Sunday, March 26, 2006

Strangers in the Night

I was running errands the other night, and stopped to return some library books. I was talking to Melissa on the cell phone, and paced around outside a bit while we finished up our conversation. I finally got chilly and headed back. I was walking between two cars to get to mine, still chatting with Mel when someone grabbed me from behind and growled, "give me your money!"

I screamed and broke off, to find my assailant: a "friend" of 20 years. My fear turned to white-hot lividity, and with Mel now screaming on the phone, "what's happening, what happened?", I got into my car, slammed the door in his face and drove off. Hyperventilating, I managed to explain to Mel that I was ok, merely a victim of a practical joke. We both found it VERY UN-funny.

Next errand then: ATM. I parked and walked over, as I meant to grab a cup of tea before continuing on. I was still pissed, shaking and nauseous from the "mugging" I'd received, and when I left the ATM, found a very large man quickly crossing the street directly toward me.

Due to the state I was in, my mind went "Auuurghh!! Someone's coming!" and my heart hit my breastbone in fear.

But I recovered, I thought, quickly enough. In the split-second after my irrational jump, I realized I was NOT afraid of this man. I was in a well-lit area, in front of a glass-front restaurant, just off of a high-traffic road.

I smiled and said "hi" as I passed him. He smiled back and said "hey." He got about 20 feet past me, and turned back and yelled, "hey, you should smile a lot, you have a beautiful smile....And I mean you no harm."

My face heated with embarrassment as I basked in the compliment. It was clear that he'd recognized my inital response to his presence. I was then paralyzed...he's moving on, and I wanted to chase him. I wanted to tell him "I'm sorry, I'm sorry about that stupid deer-in-headlights look I gave you, but it wasn't about you...I was just in another parking lot you see...." Instead, I said only "thank you."

And he was gone. In an 8-minute time-span, I'd been laughing, terrorized & yelping, assuring, angry, complimented, and comforted...that no harm would come to me.

I wanted to melt. I wanted to sit down right in the middle of the street where he left me and take a rest.

I am still both embarrassed and touched by the encounter with this man.

I do not know him, but I recognize him, have seen him "around."

I hope that I will bump into him again sometime.

If I see him again, I promist to chase him down. I promise to apologize to him, and to tell him how I appreciated his kind gesture that evening. Maybe he won't remember me, maybe I'll ramble on and he'll think I'm a crackpot. Maybe I AM a crackpot.

But I want him to know: I do not inherently fear large people. My father was a very large man, and people often feared him because of his size, which I found idiotic. "Large" does not mean "violent" for heaven's sake! I do not fear dark skin. I do not fear green hair or spiked chokers, or youth, or anyone else for their appearance.

I will apologize for my reaction, and hope that I hadn't hurt or exasperate him because of it.

I hope I get to come back and tell you all about it.


  1. roller-coaster was right. I surely am curious about your "friend" who would pretend to be trying to mug you. Ha. Ha. Glad it wasn't for real and hope you get a chance to track down the man who was able to almost instantly undo the damage the first guy did.

  2. Chance encounters can do us the most good sometimes. If you see him again, ramble on. Let him think you're a crackpot. At least you will be thought of as a nice, caring crackpot. And the world could use more of those.

  3. What a day.
    You don't need to worry what he thought - your smile said it all.


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