I was at the school park the other day with Atheist-Friend, our children, and a couple of extra kids we were watching. A lady in full military garb marched up to us:
Did you guys drive here? Do you have a car?
Atheist-Friend went silent because she was thinking this request and the woman's demeanor were slightly "off." There was a tiny hint of aggression.
I answered honestly because when I am nervous, I just start talking. And GI Jane was making me very nervous. I told her my car was parked on the other side of the school.
I need a jump. My battery is dead. Could you move your car around here and give me a jump right NOW?
I hesitated, fought the urge to salute, and then begrudgingly walked over to the minivan. In the meantime, Atheist-Friend got stuck trying to keep track of 8 kids at the park and crossed her fingers that nobody would have to pee.
Yet within a couple of minutes, I started feeling guilty.
This woman was defending our country!
She was military!
Of course I should help her!
Just because she didn't say "please" or seem particularly friendly didn't make her a bad person, right?
When I got back to her location, I started apologizing for my hesitation in helping her, explaining that I am naturally just a suspicious person and I was there with my kids and everything and...
Do you honestly think I'd be wearing this uniform if I wasn't in the military?
Um. Yeah. There are bad people everywhere and sometimes people wear uniforms and...
The woman flashed a laminated ID card at me, which looked like it could have easily been made at Kinko's.
I gave her the jump and she drove away pretty quickly.
I pondered the situation for a while and I still feel icky about it. I am always happy to help people, and I have participated in military fundraisers and always try to thank military personnel whenever I see them. But my Spidey Sense was going off like a nuclear reactor alarm. The woman obviously didn't have any bad intentions because my car and my person are still very much intact. But still.
Atheist-Friend of course always takes my side against strangers who don't seem nice. After all, I am the mother who stood on the sidewalk for hours on Halloween and screamed out every 5 minutes:
I didn't hear you say THANK YOU!!
She emailed me this link about local area robbers disguised as Chicago policemen with a note that read.
You were right. It felt like she was trying to commandeer our vehicles. She didn't act like someone in need of a favor.
Did I do the right thing? Am I over-reacting? What would you have done?