't do it. He persisted in hanging around, trying to convince me that he had a nice picnic lunch and he wanted to share it with me. I didn't dare step away, because one of my daring friends had insisted in climbing out into space and pulling himself up through the railing onto the deck of my tower. So I knew it could be done if you are crazy enough.

Through my open door, I could hear the shortwave radio calling my station to check in. This was something we did every hour that we were on duty for safety's sake. Fearing the guy would try my friend's stunt, I didn't answer it. So I stood there, trying to convince him that this wasn't going to happen. Finally, after a good forty minutes of cajoling, he gave up and left.

I immediately went in and called headquarters to tell them what happened and let them know that I was okay. They notified the state police, who came out to look for the man. They found him nearby, parked on a side road, passed out from booze. It turned out that he had been released from the state mental hospital just a few days previously. I think they sent him back.

I was really glad I hadn't let him up again and was much more cautious after that about letting strangers in to my nest.

The Coos Forest Service looked out for their fire watch people, and we all had to check in every hour and, if we needed to leave the station for a trip to the outhouse or hauling water, we had to let them know. I always felt pretty safe there.

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