Last night I got home around midnight after a really nice night with friends talking and roaming parts of a Clemson golf course I’ve never seen. I pulled up to our townhouse ready to turn off the car and hurry inside.
I admit I’m still afraid of what lurks in the dark.
I didn’t even see the two men and their giant dog walking across our section of the parking lot, which is why I jumped when they yelled “excuse me” to me. It’s midnight in a poorly lit parking lot. I’m a female alone and you are two males with an enormous pit bull – yelling is not the most comforting behavior.
I turned around slowly and backed toward the door, hoping Russ would be pulling up from work at this very second, because I’m not sure what I would do against two men and a dog I haven’t met before that I’m pretty sure could fit my entire face in his mouth.
They moved closer. One of them asked “do you live here?”
I must’ve paused a little too long because the second one said “are you in 46?” before I could answer.
I backed closer to the door and did that thing I do when I’m scared in a public place where I stick my keys between my knuckles in case I need to punch someone. I don’t know if it would be effective, and I’m not even sure I know how to punch someone, but I do it anyway.
I didn’t want to run. The truth is, my natural inclination with strangers is to engage. I love strangers. I’ve always loved strangers. I don’t put myself in harm’s way for them, but I try to operate on a certain level of trust and that requires that I not simply run away because a stranger is talking to me. I realize the key-knuckles thing and this notion are huge contradictions. I’m human.
I was quietly confirming that I live in this building – I mean, they saw me pull right up to the door – when Russ’s headlights appeared.
I immediately felt calm.
I told them that was my husband as they moved out of the way of his civic. Russ got out of the car and moved toward them.
Sean and Addy were their names. I didn’t ask for the spelling. They weren’t here to scare me. They weren’t even here to have their dog eat me alive in the parking lot.
They just wanted to let me know that a couple of nights ago they saw someone sketchy looking into my car with a flashlight while they were walking their dog. They apparently scared the man off, told our neighbor and called the cops about it.
I loosened my knuckles so the keys fell back inside my palm.
We introduced ourselves, they pointed out which townhome they live in. We thanked them for telling us what they saw, said goodbye and went inside.
This morning I’m thinking about whether I should’ve been less scared or should’ve run right away. I’m also thinking they didn’t even notice that I was white-knuckling my keys and backing toward the door. I’m pretty sure they had no idea how terrifying they were while yelling at me from across a dark parking lot. They just wanted to share some helpful information.
Still, it’s a hell of a way to meet your neighbors.