“You should always be taking pictures, if not with a camera then with your mind. Memories you capture on purpose are always more vivid than the ones you pick up by accident.” ― Isaac Marion, Warm Bodies
This week, I had the unfortunate opportunity of finding myself putting these lessons to good use… and also learning about how life sometimes imitates art.
I’m on my run when all of a sudden something feels very off. I feel the urge to remove my headphones and in my peripheral vision I see a car turn, pull over, and stop on the side street just behind me. A man gets out. As I look back, he’s frantically waving trying to get my attention. My mind slows. Everything slows. Something in his demeanor isn’t quite right. Also, he’s closer than I thought. He’s dressed like a realtor and I know they frequently stop here to put signs out. Let’s see if he’s that. He comes around from behind his car door. Nope. He’s not selling houses. A car is coming, so I can’t cross the street. I look forward and then backward. There are two runners a ways behind me down the street. Thankfully, they’re headed in my direction.
I remove an ear bud… He’s still waving his arms like he’s lost at sea and I’m his only hope.
His eyes flicker from side to side. And I don’t like what I see.
While running away seems like a good idea—turning my back to the man does not.
My guess is that he’s going to ask for directions. My guess was wrong.
“I’m not trying to hit on you, I promise,” He calls out stepping forward.
That’s not my first concern and we don’t know one another well enough to be making promises, I think.
He closes the gap between us. I back up and widen it. “Do you live in this neighborhood?”
I tilt my head slightly and offer up a blank stare. More distance.
He pauses and holds his hands out. “I need help…” He looks at this car and back at me. “I need someone who lives in this neighborhood to come with me to the community center.”
I tell him I can’t help him. I put more distance between us. But I still don’t turn my back to him. He seems manic. I consider the distance between him and I, his car, and the runners down the road.
“I’m trying to rent the community center—but they say you have to be a resident here. So, I need someone to come with me.” He says hurriedly as he speaks as though what he’s asking is anything but atypical.
“I’m sorry, I can’t help you.” I say, although, I’m not sorry at all.
He puts his hands up and takes another step forward. “Look, I’m just trying to do something nice for my wife.” I notice he’s still trying to close the gap. Also, he pulled the emotion card.
I’m not sympathetic. The other runners are getting closer now. I eye them, and he does too. I am lucky, I think.
I could be mistaken… but I think he thinks this, too.
“Well, I guess I’ll just keep pulling people over and until I find someone who will,” he smirks.
I team up with the other runners. He doesn’t leave right away, but he doesn’t ask for their help either.
Unfortunately, his car is parked at an angle and from where I stood (combined with my unwillingness to travel backward in his direction) it didn’t allow me to get a look at his plates…
Later, I call the sheriffs office. Unsurprisingly, I’m not the first to report the situation. The officer tells me I gave a good description. Better than what they’d had.
Which isn’t all that reassuring. But I guess better than other alternatives.
Also, I’m in need of a running partner. :(