It was a cold and snowy afternoon as I walked home from school. Being 14 years of age, it was fairly safe for me to make the 20 minute trek alone. I was always taught not to talk to strangers and knew better than to get in the car with one. So I thought.
About 3 blocks from my house, I was stopped on the road by the driver of a passing car. The 40’something year old man asked if I wanted a ride. I was only 5 minutes from my house, so I declined the offer. Plus, he was obviously much older than me, so wisdom told me not to get in the car.
He then pleaded with me to let him help me out, claiming that he didn’t like the idea of a girl having to walk out there in the cold. I looked at him and pondered his request for a few moments, and then accepted it. Having been walking in the snow and cold for over 15 minutes, I was ready to be home and out of the elements. I used this excuse to justify my acceptance of his offer.
I opened the car door, sat down and closed it. It was at that moment that reality set in and I realized what a poor decision that was. Instantly, I was terrified. Having seen several movies and news clips about girls being kidnapped and murdered, I just knew that that was the end for me. I had walked myself right into a deadly situation.
He asked me where my home was and I told him it was straight up the road 3 blocks. As I was speaking those words all I could think was, “But, you won’t take me there. I know it.” The car was already moving and I didn’t want to jump out. So, I sat firmly in my seat hoping for the best.
As we pulled up next to my home, I asked him to stop. And…he did! He let me go! I was indescribably relieved. In a shaking voice, I thanked him and quickly got out of the car. While walking up to the front door of my home, I stared wide eyed ahead in disbelief at what I had just done. That could have been the worst decision of my life. Thankfully, he ended up being a nice man who just wanted to help a young girl out.
I still shake my head when I think back to that day. I knew better, yet when the moment presented itself I went against everything I had ever been taught. Why? Because I was cold. What a terrible excuse to take such a risk.
What’s worse, is that wasn’t the first time I had done such a thing. The first time, I was only 5 years old and running from the imaginary ‘bad people‘ who were trying to get me.
Back in the day people used to hitchhike all the time. Sometimes that resulted in deadly consequences, but most often it ended well. Now days, getting into the car with a stranger is very likely asking for trouble.
Have you ever ‘walked’ into a potentially life threatening situation?