Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A small price

Today I was driving home after my last errand, a stop at the grocery store. As I turned onto our street, I noticed a woman walking toward the street I'd just turned off of. I noticed her because it’s not common to see people out walking, then I noticed something else that gave me pause.

The woman looked like a mum in her 30s, maybe, wearing a white tank top, some sort of pinkish sweatshirt tied at her waist. I think she had earbuds in, too. And that's about all I noticed—I don't pay all THAT much attention to women, after all, and I was turning the corner at the time.

But a second or two later, I saw man she'd passed stop, turn around, and look at her as she walked away. He looked a bit long, checking her out, obviously. He turned back and saw me watching him—we briefly made eye contact as I drove past—and he looked kind of, well, sinister.

For the next minute I debated with myself what to do: Was he a threat, or just a sort of unfortunate-looking guy who got sprung perving at the woman? Was he harmless, if a wee bit creepy, or was he really sinister?

By this time, I'd reached our driveway, and I turned in. Then, I put the car in reverse, backed out, turned around, and drove back up the street. When I reached the corner, both were gone. I calmed my mind about that, reached the corner and looked up the street: The woman was still walking up the road, alone, and the man was nowhere. I turned around and went home.

I'd been worried that I was unfairly judging the man, that I was judging him because he had a "sinister" look. But I was more worried that if I'd been right, that woman could have been in danger. That's why I turned around and went back to check on the woman, who was totally oblivious that any of this had happened.

Too many of us look away when we see something that doesn’t seem right, we convince ourselves everything’s fine. But, what if it isn’t? It took me maybe two minutes, three at most, to make sure that woman was safe. Put another way, it cost me nothing, but had I done nothing and my suspicions been right, that woman would have paid a very high price.

I’m not advocating undue suspicion, and paranoia is a really bad thing, but if something just doesn’t feel right, and if we think someone might be in danger, I think we have an obligation to follow our instincts and check things out. I’d rather lose a few minutes of my time finding out nothing’s wrong than do nothing, then find out I was right and could have prevented a bad thing happening.

The next time I get an uneasy feeling, I hope I remember that.


rogerogreen said...

I've followed women being followed by guys for a block or two when I got an uneasy feeling about him.

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

I'm beginning to think this may be more common than I realised.