When I was a kid, I used to ride my bike almost daily to the local library branch a few blocks from my home.
One day when I was about 8, I rode down to the library like I normally did, parked my bike by the bike rack near the back entrance to the building, went in and browsed for whatever an 8-year-old boy would read, checked out a few books, and left the library.
When I came out, there was a man standing over by the bike rack. I didn’t think anything of it, so I went over to get my bike so I could go home. As I went to get on my bike, he said, “Hi, my name is John.” Then, he asked me, “What is your name?” I was a stupid kid, so I said, “__.” He said, “I work with your mom, you know.” “What is her name again?” So I said, (again, stupid kid here) “__.” He said, “Oh, she wanted me to show you something in the woods.”
In hindsight, and upon many years of reflection upon this incident, the guy sounds like the most inept kidnapper/pedophile in history. It’s like he was reading from the script of “How not to Abduct a Child.” However, it was 35 years ago, and the most education kids got about this kind of thing was, “Don’t talk to strangers.” My parents were great, but this was just not something people worried about all that much. The abductions of Etan Patz and Adam Walsh definitely did a lot to change the perception, but that is an entirely different subject.
Anyway, I was a bit creeped out when he said that my mom wanted him to “show me something in the woods,” and my “This is weird” radar went up. I politely declined the invitation to the woods and hopped on my bike to pedal home. As I turned away, he grabbed the bar on the rear of my seat (it was a Schwinn 5-speed with a banana seat. Not sure what you call the bar) to keep me from peddling away.
Now I was scared. I jumped off the back and re-entered the library. I made my way to the circulation desk and asked if I could use the phone. The woman at the desk told me that the phone was not for public use, so I left the library again from the back entrance (the front was always locked).
Happily, my bike was still there and the creep was gone. Thinking nothing of it, I jumped on my bike and set off. About a block from the library, I noticed a brown car at a stop sign on a side street. I looked again, and I saw the creep behind the wheel. I realized many years later (and not at the time) that he knew my route home, which means he must have followed me from my house to the library. Whenever I think of this now, it gives me a sick feeling knowing that he could have taken me anytime he wanted on my way to the library. I was probably saved by something as random someone walking a dog or grabbing their mail, and he didn’t want any witnesses.
I pedaled faster once I spotted him, and he pulled out onto the main road (I was on the sidewalk) and followed me closely. When my bike sped up, he sped up, all the while screaming and pointing at me. By now, I was screaming, too, and moving pretty quickly for an 8-year-old on a 5-speed carrying library books. (No; I never thought to drop the damn books.)
I quickly turned onto a side street, and he was moving too fast to make the turn as well, and I saw him turn onto the next side street. The side street I turned on led to my street, but there was a hill that I could not yet pedal up between my street and I. I got about midway up the hill when I had to get off and walk my bike. He was parked at the very top of the hill, just staring at me.
I literally walked right past him, and I will never forget his stare or the hate in his eyes. I have no idea why he let me walk past him, why he didn’t grab me, why he didn’t kill me.
I got to the top of the hill, got back on the bike and pumped my legs to get home. At this point, my house was less than 500 feet away. He turned his car around and followed me again. I got to my house, dropped my bike and screamed for my grandmother (she watched me while my parents worked.)
The creep sped past my house and turned down the next side street. I never saw him again. My parents called the police, and I remember answering the policeman’s questions while I was standing on a chair, as I was too small to look the cop in the eye. I remember that the creep drove a Plymouth Duster-type car, that he was balding and about 25-30.
I don’t know if he was ever caught, or if he ever hurt any children, his name or anything. All I know is that I have never gone back to a library (sounds silly, but true), and for the next few years I walked and rode my bike constantly looking over my shoulder, and that I am unbelievably protective of my children.
I don’t trust anyone easily, I don’t trust anyone with my children, and my first reaction to a helpful teacher, coach, etc., is, “What is his or her motive or true intention?”
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about that day, and I wonder not “Why me?” but “Why not m
When my (then-boyfriend) Tim and I were eighteen, we used to drive all over town until late at night, not having anything else to do. We were going quite fast on a deserted road in the middle of town. The thing about streets in AZ is that most are on a grid pattern, with poor lighting and the land is mostly very flat, with nowhere to hide. We came to a stop light right next to another car eventually, and of course our windows were rolled down and we yelled at the couple next to us in their coupe, who were rowdy and obviously drunk or on something else. The man driving revved his engine, and we laughed and revved ours.
The light turned green and we both sped off, side by side. It was all fine until the other couple yelled something unintelligible at us and swerved behind us, uncomfortably close, like they were trying to bump us or run us off the road. My boyfriend swerved around a corner and they followed us for miles as we caught every green light. Finally we made it to where we planned to lose them – an old road that follows a dry river, which is very curvy and actually has steep hills. The other car gunned it behind us as we sped up, but we managed to get some distance. When their headlights were lost in the dip of a hill behind us, my boyfriend slammed on the brakes and pulled into the gravel yard of a house along the road, behind a large decorative boulder and some cactus, and we killed the lights and sat in silence. The other car roared past us and continued looking for us.
There’s a lot of sketchy people there, and a lot of crime. I don’t yell out the windows at anyone anymore, I keep everything locked tight, and I don’t play games with strangers who might be psychotic, sore losers.
Ok, I’m 16 now and this happened in the fifth grade so I’ll try to remember as best as I can. Me and my two cousins (We’ve been good friends all our lives) were exploring deep in the woods near my house, and we we had a cell phone with us.
While we were far in the woods we got a call from a number we didn’t recognize, but I answered it anyway. I said Hello, and in a raspy, whispering voice, (A little like Ghostface from the Scream films) the man on the other line simply replied “What’s your name?” I’ve been drilled with the stranger danger talk a million times over so I just said “What?” and this time he replied with “Where do you live?” I hung up.
At this point I told my cousins what he said and we were all pretty freaked out so we headed back out of the woods. He called again, and I answered, because I was just curious. He said in a slightly annoyed tone, “Where do you live? What is your name? I want to know because I want to be your friend.” I had him on speaker this time, and all my friends heard and were freaked out. I never take anything seriously, so even though I was scared I just joked and I said to him “My name is Joey and I live in Miami Florida.” (My name is Logan and I do not live in Florida.)
I then hung up and we hurried home. We described the whole thing to my Dad and he was really angry. He called the guy back, and all that was on the other line was heavy breathing. (This is what my dad told me.) My Dad just yelled into the other line that if he called again we would call the police and told us we would be fine, and nothing like this has happened since.