When I was 18 I was working at a local mall in a popular apparel store for young women. I typically worked the closing shift and left around 1030pm where I would catch the 1045pm or 11pm bus home. Being young and niave, I typically lived without fear and with the warped understanding that I was invincible. Mortality was not an option and extreme danger only happened on T.V. For this reason, I saw no issue with the fact that I was dressed in sandles, booty shorts and a tanktop at 11 at night, sitting alone at the bus stop.
One night after work, wearing my typical beach themed work apparel, I was a little late walking out and had to wait for the 11pm bus. I was sitting on the bench with about 10 minutes until the bus was to arrive, when a large SUV pulls up to the curb and lowers the passanger window. A heavy set man behind the wheel leans toward me and asks if I need a ride home. I was put off by this, and replied, ” No, thank you”. The man smiles and says, ” It will be no trouble at all, just get in, it’s cold out”. I replied again, “Thank you, but my bus will be here any minute”. The man starts to look around and grows slightly more aggitated. He says, ” It’s cold out and your not wearing a lot of clothes, just get in. come on”. At this point, I was getting scared at the fact that he didn’t accept my answer and move on. I started looking around for anybody close by that I could pretend I knew. The man looked at me and shouted, “Get in the car now! I am trying to be nice and help you. So get in!” I slump back into the bench, almost paraliyzed by the perplexity of it all, when he begins to come out of his vehicle. Right at that moment, someone walks around the corner toward the bus stop. The man looks at me with disgust and speeds off. The person that scared him off walked pass the bus stop and kept going. I was alone again and worried about him coming back. Luckily, the bus came and I went home with a valuable lesson learned.
I, like you, have used many methods to try to help my child understand the importance of keeping distance from strangers, but in my case, I would still watch as my daughter would walk off with a new friend’s parent at the park (me following behind). It seemed my methods were going in one ear and out the other. So I decided to share my experience with her. It left such an impact she engaged me with questions and scenarios. We formulated ideas of what I would have done if certain details were different; i.e. If I had chosen to get in that vehicle when he was friendly, if he had a chance to pull me in, if I ran when he opened his door etc. She shared what she thought she should do if this or anything like it happened to her, and we set guidlines for such scenarios. She finally was all ears as I explained how strangers who take you look like nice, normal, and inviting people. How people who do evil things, are the last to poeple we would expect it from. We had an hour conversation about all the situations to be aware of and how each should be handled. This talk was more than effective and she shared the experience with her friends at school.
We can’t be with our children 24/7, so it’s imperative to leave them the tools and knowledge to carry with them. And as parents we want to know that we have done all that is possible within our power to provide them with that.
Do you have a safety plan for your children? Have you ever encountered a close call like this before? Share your experiences below!