I Just Wanted a Glass of Wine, Hold the Stalker Vibes
A Woman's Safety Checklist
It was a Friday night in September, and I was just getting off a long day of work, at the barber shop. I was covered in other people's hair, and exhausted in every way, shape and form from standing on my feet and listening to strangers problems for eight hours straight. All I wanted to do was put on some sweats, open a bottle of wine, and snuggle up on the couch with my pup, while watching The Golden Girls.
I was halfway home when I realized I didn't have any wine at the house. This just wouldn't do. I decided to make a quick stop at Target, before the sweats and the couch snuggles. I made a mental list of other random things I needed, and because it's Target, some random things I didn't need.
It was getting dark out, so I tried to find a parking spot as close the entrance as I could, and near a street light. It was pretty packed, but I managed to grab a spot about 15 cars in and straight ahead. There was a cart corral right next to me, and a light overhead.
I grabbed a cart, and headed straight to the wine, before aimlessly perusing the rest of the aisles. Pretty soon I heard two guys behind me, chatting to themselves. Harmless, but I was alone, and didn't need anything in that area, so I moved along a couple of aisles down. Next thing I know, I hear those two voices again. One of the guys walked right up behind me, with an uncomfortable lack of distance between us. I tried to inconspicuously inch away.
"How's your day going?" he asked, moving closer.
"Oh, it's fine, thanks," I mumbled, as I quickly grabbed some random item, and briskly walked away.
"What am I doing?" I thought, "he was probably harmless. I'm being so dramatic."
No sooner did I finish my thought, than I heard the sound of heavy feet walking behind me. I quickly turned my head, and sure enough there they were again.
I hurriedly pushed my cart through the store, weaving and winding through different aisles, before I got to the feminine care section. Safety, I thought. There's no reason for them to come over here. I waited it out, pretending to be indecisive about which tampons to get. I didn't need tampons, and there's no confusion- we all have our tried and true brand.
After a few minutes, I figured the coast was clear, and decided to head to the checkout. But there they were, right outside pad paradise, just out of sight, at the end-cap full of women's razors and Nair.
That was it. I wasn't being dramatic, they were following me. My heart started racing, and I felt a panic attack coming on, but I knew I had to keep my composure. I sped walked to the checkout, and got in line to wait for a female cashier. The two men got in line behind me, and I couldn't believe what I heard next.
"Go to self-checkout, and I'll wait outside for her."
I started shaking, and watched as they separated- one heading to the self-checkout lane, and the other going out the exit.
The woman in front of me was almost finished checking out, as I felt a lump in my throat, and stinging in my eyes. I felt someone come up behind me, and I almost jumped out of my skin. I took a quick glance, and saw a man holding a shopping basket. I let out an audible sign of relief when I realized it wasn't Creep 1 or Creep 2.
Finally, it was my turn to checkout. As I slowly loaded my items to the belt, I told the cashier I was in need of assistance.
"Is there any way I could talk to someone from security, or a manager? These two guys have been following me throughout the entire store, and I just heard them say they were going to wait for me outside," I nervously pleaded.
"I saw those guys, they were being real creeps," the guy behind me butted in. "If you want to wait for me to checkout, I can walk you to your car."
"Oh that would be gr--" the cashier started to say, before I abruptly interrupted.
"Thanks so much, that's really nice, but I'd prefer to have security. Then I can point them out." I don't know why I felt the need to explain myself to this random guy, or pretend to be grateful. Maybe he was just being nice, but I'm trying to avoid two random guys, not put my vulnerable self with another one. For all I know, he was in on their scheme all along. Using the savior angle.
Eventually, security and a manager met me at the register, and asked me to explain the situation. After going through everything step-by-step, I was reluctantly walked outside by security. I could feel the eye rolls, that I was just a dramatic woman, thinking everyone's after me. We step outside, and low and behold, there they were. The Creep Show Duo, just hanging outside of Target, with one 20 oz. soda in hand. No shopping bags. Just one Sprite between the two of them, and a look of dismay in their eyes when they saw security with me.
"That's them," I whispered to the security guy.
He gave me a knowing look, and said "oh, those two guys? They were kicked out of here the other day for loitering, and making people uncomfortable. Do you want me to walk you all the way to your car?"
"Um, yes..." I said, confused. "Please. I'd prefer it if you waited until I was able to get in my car, and start to drive away, so I know that they won't try and follow me home."
He scoffed, but reluctantly obliged my request. I got to my car, and without even realizing it, I had had my keys positioned between my fingers the entire walk. I put my cart in the corral, and unlocked my doors. Quickly checked under my car, as the security guard impatiently tapped his foot.
"Sucks to be a woman sometimes," I said, as I hopped in my car, glanced at the backseat, locked my doors, and sped away- heart racing, palms sweating, and tears streaming down my face.