The Fickle Finger of Fate

Castlegar News bi-weekly columnist Karen Haviland reflects on past events, and what may have been.

I want to talk about life, its quirks and close calls.

We all know about life, sometimes too painfully. We all know about quirks and how they relate to life, and we all know about close calls – as in driving by an accident in which we would have been involved had we not run back to get our gloves, the grocery list or any number of other things which change our lives in ways we could only imagine.

I want to tell you about Donna Resch and Columbus, Ohio.

During the early 1970s I was a young mother living in Columbus, and doing her best to provide for a son who had an absent father.

I was 20 or so, and had few skills. So when I landed a job as a rental agent for a huge apartment complex I was thrilled to finally have a job which would pay my rent and put food on the table.

My job was to show apartments at the complex. Simple, right? People would come in and enquire about an apartment for rent and I would grab the keys and show them several apartments which met their requirements and their budget.

Quite honestly, it was a boring job, but it meant providing for me and my son and I was happy to have employment. Little did I think that I daily put myself at risk for any perverts or predators who might have something else on their minds besides securing a place to live. You have to remember that this was back in the early ‘70s when employee safety was the least of an employer’s concern.

Can you imagine a young lady nowadays showing an apartment to someone without any safety considerations in place? Back then there were no precautions whatsoever. I shiver even now thinking about bringing men into apartments without anyone knowing where I was. I should add that, basically, I worked by myself and so if I went missing, it could be several hours before anyone would realize that something was wrong.

I shared my position with a buxom, older lady. Her name was Donna Resch. Donna was everything I wasn’t. I was boy-built and dressed as a 20-something should have dressed. I was conservative and quite the dull flower beside her.

One day I was called into the office by the boss. Without a blink of the eye he fired me. He told me the reason he fired me was because I didn’t dress right for the job. I was flabbergasted. My clothes were clean, ironed and respectable. But I know now that I was no Donna Resch. What I wore didn’t quite sell, if you know what I mean.

I was shocked and hurt and really couldn’t fathom what he was saying. What was wrong with the way I dressed?

Eventually I moved on. The world was mine to conquer and after time the whole distasteful moment was consigned to history.

It wasn’t until almost 30 years later I discovered that Donna had fallen victim to a predator. Evidently she was showing an apartment when an opportunist took her life. According to reports, that was only two or so weeks after I was fired.

What I later learned is that she was a victim of Ted Bundy, the infamous serial killer from Seattle who came into the office looking for a place to rent.

I frequently think about how I escaped an early demise and I often wonder what hand intervened to keep me safe and sound.

It makes me shiver and question the great stroke of fate which kept me safe.

Sometimes life has a way with its quirks and twists and I’m just grateful that fate decided that my day had not yet come.