One of my favorite blogs is One Minute Writer, which challenges people to write on a daily basis. To help with this, a prompt is posted each day encouraging readers to spend one minute writing on that specific topic. Since writing is something I enjoy, but don't often have time for, I have been trying to participate at least two days a week, depending on the topic. I found this prompt yesterday to be particularly relevant - writing about a close call you've had in your life. I didn't have to think very long to come up with my close call, as it is something that I think about frequently.
Eleven years ago, on a sunny Sunday afternoon right around Valentine's Day, I was loading my car after a big grocery shopping trip at my local Meijer. I had loaded some of the stuff into the trunk and had just finished putting some stuff in the passenger side when a car approached, blocking me into my parking spot. I remember being annoyed at first, thinking I'd be stuck there for a while. Then a man got out of the car and approached me. I was a little taken aback, but actually talked myself out of being scared. After all, it was the middle of a Sunday afternoon, and I was in broad daylight in a busy parking lot. What could really happen anyway?
The man approached and asked for directions. I can't remember now the detail of the directions he asked, but I do remember that it didn't make sense, and I remember trying to clarify what he was asking. Then the next thing I know, he had grabbed me and was trying to take me towards his car. I screamed and he tried to cover my mouth, but I managed to get a few very loud "help me" cries before he did. As I struggled and tried to get away, I remember thinking "Don't let him take me! Don't let him hurt me please!" I saw out of the corner of my eye a person come running and the next thing I know, my attacker threw me to the ground, jumped in his car and ran. The person running towards me and another passerby, both tried to chase him down and managed to get a license plate number. Before I knew it, I was in a room at the store with security and police giving a statement. Later, my fiance came and picked me up as I was a little too shaken up to drive home.
Later we would discover this same man attacked at least four other women that same day, all in broad daylight, and all of us matching the same description, right down to the color of clothing we were wearing! This man was also suspected in other attacks, including a rape of a teenage girl. Eventually they did catch the man and the last I knew, he was in a mental institution.
I wonder sometimes what might have happened if this man had succeeded, how my life may have changed if I had been kidnapped, raped or worse. I consider myself so lucky because so many women in my same situation aren't so fortunate.
While this experience traumatized me for a while, it has also made me do something every person should learn to do. Trust my instincts. That day, my instincts told me that something was not right. Yet I ignored that, dismissing them, and told myself everything was fine when it wasn't. I was lucky. Could have been more than a close call for me.