Thursday, November 3, 2011

Getting Jumped

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?


  1. Ick. I HATE situations like that. I don't know what I would've done, to tell you the truth.

    If my car were out of sight, I may not have gone and gotten it; I would have directed her to the nearest gas station or offered to call someone for her though. Especially in a situation where there are a bunch of children around.

    From the sounds of it, it really did sound hinky. I don't respond well at all to aggression. And there are all kinds of Army Surplus store where someone could kit themselves out.

    You've got to listen to your gut; it's hard though, when your instinct to help is fighting with your instinct about the person who says they need the help.

    I'm glad that nothing bad came of it!

  2. Jack looks a little intimidating in that picture. Kind of like, "BUY AN iPHONE NOW!"

  3. It definitely sounds a little off and I would have been like you..I would have helped her, cautiously and suspiciously and then second-guessed myself all night about whether or not I was right or wrong to be suspicious.

    I'm glad your car and your person are both intact.

  4. Thank you for jump-starting my car for me the other day, Marianne. I should have identified myself, and I know that you didn't recognize me because you would expect me to be in my medical scrubs attire. But I definitely appreciate it, and because of you, I got to go to the Macy's sale before they closed!

    And look at it this way, we finally got to meet, even if it was in a slightly stalkerish way!

    ps--for your "literal" readers out there, the above is a joke. Really.

  5. I enjoy helping people, but I live in a mostly rural environment where even the city folk are usually one generation off the farm, so we usually help each other out around here without much forethought. BUT you live in Chicago, so I don't know your history. She may have been in a huge hurry too, who knows. I have a son in the military and I always hope that he is kind, helpful and has good manners.

  6. I was walking into the bank that I work when a man suddenly came out of nowhere in the alley, in a coat with the hood pulled up tight. I literally started SCREAMING and running for the door...looking back to see how much he was gaining on me. He chased me into the bank and paid his loan payment. I apologized about 14 times, and he never said emotion whatsoever.

    I wouldn't have given that biatch a jump even if she had a nun habit on. Only nice people can use my jumper cables.

  7. Skwishee - Thanks for the input. I think using my cell phone to call for help for her would have been a better option. If she couldn't understand my trepidation, then maybe she was "hinky." I'll be using that word again, by the way, now that you've introduced it to me.

    Anonymous - Stop making me laugh. You know I have bladder control issues.

    Erica - Yeah, I think I did what a lot of moms would have done, but I worked against my gut, which Oprah's special on self-defense told us to listen to, even if it offends people. Too late now, I guess.

    MOV - Wow - you're a lot older and angrier than I would have guessed, but I'm glad you got your sale items!

    esbboston - there is no doubt in my mind that any child of yours would have behaved better. Just a hunch.

    Mary - I had the same reaction in Brooklyn on New Year's Eve where a guy approached with a bat. I started screaming and running. My friend just walked along. When I asked her why she didn't run, she responded, "not in these rock-star heels you lent me." If a guy can't understand a woman feeling threatened and perhaps over-reacting, than I'm guessing he's part-sociopath and serial killer. I mean, these guys have mothers and sisters, right? I'm stealing your line and ordering up bumper stickers about only nice people being able to use my jumper cables.

  8. helping is good but if red flags and some thing out place don't do it..luckly every thing work out ok.i have problem with leaveing my son to go help some over demanding idot.miltary or not.there trained to be kind and show respect to civilions. i know got a discharge vet liveing with me now.

  9. He is a good kid->man. While he was in Iraq he started a charity drive back home with his mother and brother, to raise money to buy soccer balls for the kids of Iraq. (My wife thinks the number was around 197 soccer balls.) So when they went on patrol they would hand out soccer balls to the kids, and they were very grateful, the looks on their faces were pure amazement and joy..

  10. Mike - that discharged vet would have been as kind and gracious as could be. Of course, I'm a little biased. Thanks for reading!

    esbboston - What a great program & a great son. You should be very proud. Any helpful hints on raising good sons are much-appreciated.