It happened this morning. I’m not sure if the young man thought I was someone else or just didn’t like the fact I was driving slow. But there were two lanes and very light traffic at that point so he could easily have gone around.
Instead, he starts honking and holding his cell out the window to take pictures of me. He passes me on the wrong side and steers so purposely close I think he’s going to hit me. I get behind him just long enough to write down his license number. Then I slow down and let him get way, way ahead. I think he’s gone, but three blocks later I reach a stoplight. It’s green, yet he’s parked so I can’t pass. He jumps out of his car and advances on me, laughing like the Joker from Batman. He’s young, late twenties or early thirties, dressed like a businessman, wearing designer sunglasses, and driving a nice SUV. But the SUV has window stickers of guns and other symbols that look political but that I don’t recognize. I keep my windows up and grab my cell. I’m hoping he’ll think I’m calling 911. I don’t actually call. I’m a cop’s wife. I try not to waste police time. He gets back in his car and takes off.
Again I let him get way ahead and think it’s over. A couple of blocks ahead I see what I’m pretty sure is his vehicle turning into a Walgrens. I think “Okay, now it’s really over.”
I’m parked at an intersection waiting on a light and he pulls up beside me. He leans out his window, taking my picture, laughing that Joker-laugh.
Now I’m really scared. I think it’s safer to be behind him where I can see him rather than have him keep circling around to harass me. So I get behind him but let him get blocks ahead again.
He slows down to force me to get closer (one lane, heavy traffic), then he slams on his breaks. Again, he leans out the window to take pictures and grin. He’s enjoying himself. I keep looking at those guns on his back window, wondering if he has real ones in his vehicle.
I get into a turn lane to try to shake him. He follows me. My hands on the steering wheel are shaking. I’m near home. There’s no way I’m letting this guy follow me home. If he plans to shoot me, I’ll make him do it in front of witnesses. Yes, I know. Overly dramatic thinking. But your mind does that when you’re scared.
So I pull into a 7-Eleven. My heart races as I realize he has followed me. I park. He pulls up beside me. I dial 911. He jumps out of his car, joker-laughing and prancing around my car, taking pictures. I keep my windows rolled up, my expression neutral. I don’t interact with him. I don’t want to give him any excuse to hurt me.
He realizes I’m on the phone with 911. He starts yelling “Why are you following me!”
I suppose that’s for the benefit of his video camera. Or perhaps for the 911 operator. When he realizes I’m looking at his car, describing it to the 911 operator, he runs back to his car, jumps in, lowers his passenger side window. He lifts his sunglasses and waggles his head at me in a final Joker laugh, his tongue hanging out. Then he takes off fast.
The 911 operator tells me she has dispatched an officer in the direction he’s heading. I sit in the store parking lot until I’m sure he’s not coming back.
As I drive home I wonder what happened to this businessman to make him feel helpless. Was it a lost job? A negative client? A domestic problem? Something large or something a normal person would consider small?
What made him feel so insignificant and powerless that he needed to select a random woman off the street to frighten? I find myself praying that no one’s daughter ever crosses this man’s path in a secluded place on a day when he’s again feeling the rage of his own deficiencies. It’s a long time before I stop shaking.
At no time during this did I respond to him. I did my best to keep a neutral face and neutral body language throughout. Not an easy thing when you’re scared. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t honk or motion at him in any way. I never rolled down my window or gave him any other feedback. That is how I deal with people who behave in a way that seems mentally unbalanced to me. I simply give them no response because I feel that’s usually the safest course. No fuel. In my life that’s what’s always worked best for me.
Anyway…Be careful. There are people on the road who select victims at random. They’re not virtual trolls, they’re real ones.