Monday, January 30, 2012

Just in Case You're Crazy...

I want to tell you guys about something that happened to me today that has me a bit perplexed.  Ordinarily, this would just be another insignificant event in my life that I would have forgotten or moved on from relatively quickly...if it weren't for some shows I've been watching lately that have completely thrown me for a loop...

So I had walked to my neighborhood Wawa this morning to get a co-worker and myself some breakfast.  I take a lot of medication for my heart condition, and it has to be taken with food.  I ordered a couple egg and cheese burritos and started the walk back to my building.  On my way out of the parking lot, this attractive gentleman in a decent mid-size sedan pulls up beside me.  He smiles at me with a beautiful grin and says, "You're too cute to be walking in this weather."  It's about 35 degrees out, and I am cute, so I smiled back and said, "I know.  Thank you," and continued walking.  He pulled up some, to match my pace, and said, "Where are you headed?  Can I drop you somewhere?"  My heart fluttered a little at the question, not from exertion but gut-tightening fear.  "Uh, no, thanks," I replied, now oddly nervous about talking to this man.  "Really, it's not a problem," he said.  Shaking my head, I answered, "I'm not getting into a car with a stranger just because he pays me a compliment." He smiled and holding up his left hand, revealed a handsome gold wedding band.  "I'm a Christian, and I'm married."  I nodded vigorously, anxious to cross the street and get away from this person.  "I know what that's supposed to mean," I answered sadly, "but really, I'm fine."  I scurried across the street and out of sight as quickly as I could, hoping he wasn't following me.

All I kept thinking about on the way back to my office was this episode of Disappeared I saw on Investigation Discovery about these young men, Terrance Williams and Felipe Santos, who were abducted in similar fashion involving a police officer in their district.  Supposedly, this officer apprehended both men then dropped them, on separate occasions, at a local Circle K; in both instances, he was the last to see either man before they went missing.  What's worse, this officer's account of both encounters changed frequently, was never documented, and, while his discrepancies and actions got him fired for misappropriated protocol, he has not been apprehended, due to lack of evidence, for the disappearances of these two men.  Now, if you can't trust a cop--those who are hired and put in place to risk their lives to protect us--then who can you trust?  Certainly not a handsome man in a relatively new Camry with a nice smile and potentially fake wedding ring on his hand.

What's really horrible about this is how sad both scenarios truly are.  I couldn't trust a stranger to take me across the street, the same way Williams and Santos apparently couldn't trust their neighborhood policeman.  What does that say about the nature of our society that we have to ask ourselves is someone crazy just because they offered to be nice?  What have we done to ourselves as a people that a decent gesture now immediately has to be interpreted with a red flag?  How many wolves in sheep's clothing have invaded our world with their twisted malice that I can't accept a ride in the cold or a lollipop for my son from an elderly man?  What has our world come to...when we have to tell ourselves to trust no one...?

Furthermore, what if I had been abducted?  How long would I have gone unnoticed?  And even if my co-worker did notice right away, I would have to have been missing at least 24-hours before anyone could file a missing person's report.  My abductor could have taken me across four or five states in that time, and during the morning rush at Wawa, with everyone's minds on getting off to work, who would really have noticed the young girl who willingly climbed into a handsome man's Camry?  I'd be dead, never found, and my family would be just as stricken as the Williams' and Santos'.  And in truth, most violent and abusive crimes don't occur with people we've never met: we're sexually abused by family members and close family friends; we're murdered by jilted and jealous lovers; we're accosted by the co-worker we never noticed or knew secretly adored us; we're robbed and raped by the neighbor who always cuts our grass; our children are snatched and molested by teachers and school volunteers.

My heart and prayers go out to the survivors in the Williams and Santos families; they deserve to know the truth and find the bodies of their loved ones so they can be buried properly and be given the closure they crave.  I pray that with enough awareness and outrage across the country, some action will be taken in their cases.  In the meantime, I won't be accepting or offering any rides to or from strangers.  Maybe Mr. Camry was a nice guy, but I'm glad I took that walk...just in case he was crazy...and in that case, I dodged a life-threatening bullet.  Better safe than sorry.

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