One afternoon last week, I went shopping at a major department store at the mall. Because I had to pick up an alteration for Hubby in the men’s department, I parked outside the door on that level, one that isn’t terribly busy, so there is usually good parking available.
I did my other shopping first, then came down to the men’s level, picked up Hubby’s things, and then, with my arms really full, and thankful that my car was just outside the door, I wound through the department toward the outside door.
There weren’t too many customers around right then, so I particularly noticed when I walked past four young men who appeared to just be “hanging out”. It crossed my mind that it was a little odd that they weren’t in the trendy big t-shirts and baggy jeans department, but in the men’s suits, shirts and ties department, where I wouldn’t expect them to find much they liked.
After I had walked a ways past them, as the aisle turned a corner I casually looked around and could see out of the corner of my eye that one of them was walking behind me. Not very close, but was keeping pace with me.
As I approached the door, I decided right then that I wasn’t going to walk out into the parking lot with that young man behind me, even though it was two o’clock on a sunny afternoon. I knew that it would be very easy for someone his age and size to knock me down, grab my purse, and be gone before I could even get up. (And I am especially fond of the new green purse I just bought for Spring, and I definitely wasn’t interested in losing it!)
So, instead of turning left to go out the door, I made a right turn and walked into the Nautica area where Luanne, a friendly acquaintance from church, works and I could see her there.
I walked over to Luanne and told her quietly that I thought the young man now browsing at racks just past the door had been following me. About this time, another young man joined him, and the two of them walked out the door. Because we were standing right in line with the door, we could see them walk straight out into the parking lot. They obviously hadn’t stopped just outside the door and that was encouraging. So, I was ready to just forget about it and walk out to my car.
But, Luanne was now all about keeping me safe … all 70 years old, 90 pounds-soaking-wet of her! So, she called another clerk over to watch her area, and she said she was going to walk me to my car. And my reply was, “So Luanne, if some guy grabs me, you’re going to wrestle him to the ground and hold him in a head lock until the police come?” With a smile, she agreed I had a point, and I suggested an alternate plan … that she stand at the door and watch me walk to my car, and if she saw anything happen, she would immediately call 911.
I then walked uneventfully to my car, waved to my new favorite “watch dog” Luanne, and never saw the young men again.
I hope I was wrong about the intentions of those young men. And I hope I was casual enough about my change in plans, that if they weren’t planning what I thought, they didn’t even notice me.
But, if by some chance those young men were looking for trouble, I now pray that somehow this missed opportunity might give them time to re-think their choices, and that God will touch their hearts, open their eyes and change their ways.
So, had I misjudged them? Was robbing me the last thing on their minds? I will never know. But, I do know that I took myself out of a situation where there was the potential for something bad to happen.
I’ve come to realize that the old sayings are sayings because they’re true! And one that applies here is, Better safe than sorry.