Monday, January 12, 2009

Creep

I was walking down the frozen food aisle and a man down the aisle met my eyes. I smiled. I always smile if someone meets my eyes. I turned the corner and continued to shop and felt eyes on my back and turned. It was the man. He was again on the same aisle, hovering a few shelves away. I looked up, he looked down.

I turned the corner and continued to shop. I saw the man pass my aisle and then double back, waiting at the end. Waiting and watching, me. I looked at my list. Looked at the shelves. Dawdled. I pulled my cell phone from my purse and put it in my pocket. I looked up again, he was gone. I exhaled.

I walked out of the aisle and there he was again, a few paces behind me. Up and down every aisle, he was there. Just behind me. Waiting at the end of the aisle. Empty handed. He was not shopping. Not shopping for groceries, at least.

On the bread aisle, he approached me, too close. "You again." he said flatly, no smile. Like it was happenstance, like he hadn't been matching my pace for thirty minutes, watching me as I shopped, as I chose food for my family. "What is your name?" I answered, my insides screaming, my hand twitching towards my phone. "Would you like to go somewhere and talk with me?" "Uhh, no thanks. I'm shopping." My heart skipped, my stomach lurched.

I walked quickly to another part of the store, calling Josh as I walked. I hid for a moment and spoke to him in hushed whispers, looking this way and that. I explained, told him that I'd be calling him when I left the store, to keep the phone close. I walked out of my little end cap corner and there he was again, reading a package. I walked briskly to another portion of the store, weaving through aisles, making awkward turns. My heart doing double time. I called Josh again, "He found me, but I think I've lost him again."

I headed to check out, hoping that someone would stand behind me in line, blocking me from view. No one did. As I was checking out, I saw him again. He didn't see me this time. He headed towards an exit, still empty handed, still looking. I thought about asking the clerk to have someone walk me to me car, I thought about blurting out, "A strange man has been following me throughout the store." But I kept quiet. Even as I held my tongue, I wondered how many others had had this same feeling in the pit of their stomach and made the same decision, I wondered how things turned out for them in the end.

I paid for my groceries and headed to the other exit. I called Josh again as I walked through the parking lot, going much further out than necessary in order to avoid nearing the other exit, my heartbeat whooshing in my ears. I loaded the groceries quickly and locked the car. As I drove away, I passed the other exit. There he was, arms crossed, staring at the doors intently, still waiting and watching.

46 comments:

slouching mom said...

SO frightening. I'm glad you're OK.

Gry said...

Oh, that is chilling. I had someone stalk me once in the library. I was maybe 14? In the end he went out of his way to brush up against me and wiped something off on me - I realize now what it was, but I totally didn't back then. Am pissed off at the violation, but also thankful it wasn't worse. (How effed up is that, btw? Those things shouldn't happen, period!)

InTheFastLane said...

YIKES!!
Maybe a call to the cops is in order? That is really scary!

Becca said...

That is terrifying! I don't know what I would have done. I'm glad you are ok.

Magpie said...

Ooh, that is creepy. Glad you are alright.

Jo said...

That is super creepy! I wouldn't have hesitated to tell the clerk someone was following me, and could someone walk me out. YIKES! I am just glad you gave him the slip.

Allison said...

Oh, that gives me chills. I'm glad you're okay! Next time (and there is always a next time) it might be worth talking to the staff at the store. Exactly this happened to me in a department store once. I asked someone at a perfume counter for help, and she was ready to have the man kicked out of the store, but as soon as he saw me talking to someone else he ran off. I guess he didn't like suddenly not being in control of the situation.

ewe are here said...

Oh PLEASE go with your gut next time of if you ever see him again. Tell someone. Ask someone to escort you to your car. Tell him flat out he's making you uncomfortable and to move away.

Don't take chances... and never hesitate to call the police if you think you're being stalked.

Kristin said...

That is so freaky, Kyla. I'm glad you're okay.

Bitsy said...

Oh my gosh, I was so scared for you reading this! It gave me chills!

Stay safe!

Bitsy

tierd said...

Gave me chills, too that is so scary! I'm so glad you are okay. What did he think, that you'd say "Hey, yeah, that sounds great!Let's get outta here!"

What is WRONG with people?

emily said...

Hi Kyla,
I thought I'd de-lurk to join the others in saying "eewww".

Also, since you have so much spare time ;) I recommend that you (and anyone else reading this!) go immediately to your nearest library or ebay auction and get the book called "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin DeBecker. It is for people like you and me, in situations just like this one you described. It changed the way I look at interactions with others, especially strangers! It explains how people allow themselves to be susceptible to these creeps. In a nutshell, women (especially southern) and children have been trained to be polite, and that politeness to strangers causes us to ignore our instincts in order to not hurt their feelings. Creeps know this, and use it to manipulate. We have the "gift of fear" and we should use it! It's ok to be afraid, and it's ok to say NO and GO AWAY I DON'T KNOW YOU. Well, the book says it in a far better way. Seriously, every woman should read it. I'm going to make my daughter read it when she's older (she's only 6 now).

Anyway, sorry to sound like an infomercial for this book! I just really really really feel strongly about the message that the author delivers. I've told so many people about it and had nothing but great feedback.

OH, and call the manager of the store NOW. That guy has probably been there before, and will go back again.

Jaden Paige said...

Ick. This has happened to me before, and it is SO scary! What a FREAK. I'm glad you're safe. Keep that phone close by, girl!

Janet said...

Entirely creepy.

I totally would have told on him and asked someone to walk me to my car.

Lisa b said...

Kyla call the store back and tell them. I know in the moment you try, or at least I do to not overreact, but I think you should have asked to be walked out and you should let them know while they still have video of the creep.

tutugirl1345 said...

Please be careful. I once ignored my gut feeling and was robbed IN the grocery store. Always tell someone. It's better to hurt someone's feelings than to be physically harmed.

natalie said...

KYLA!!! Why in the world did you NOT tell someone???? Perhaps there was security somewhere in the store to help you! Oh, I'm so glad you are okay.

natalie said...

Perhaps Josh needs to buy you some mace to keep on your purse.

amanda said...

That is terrifying. I am so glad you are ok. I learned a long time ago I would rather be embarrassed and ask someone to walk me to my car than discover what could happen.... I am shuddering at the thought of that man!

BoufMom9 said...

OMGosh! My heart is in my throat! That is so scary. I am so glad you went out the other door....

katrynka said...

Everything I have ever read says trust your instincts, gut reactions, whatever you want to call it. erring on the side of caution is never a bad thing.

Years and years ago, a friend of mine got into her vehicle, and knew someone was hiding in the back seat as she smelled his body odor. She cursed, and said something like "i forgot the milk!", then got out of the vehicle, went back to the store and called the police.

glad you are okay!

~aj~ said...

That is just so incredibly freaky. The part that gives me chills is that he wasn't even there to shop for groceries...he didn't even have a cart to act like he was shopping for groceries. I really, really hope he never found what he was looking for.

painted maypole said...

ewwwww!!!!

um... it probably would have been a good idea to tell someone, not that I would have had the forethought and nerve to do that in the same situation.

I'm glad you lost the creep

Sheila @ Dr Cason.org said...

I'm glad you are safe.

Julie said...

YES creepy. OMG. I'm glad you're alright.

motherbumper said...

Isn't it amazing how your senses scream creep and are so accurate without any proof? We all need to listen to our inner voice more often - glad you did.

jen said...

oh babe. let's never feel like we need to stay quiet again. what a bastard, scaring you like that.

Gwen said...

so creepy.

I'm glad you got out of it safely.

carrie said...

Ick. I am so sorry that happened to you. If it happens again, I'd definitely tell the staff. Thank god for cell phones and husbands who answer them, huh?

All Rileyed Up said...

That would totally freak me out. I like to think I would have asked someone to walk outside with me, but I never really know what I'm going to do until I'm in those situations. I hope you never see him again.

Woman in a Window said...

Holy crap! Never.do.this.again. Next time tell the cashier. Ask for the escort. Get them to get a picture of him on tape. Frig. I'm still breathing hard, looking around.

No Mother Earth said...

Yikes! I wish you had told the cashier. Someone could have dealt with him.

REally glad you're OK.

wheelsonthebus said...

well, that's creepy.

Anissa Mayhew said...

Kyla! The first time I come to your site and you scare the crud out of me. WHOA. I guess I knew you were ok enough to write about it but I would have just peed my pants. Be safe next time, ask someone to walk you out..please?

Well, hopefully no one is creeping you out in the store again, but you know what I mean.

Just Me said...

This happened to me once in a Meijer's (sort of like Walmart, big and lots of crowded tight aisles). No cell phone back then.

I was so afraid I went home and cried.

Later my male friend convinced me the right thing to do would have been to start yelling, which I would do today in a heartbeat. I still get twitchy from time to time from that.

flutter said...

soooo skeevy

Maddy said...

Eek I thought I had odd encounters in the parking lots mainly, but that's even more creepy.
BEst wishes

Bea said...

Oh, Kyla, what a horrible story! And I agree with all the commenters who say - yell, tell the cashier, don't take any risks. But I think if I were in the situation I'd do exactly what you did.

jo(e) said...

Oh, what a horrible experience. If it ever happens again, you could go to a cashier or any store employee and ask to see the manager. Then tell the manager what is going on.

Stores usually have posted signs about "no loitering" to enable them to kick creeps out.

Then make sure someone escorts you to your car.

I hate that this kind of thing happens. It sucks.

mamatulip said...

Promise me that if anything like this ever happens again you won't keep quiet. Please don't hold your tongue when you think your safety is in jeopardy.

SO GLAD you're okay. How jarring.

Gretchen said...

Very very freaky. I wish you'd have asked someone in the store to walk you to your car and also to get rid of the guy! SCARY!!

tiff said...

How sacary that would have been. I'm glad you are okay.

Liana said...

Oh my gosh. Wow. So scary. I'm glad you eluded him and SO glad you're okay.

Hetha said...

I kept waiting to get to the part where you tell us it's a bad dream. How horrible!

crazymumma said...

fucker.

sorry. I hate creeps like that.

musing said...

Oh, my. I feel for you!

I had something similar happen to me once (though a much shorter encounter) and I've never been back to that grocery. I drive ten minutes out of my way to shop.

(found you thru the Bloggess)