More than a week ago I was walking in one of my favorite parks when I started to feel “uncomfortable”.
I like this park because it is along a river and it is on my way home from work. What I don’t like is that pedestrians walk on the street through the park and sometimes there are cars parked on the gravel along the edge of the road. This is only a problem when people sit in their cars.
On this particular day, as I walked past a small white pick up truck, I just had a weird feeling. When I got to the end of the road and turned around, I walked on the opposite side of the road. As I passed it, I noticed the driver’s side window was open and I could see the driver smiling at me. On the surface this is harmless, but something about him made me feel uncomfortable. In fact, the feeling was strong enough that I turned around more than once to be sure I wasn’t being followed.
The street is one way in this part of the park, so I wasn’t too concerned about the truck following me. The farther away from him I got, the safer I felt. And I didn’t give him another thought.
The return to my car was uneventful. I did a cool down, stretched, got in my car and pulled out of my parking space. At this point, I had a choice — I could take the exit closest to my parking spot, or drive through the park and exit at the other end. Typically I drive through the park to avoid traffic on the busy street.
As I arrived at the “decision” spot, I had to stop because of a vehicle stopped in the middle of the road. I sat behind it for a minute, distracted by the radio or my water bottle, or something. Finally, I decided to go around.
As I started pass I looked at the vehicle a little closer and suddenly realized it was a white pickup truck. My stomach dropped as I reached the driver’s side window, and there was the same guy — smiling at me!
I drove off, a little faster than the speed limit. He followed me, but let there be some space between us.
At the end of the park I was stopped by a traffic light and was relieved when I saw him pull in the next lane over. Whew! He wasn’t going to follow me any more, is what I thought.
Insteadhe started talking to me through my open car window. He asked me if I go to the park often. I was so stunned he asked me a question, I answered him! I said, “Yes”. He then asked if I go there every day, and I said, “No”. Finallysome common sense kicked in, and I turned my head. He said something else to me, but I refused to acknowledge him. The light turned green, he waved goodbye, and we both drove off.
I was a little shaky as I drove home. I was ticked that I had not noticed his license plate number and that I had talked to him. (I’m sure it was habit and shock that he had talked to me.) And I was extremely relieved that he was no longer following me!
My knee-jerk reaction was to say I’d never walk there again. Well, that isn’t quite right — I really like walking there! I didn’t want him to win.
After I had time to think about it, I decided to drive through the park about that time for several days to see if I could find him. And if he is there, get his license plate number and alert the police who patrol that park.
So far, I have not found him. After more than a week of not walking there, I finally went back. But I changed my route to walk toward the police hub in the park and to stay where there are more people and lots of moving vehicles. (119)