A few years ago when I was still living in Arizona, me and my husband had just finished up a nice meal at a fantastic Mexican restaurant and wanted to go home. Because we had met at the restaurant after work, we had taken separate cars. Before we left, Mr. E mentioned that we needed some groceries and told me that he’d meet me at the local Safeway.
I took off first, and because of some favorable stoplights, made it to Safeway before he did. As I was pulling into the empty and dark parking lot, I noticed a lowrider pull in behind me. I drove my car up to the entrance and got out.
The coupons were in my trunk, from a former foray to Safeway. I went around to the back of the car and opened the trunk, and on my way I saw this:
The lowrider that had pulled into the parking lot hadn’t gone to the building and hadn’t parked in any of the spaces. Instead, it stopped halfway to the building. It was dark, and the parking lot was empty, so I saw one guy get out of the car. The car then took off, and the man started walking toward the building, and then stopped some distance away and started watching me.
I saw this out of the corner of my eye as I was shuffling things around in the trunk. As I closed the lid, the man started walking toward me, quickly. My hair stood on end. Thoughts raced through my mind. One, why did those people drop him off, and didn’t park and come in? Two, why did they drop him off near the rear of the dark and empty parking lot? Three, I am the only one out here in the parking lot and he’s coming closer.
I started walking toward the building, but he was moving quickly enough that he would overtake me. My husband turned into the parking lot at this point, and his headlights lit us up. I noticed that the man was a young hispanic man, with gangster clothing – real gangster clothing. If you have ever driven through the Tucson ghetto, you know what this type of clothing means on a young hispanic man.
Mr. E parked right in front of me, between me and the hispanic man. He got out. I would have ran inside, but I didn’t want to leave him alone with the gangster, so I waited for him and hustled him inside.
The man followed us after a few minutes. I watched him when I could. He started following us around the store, but he stopped when he noticed I was looking at him. He then went into the magazine section and stayed there. Everytime we passed that aisle I would glare at him. Back off!
The whole time I was in the store I was trying to come up with some legitimate justification for him to be perusing the magazine section of Safeway at nine o’clock. I tried to think of reasons why he would have tried to intercept me on the way to the building. I tried to justify why he would have stopped trying when he saw my husband, and why he would have followed us around the store, and why he acted guilty when he caught me looking at him. I just couldn’t think of a rational excuse.
When we left, I made sure me and my husband left at the same time. I followed him, and kept an eye on my rear view mirror – I wanted to make sure his friends weren’t following me. They weren’t, but that didn’t make me feel any safer. I didn’t get any sleep that night.
I didn’t tell my husband my suspicions until later. My husband is the kind of guy who will yell at someone for scaring me and not think twice, and if I turned out to be wrong, or the guy turned out to have a gun and be very dangerous…well, it was better all around not to tell him until later. I also wanted the whole thing to be a figment of my imagination, that the young hispanic gangster-apparrel-wearing man was harmless – not only because I wanted to feel safe, but also because I didn’t want to think I was fitting him into a convenient stereotype.
Nevertheless, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the man had meant to harm me, that if my huband hadn’t shown up at that exact moment I may have been mugged or worse. I was almost completely certain at that time.
I was looking through the internet later, and it seems that your hindbrain or whatever little part of you left over from caveman days that says “oh shit that’s a LION” is still there. Maybe a little weaker, but still there. So when your hair stands up and adrenaline shoots through your body, listen and get out of the situation! Better to look like an idiot, running in a dark Safeway parking lot, than be knifed!