Monday, January 19, 2009

Not My Valentine

Valentine's Day items have been on the shelves since approximately the day after Christmas, and I've generally steered my cart right on past until last night when I was at the store and feeling extra lovey about my sweet Tom and wanted to see if there might be a little something to bring home to make him smile.

My mind was kind of wrapped up browsing bubble gum scented heartshaped items we don't need when a guy with a bit of a gangster-ish look came into the aisle and said "hi," to which I replied "hi." Next he asked me what I was going to buy him, and even though I'm sure he was joking, it was kind of weird, so I replied something about "sorry, nothing this year," and I started heading out of the aisle now heavy with the weight of awkward and uncomfortable. As I headed out of of the short but claustrophobically narrow aisle, his friend appeared in front of my cart, grabbed hold of the corner held onto it just long enough to further add to the uncomfortable atmosphere going on in the aisle and to creep me completely the hell out before he let go. It was probably nothing, but I'm glad I left the aisle.

A few minutes later they appeared where I was again and joked about me following them. I smiled weakly while I wanted to throw up in my mouth because I just felt so very much not at ease. It was probably nothing, but I'm glad I didn't engage them in chat.

I wandered around the store a bit more, but when I realized that I was spending too much energy wondering if they were going to appear again, I decided that I'd just call it done, check out and leave. It probably saved me a few bucks anyway by doing so. I paid for my less than 20 items, smiled at the guy at the door who makes sure you aren't stealing anything and started to walk out the door, except that there they were. The same two guys, just standing there talking to one another all nonchalantly. It was probably nothing, but I'm glad I didn't walk out the door.

I called Tom immediately and let him know what was going on and that I just didn't feel safe. He offered to drive over there just to walk me out safely, but I wanted to give it some time. I watched moms with their babies cruising right on past and thought it was maybe kind of silly of me to hang back in fear. These guys hadn't talked to them, though, hadn't made them feel afraid of Very Bad Things happening. I wouldn't have thought twice about it either in their shoes. And so I waited. I waited and watched as tons of people left and plenty more came in. I waited and watched until I saw the two guys finally leave. Then I waited just a bit more until a big and strong looking man with just one small plastic bag was headed out, hoping he'd get involved if need be, and I kept my eyes peeled while I made a beeline to my car. It was probably nothing, but I'm glad I erred on the side of caution.

Maybe I'm over paranoid after that one time that I'm sure wasn't just probably nothing. It's not like I live in complete fear and never leave my house, but maybe I think about scary possibilities more than some people and try to listen to my gut in defense of those possibilities. I appreciate good men who do things like literally going out of their way, such as sometimes crossing over to the other side of the parking lot row instead of right behind a woman just to help a woman feel more at ease, but I'm not sure how many most guys think of little actions like this, and I wonder how many women even notice. I notice, and it makes my life easier. Looking thuggish and acting creepy and then loitering just outside when I'm about to exit is the opposite of that. And I notice. It was probably nothing, but Tom was glad for my gift of being cautious more than something heartshaped from the Valentine's Day aisle (well, he doesn't know they also had his favorite chocolates in that aisle - still, I bet he'd pick me safe in his arms than those melting in his belly, right Tom?).

I brought me home, and Tom smiled.

17 comments:

  1. ugh that's scary. i held my breath the entire time reading this. can i just say (yell) that I HATE WHEN THIS HAPPENS??!!

    I have a post that I have not yet published called "Running Scared", about how I am always scared to run alone because there have been creepy followers and scaryguys that my overcautious(?) self freaks out about. I have had to call my husband while jogging before.

    I can't help but wonder if these men know at.all. the years they take off our life just by acting a certain way in a world where you can't just act that way anymore.

    I always think of my own (morbid) headlines, "Missing Jogger" (she was a mother of two, wearing a green shirt and black pants...) or something crazy like that, but is it crazy? No! Because it happens all the time! So no, in sum (and sorry for this crazy rant) I don't think there is any such thing as "overcautious". Not in this world. I wish it weren't true but it is. I am so glad you erred on the side of cautious each time you have had to.

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  2. Exactly why I am licensed and carry a firearm. My safety. My hands.

    Always trust your gut. It's almost always right.

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  3. I've had experiences like that. Paul has walked up to me after witnessing a guy try to approach me and asked, "are you ok?". I don't think there is any such thing as overly cautious in this day and age.

    I know I have to be. I'm deaf which makes it that much harder to know if someone approaches me from behind. I now have a working dog. People used to ask me why a working dog, your not blind you seem normal. I wonder how they would feel the first time they realized someone was walkind beside them, or behind them, causing them to jump out of their skin because they didn't know they were there. Pickles alerts me to any noise at all. I can have my independence and feel safer. Not alot of guys will attempt to approach you with a dog.

    I think not being cautious is like playing poker with a bad hand. (Hugs)Indigo

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  4. You know, you sit there and wonder if you are being silly, but in every self defense class I've ever been a part of, every instructor always says to trust your intuition and your gut.

    I'd rather be embarrassed over asking someone to walk me to my car, or calling them to come pick me up, then have something awful happen to me.

    Glad you are ok - and those thug guys were jerks. Who grabs a strange woman's shopping cart for no reason???

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  5. Wow Maggie, I'm glad your spidey senses told you to stay inside. Better safe than sorry I say. If it feels wrong it is wrong and you did the right thing!

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  6. I'm so glad you went with you gut here Mags! How scary!!!

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  7. Hi, Maggie, I think I commented in this spirit before, but you are NOT being excessive. So stop feeling apologetic for going the extra mile or trusting your instincts. If you are this scared of the potential bad, you either have a great imagination or have seen first-hand how things can go wrong and get ugly. Whatever it is, just please don't stutter at being cautious because it is very normal and healthy. I think the real issue is how close is the store to your home and other questions about the area and it's inhabitants and how will you now never go to that store EVER again!

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  8. Oh my goodness. I've had these kinds of encounters too and it gave me chills reading about yours. I think some people are oblivious to these scenarios until something like your green jacket man experience happens. Now I'm super cautious, very paranoid and always on guard. I'm not holed up in my house, by any means, but I'd rather come home with just my groceries than some guy with a knife and bad intentions, if you know what I mean!

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  9. I know it's nice down there and people are friendly, but there are scary people everywhere. Invest in a can of pepper spray. Being able to defend yourself is your friend.

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  10. This very morning, I scared an older woman, actually. I was out in the early morning, drinking my coffee and walking on the sidewalk. I was wearing a black leather jacket and ripped jeans.

    She pulled out of her driveway right as I was walking by her house. Then she drove s-l-o-w-l-y down the street until she finally turned the corner looking at me in her rear view mirror. I kept walking. Sure enough. After a few minutes she came around the block for one last check to make sure I wasn't robbing her, then drove off.

    The moral of the story? I was actually her neighbor, out for a morning stroll. She didn't realize it and thought I was dangerous, so she went with her gut. Did her double checking do me any harm in any way? Nope. Did it make her feel better? Probably.

    Forget being cool about it. Go with your instincts.

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  11. You have to trust your gut. As women, we are socialized to be "nice"-too look pretty and be quiet. This is why so many women don't trust themselves when they get that intuition. They think they are being silly. They don't want to be rude, but the truth is that nature gave us that intuition for a reason. I am really glad you wrote this. I hope lots of women read it. Those guys might not have been dangerous, but something tells me they were. You did the right thing. Sorry you were scared.

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  12. that's scary, and when i feel like you must've felt, i'd have done exactly the same. listen to my instinct. it's usually right. and if it wasn't, what the heck, you people watched a bit... since we had that break-in a little more than a year ago, i'm a lot more safety conscious and sadly the way the world is going, it has become necessary to be that way. anyway, rambling now, suffice it to say I'M GLAD YOU GOT HOME SAFE!

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  13. Okay Maggie, do you have a bizarre magnet? I mean seriously. First the wackos with the complaints at the apartment, and now this!? Glad you are safe, and keep trusting those instincts. They say if more women did, there would be a loss less crime against women.

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  14. Whew! I was on the edge of my seat reading this. I've had many incidents like this at many points of my life and I tell ya - instinct and gut feelings are always the way to go. It's just too creepy the way they were hanging out like that. Again, whew!

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