Today while taking a pleasant walk on our bike path, my husband, Alan, and I decided to check out the new parking area that opened up to the public. As we made our way down to the beautiful new area we became instantly uncomfortable when a suspicious-acting man was standing outside his car stretching. Normally, one might say that’s what you do right before a run but what stuck out was the man had his car running with the driver’s door open as though he was planning a quick get away. I deliberately acknowledged him by saying good morning to let him know I got a saw him; he looked away and returned a salute in a mumbled voice as though he was trying to avoid any further contact or perhaps identification. In my work I have interviewed and counseled many men who have been less than kind to women. I have also had the personal experience of being helplessly stalked for 2-years by a stranger. My encounters with them have taught me how to have my radar up when I see situations like this one—he was out of place and his body language suggested he might be disturbed or at a minimum deeply troubled.
After Alan and I finished reading the trail maps, we decided to start back up to the path at the exact same time a young lady started trekking up the hill. The man stretching and bending seemed defeated and immediately retreated to his car. He drove off once we topped the hill. The event was unnerving because his demeanor and behavior seemed highly suspicious and his exit out of the parking lot once the woman made it up the path felt more than coincidental. I would have liked to believe he was heating up the car before his journey home but it was 60 degrees out plus his trip to the parking lot should have taken care of any warm ups the car might have needed; I would have like to believe he was simply stretching after a run but his clothes did not suggest he was jogging; he didn’t appear as though he’d sweating or even remotely tired after a cardiovascular workout. What his disposition led me to believe however is that there was a predator on the loose and he was preparing to do a grab and go. Every fiber in my being was activated: Everything felt wrong, yet no crime was committed. Did our presence thwart an attack? Has this man been carefully stalking this young lady? We might never know but what I will say to women out there is keep a safe distance between a running car and an open door. Alan and I pondered that it would have only taken mere seconds to kidnap her—seconds. Be safe and diligent as not everyone out there on your journey has your best interest at heart.