Sunday, May 25, 2008

Cornered on the Real Estate Market

In the twilight of evening, we had just met up with our brand new real estate agent who wanted to show us some "properties". In an effort to set the scene here, it was getting dark, I was tired, and we were new to the area. Anyhow, I lost the agent at a stop light, but when the light turn green, I sped up just a little and thought we had caught up with the agent. So anyhow, I am following the agent for a bit, when she starts ducking into side streets rather aggressively and then rather inexplicably drives into a vacant lot. In the lady's defense, my car was heavily tinted (we were living in Arizona, and dang it, everyone has their windows tinted) and my wife was in the back seat with our infant daughter. You have probably guessed what was happening by now, but just in case you are as slow as I was on that day, I had not been following my agent. A very angry Hispanic woman jumped out of her car and started yelling at me.
"What do YOU want?!"
"Why are YOU following ME?!"

I rolled down my window and told her quite calmly, that I was sorry and had mistaken her car for our real estate agent's car. I turned to get my cell phone, but as I looked back, the woman was still sitting there with a "puzzled/angry/scared as hell" look on her face. It took me a couple of seconds to realize that I had really freaked out this woman. She was mumbling under her breath, and kept looking into the car. At this moment, I was feeling really guilty, because I had honestly meant this woman no harm. It had been an honest mistake.

This woman was terrified, and I felt an obligation to assure her that her fear was born of an honest mistake. I rolled down our back window and told my wife to say something to her (I figured the scary man in the front wasn't going to be able to accomplish this regardless of my good intentions). So, as my wife is arguing with me, the lady notices the voice and decides after some hesitation to take a quick look in the back of my car. There is my wife next to our infant daughter telling me that she didn't have the agent's number either....

The woman convulsed as she ramped down from whatever level of fear that I had inadvertently stirred up inside her. She suddenly realized that someone who was going to hurt her probably wouldn't be travelling around with a wife and infant in the backseat. She looked as if she was going to cry, and suddenly looked confused/surprised/embarrassed at this entire scene. I couldn't think of any way to apologize any more profusely than I had, but I tried again. She waved her hand at me, a dismissive gesture, and walked over to her car. As we left, I noted in our rear view mirror, her sitting in her front seat, legs out the door, crying.

That happened ten years ago, and I still feel awful about it. At the time, I remember thinking (please forgive me) "too much television in that one". Ignorance by the truck load in me, I suppose.

Anyhow, thank you for giving me a glimpse as to why this poor lady was so terrified. I honestly had no idea.

With that stated, if you are getting aggressive attention in a public place, absolutely challenge the pig, and more importantly, challenge the people pretending it isn't happening right next to you.

Running Into Trouble

A few years ago I was jogging on this back road in Snoqualmie, WA called the Millpond road. The road is exactly that. A pond and some woods and a Mill. It runs for about a half mile from 202 to a bridge crossing the river and some neighborhoods. I had jogged it plenty of times before and didnt think anything of it. When you grow up in a small town, you tend to just feel safe, but today, as I jogged around a curve in the road, I saw a construction truck sitting on the side of the road with two guys in it. I ignored them as I went past, but I caught their leers and felt uncomfortable. I was a good distance from 202 and still a good way from the bridge. I rounded another curve and looked at my cell phone. It had no service. I heard the truck start and coming up behind me. It passed me slowly and disappeared around a bend. I breathed a sigh of relief...but then I heard it coming back. 'Oh, what the hell?" I thought as it passed me again, this time going faster. I began to look around for an escape route if I needed one. On one side of me was a swamp with woods. On the other side of me was the pond. I decided that I was a good enough swimmer to swim it if I had to. I heard the truck come back again. This time I was starting to feel sick to my stomach. It roared past me this time it what was obviously meant to be a threatening way. I was kicking myself for jogging alone. But I kept trotting along. What else could I do? There's a little clearing right before the pond ends and the woods begin where fishermen sometimes hang out. I was praying there'd be someone there, but of course, there wasn't. I stopped there anyway. I wasn't sure whether to go on and cut myself off from the water escape route or keep going and try to sprint for the bridge. I considered hiding. I heard the truck coming back again. I stepped behind a tree, feeling stupid for hiding, but it was better than nothing. The truck shot past the clearing and squealed to a halt. It slowly backed up. I stepped out and took out my cell phone. No coverage, but they didnt know that. I put it to my ear and hoped it looked like I was talking to someone. I whirled around and stared right at them as they came into view. I tried to look tough. They stared at me and then started laughing. I flipped my hand open in a gesture that meant like: 'What do you want?" I was livid all of the sudden. They laughed again and took off. I didn't hesitate. I started running faster than I've ever run before in the opposite direction towards the bridge, and I didn't stop until I was across it and in a neighborhood. I was shaking and furious and I cried all the way home.
The next day I got in my truck and drove out to the road around the same time of day. I had some idea of confronting the two pieces of human trash if they showed up. But they didn't. Which is just as well. I didn't think of reporting it to the police, but I probably should have.

I hate living in a world where I have to be afraid to walk or jog alone. I can't drive down that road without shuddering and it makes me feel so helpless and angry that two stupid men could make me feel threatened and there wasn't anything I could do about it. Even if they were just kidding around...thats no way to joke! But if it wasn't a joke, it may have been the cell phone that saved me. I now carry pepper spray and stick to residential streets.

Be careful, girls, whether its the city, the country or doesn't seem to matter. I was really lucky. And now Im much smarter.

~Thanks for hearing me vent!