Monday, October 24, 2005

My Would Be Attacker

As I'm departing Cincinnati yesterday, early afternoon, I stop to get some gas at a station that isn't necessarily in a bad neighborhood, but certainly not a part of town I'd walk alone in at night.

I'm quickly approached by young white man who either had a bad eye lift or just some really intense "eye language"!

My first thought: NO -- I don't want to buy perfume or magazines. Don't even think you're the first one who's tried this routine on me.

His first words: Excuse me ma'm, do you have any jumper cables?
Me: (I only have $1 and a debit card that my daughter was chewing on earlier today Bucko...)"Uh, uh, Yeah -- I think I do."

I proceed to get my jumper cables for him while thinking, "Please don't throw me in the trunk and take my baby. Why on earth didn't I lie and just say I didn't have jumper cables. Damn my mother and her "Never tell a lie" routine."

After I hand him the jumper cables, he says, with those crazy eyes..."Do you think you could give me a jump when you're done pumping your gas?" He gestures to his car that is stranded in the middle of the gas station lot.

Me: (Really buddy -- just $1. And I'm a screamer -- I'll scream real loud when you try to hit me with a bat or take my pants off. And my kid -- she can scream louder than me. The person you sell her to will want their money back the first time they tick her off.) "Um, Um, I don't know how to use the jumper cables" Yes, lamest excuse ever!

Him: Oh, its okay, I do!
Me: (Damn you -- why me? You can just have my Ipod and $1 now. That's all I've got.) Oh, well - yeah. Just let me pump some gas.

So I must look like I'm totally going to blow up the gas station because I'm all darting my eyes around,shifting nervously, trying to decide how to escape. Wondering if he'll drive after me with a gun if I just take off instead of going over to give his car a jump. I think about asking the gentleman next to me if he'll go over and offer the guy a jump instead of me, but I can't bring myself to do it. I wonder if he'd shoot me in anger once he realizes that I have no money and that my Ipod is a very girly pink. Won't Pat feel bad NOW for not coming back with them last night?

But as I get in my car, trying to make my decision about what to do, I simply can't resist going over to help this guy. Because, what if he really needed a jump? What if I'm the only one who will help him. The Bengals game starts in a couple of minutes -- I'm sure he wants to get home for that. And I want my jumper cables back.

So I pull over there, but not without a plan. I lock my doors, pre-dial Pat's cell phone number on my cell phone (Why call someone who is 2 hours away is beyond me!), and pop the hood of my car. He sets about hooking up the cables and I think, Oh, now I see, you'll mug me when our cars are attached to each other, making it hard for me to get away.

He proceeded to hook up the cables, started his car right up, and returned to put my cables back in the bag. Oh no, here it comes. Now he's going to get me. I popped my trunk, cracked my window, and just asked him to put them in the trunk for me. He did as I asked, then returned, with those eyes, oh those crazy eyes, right to my window. He bends over and proceeds to shout to be heard through the glass, "Thank you very much. I really appreciate your help." Giving me this look that probably was meant to say "Thanks for your help crazy lady -- why do you look like I'm going to attack you? I just needed a jump." He gets into his car and I depart. End of story!

Oh the shame! The shame of assuming that every stranger in need is out to get you. The shame of presuming that every stranded motorist is a would be attacker who really just plans to bludgeon you and take off with your car, with your blue eyed baby in tow. The shame of not being willing to lend a hand, in spite of the fact that many a stranger have offered their hand to you. Its hard to know where to draw the line. While there are plenty of people out there who's battery really is just dead, there is also that contingent of those who are looking to take advantage of you. As a woman and a mother, I don't want to be naieve or careless, but all the while, there are times when you will encounter strangers who need your help. Its hard to know what to do.

A local friend was recently in a serious car accident. He hit a median, and flipped his truck many times, landing upside on the road side. His back was broken, and he could move nothing but his arms. He spent the next 20 minutes waving furiously out his truck window, hoping that someone would stop to help or at least dial 911 from the comforts of their car. No one did. After 20 minutes, he went about the excrutiatingly painful task of retrieving his own cell phone from his back pocket, and was able to dial 911 himself. I don't want to be so suspicious of people in need that I wouldn't stop to help a man stranded in a flipped pick-up along side the interstate. I don't want to be so suspicious of stranded motorists that I won't offer my jumper cables or a gallon of gas. Yet at the same time, I don't how to balance that with a mind for safety and the protection of my lone dollar bill and girly pink Ipod!

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