The woman paused on the sidewalk. She anxiously looked at the man sitting in his car in the near empty parking lot. He had parked his car directly next to her van. He’d even parked so that his driver door was next to hers. Perhaps if she waited he’d move on.
So did he.
She paced back and forth. The man looked up from his lap and made eye contact. Clearly he knew that he had positioned himself so that she would have to pass right next to him to leave. As he noticed her uncomfortableness he smiled. She considered going back into the hospital to find a security guard. But, what would she tell him? “There’s a guy sitting in a car in the parking lot”? It wasn’t particularly compelling evidence. And she really needed to get home.
The night drug on and the man in the car was obviously not going away.
What would you do? This story happened in the days before cell phones. The man hadn’t actually made any threatening moves. Sure, he had smiled, but maybe it was just a friendly smile. Maybe. Would you chance it?
Finally, clutching her purse close, she decided to simply put a brave face on and walk straight to her car, even though it meant walking right past his door.
Look straight ahead.
Just a couple more feet.
Oh no, he’s moving!
He’s opening his door. HURRY. Get in the van. GET IN THE VAN. GETINTHEVAN!!
The terrified like woman didn’t hear the words the man said as he opened his door. She managed to safely get in her van, lock the doors and quickly exit the parking lot.
What do you think the man might have said?
I know this story because I was in the parking lot that day. It was June of 1993. I saw the woman pace back and forth on the sidewalk. The man in the car was actually eating a Burger King meal. I watched the woman approach both his car and her van. I saw the terrified look on her face as she realized he was opening his door. The words she didn’t hear as she scrambled into her van were,
I don’t think I’m who you think I am.
I know all of this because I was the man. Let me take you back to the beginning of this story.
We had been back and forth to the hospital multiple times during my lovely wife’s second pregnancy. She suffered from a condition called Braxton Hicks, or false labor. She’d noticed it a little during her first pregnancy, but with our second it was much worse. Unfortunately, the only way you know if you hare having false labor is by going to the hospital and having the doctors check.
We were very close to the baby’s due date. We figured that this time we were either really having a baby this time or the doctors would induce labor. The wear from the false labor contractions on my wife was starting to take a toll. As we checked in that day, the nurse prepped my lovely wife.
So, how long do you think it will be before the baby is here?
Oh, you have at least an hour before it gets close.
Great. I was starving. My wife was fine with my slipping out to get some dinner. I got the food to-go so that I’d be close to the hospital. You need to understand that I really hate hospitals. I don’t hate the idea, of course. They are important. I just hate being in them. It relates back to when I had an incurable disease and spent way too much time in them as a kid.
I actually went to therapy to be able to attend my kids’ birth. But, if I could have an hour where I didn’t have to stare at the white walls, and the monitors and the people in masks and gowns, I’ll take it! I sat in my car in the parking lot and listened to the radio.
After a few minutes I noticed a woman on the sidewalk. She seemed to be waiting for someone. She kept looking to the parking lot and pacing back and forth. There were not a lot of cars in the lot. That was probably why she kept looking at mine. I was sure I didn’t know her. I wasn’t the person she was waiting for. I really hoped they would show up soon.The woman was obviously anxious to get home. It was clear she was getting off work. It sucks when someone promises to pick you up and they keep you waiting.
And so it went. I watched the clock for when I needed to head back in for the birth of my daughter. I ate my Whopper and fries. I listened to the radio and I watched the woman as she waited on her friend. As she scanned the parking lot again and looked at my car for the twentieth time I gave her a smile to let her know that I sympathized with her plight.
Finally, it appeared she decided to approach my car. Maybe she really did think I was the one who was supposed to pick her up. As she came closer, I realized that with the car turned off, my electic windows wouldn’t work. As she came abreast of my door, I opened it to let her know,
I don’t think I’m who you think I am.
It was only as her van was fleeing the parking lot that realization hit me. It’s been 20 years and I still wish I could go back and reassure the woman that I wasn’t the stalker in the parking lot. If nothing else I could have simply moved my car.
Things are not always as they appear.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.
(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved