As mentioned in my 100 things, that I don't feel like finding and linking to right now because I'm lazy, I had a paper route when I was a kid. I had it from the age of 10 to 14. A few days ago a few of us girls at work were talking about the scariness of the world today and how it wasn't that way when we were kids. Sure there were scary people out there that did things but as kids we just didn't hear about them. And it certainly didn't seem like they happened nearly as much as it does today. I'm sure parents do what they can these days to protect their kids from hearing about them as best they can but it seems that every other week something is going on somewhere and it seems like a losing battle. Even if the kids don't hear or see anything at home they could find out about it from friends or even overhear while out and about.
For the most part kids these days are brought up to not talk to strangers, they have cell phones to connect on a moments notice and parents and kids are just more aware. So although it seems like kids are being abducted or molested more often these days I don't think they are, I think it's just that it's talked about more. It's not a taboo subject anymore. For the most part kids do know who and what to look out for and know when something isn't quite right.
As a kid I didn't know any of that stuff. I don't remember being taught not to talk to strangers although I'm sure I was but not to the copacity that kids are these days. And if I was then it had been when I was really really young because I have no memory of it at all. But I was a very shy child so there really wouldn't have been much of a need anyway for that lesson.
I either walked or rode my bike to deliver my papers. Ours was an evening delivery except for the weekend edition, which was done on Saturday mornings. I did this like your postal person. Neither sun, nor rain, nor snow, nor anything else kept me from delivering my papers. I was never driven by my mother or any of my brothers or ever accompanied by them either. The only time that had ever happened was when I helped the boys from the ages of 8 to 9 when it was their route and I was their helper.
In all those years I never felt worried, not even during the winter months when it was dark as can be the whole time I was out there. It was my neighborhood after all. Sure my route didn't start for two blocks south from our house and end six blocks down and 3 blocks over but it was still my neighborhood. My elementary school was in the middle of those blocks and a couple of friends lived in there as well. And of course my customers.
Well, I never felt worried until one early evening in the spring of '83. I remember it was pretty warm and I was in jeans and a t-shirt. I had just started out and was on the in-between block. You know, the one between my block I lived on (we lived in the 1st house way at the other end) and the 1st block of my route. From about the middle of my block on there was this van that had been sort of by me off and on. The van was white and dirty. It wasn't a utility van but I don't remember windows in the back or on the sides either. I think it was closer to the kind that you would normally see the murals painted on the sides. But no murals for this one, just white and dirty. It had started off behind me for a few houses then went ahead a few houses and slowed enough that I caught up to it then sort of kept pace then I passed it then it started over again; until the middle of the in-between block. By that time they had gotten ahead again but this time they stopped in front of a house close to the end of that block.
But no one got out. That's what finally made me get a little weirded out. They had been sitting their for a good full minute or two without getting out while I was walking up. Which I had slowed considerably by this time. So, little ole me who had never been taught anything about abduction or molestation or anything like that deduced in a matter of seconds that there was no way I'd make it back to my house quick enough if these people meant to do me harm. So as natural as could be I turned up the walk to the house just before the house they were parked in front of and knocked on the door.
A little background info on this house and block. There was a parking lot in-between these two houses. Well, more an entrance and exit and one lane of parking between but still, there was some space between us. As mentioned this was the in-between block, but it was also one of the blocks on my brother's route. These two routes, plus one other route, had been in our family for years and years. There are 5 of us kids, as also mentioned in my 100 things. All but two of the routes were passed down to all of us. I didn't take the other two routes, at 14 I was done. So, although I didn't deliver to this house I knew who the owner was and he knew me. Also, the owner was the pastor at the Methodist church, which sat right behind the house that the van was parked in front of, and the parking lot was for. I felt completely safe and comforted in going up to the house.
I knocked on the door and turned to look at the van while waiting. Still no one had gotten out of it yet and it was still running. I knocked again, getting nervous now since no one answered and I wasn't hearing any noises inside. But finally the inner door opens and a young man in his mid 20's is standing there in a pair of shorts rubbing a towel on his wet head. I glance back at the still running van and tell him who I am. I tell him quickly what was going on and where I live and asked him if he'd walk me back home. He asks if I'd rather come inside and wait awhile until the van leaves but I say no, that doesn't mean anything. They could just drive down a few blocks or into an alley (which all the blocks had alleys) and wait. No, I'd rather go home and wait until either a brother or for my mom to get home and could come with me.
The whole time we talked the van stayed there. Never shutting off, no one ever getting out. He had me step inside while he went to get a t-shirt and shoes on and run a comb through his hair. Not until we were almost to the end of the block did the van finally drive away. We saw it go about 3 more blocks down then make a right up to the main road through town. We waited on the corner to see if it made it's way back our way but never saw it again.
He still walked me back home anyway just to be safe. I stayed there an extra 15 or so minutes before hopping on my bike this time so I'd get through the route quickly and also be able to boogie on home if I saw the van again.
Neither of us thought to get the license plate or even call the cops. In this day and age that would be one of the first things done. At least, I would think/hope it would be.
That was the 1st incident. The 2nd one happened a few months later. It was summer now and I was on my bike and on my way home this time. There were two guys in a hot rod. They had driven around the block and I hadn't thought anything of it, figured they were looking for a house. But when they came up the second time by me and hollered out at me driving on the wrong side of the street I got a little scared.
I didn't recognize them or their car. My youngest brother and I used to get strange people saying hi to us all the time because of our oldest brothers. They were the "bad" boys and many of the druggies knew who we were from sight but we didn't know them. But that's not how this was. This was completely different. Those people almost always knew our names and came across hippie like. These guys didn't say my name and were quite menacing.
I dropped my bike on the sidewalk and flew up one my customer's sidewalks to their house pounding on their door. As soon as I did the driver took off, he flew around the corner into the alleyway. I leaned over the porch to look between the two houses and saw that he had stopped and was looking back at me. We stared at each other for a bit before I leaned back and started pounding again. I heard him take off and since no one was answering I jumped off the porch and ran next door. I pounded on that door too but no one answered there either.
I could hear the car still in the alley but going pretty fast so I went into hurry mode. I ducked low and ran up grabbed my bike and staying as low as possible went back to the house and hid behind the bushes under the porch. I had just finished hiding when they came into view. I could see them but they couldn't see me. I was hoping they would think the people had been home and let me in or that I had just taken off. Either way I was gone. They sat there for a few more seconds and then took off.
I heard them go into the alley again and I quickly hopped on my bike and took off for home looking behind me every few seconds. But luckily didn't see them again.
Having never heard of the Ted Bundys or any of the individual cases I somehow had the wherewithal to not take a chance and go for help immediately. I would hope that my friends would have known to do the same but I honestly can't say if they would've. I think part of what helped me think that way was growing up with 4 older brothers and all of their friends. I was surrounded by males and was protected from an early age. But although I was protected I still learned how to fight and take care of myself BECAUSE I was girl. It was very odd really.
I don't know if I got "lucky" those two days or if Someone was looking out for me or if it was just "coincindence" what those two men were doing at those times or if I was just savvy enough to elude two bad men or what. All I know is that I'm grateful nothing happened and for the most part I forget that those two incidents even existed. The only time I think about them is when a discussion happens and the memory surfaces again. Sometimes I talk about them and sometimes I don't.
That day I did because one of the girls was saying how she won't let her daughter ride her bike around the block without her. And one of the other girls said she thought that was a bit much since she could see her daughter the whole way. That's when I spoke up and said it wouldn't have mattered if my mom could see me those two days, which she could have, both those days, clear as day. She wouldn't have been able to do a damn thing about it if either man would have decided to do a grab and drive other then describe the vehicle.
I know there's such a thing as being too over protective but at the same there's also such a thing as you can never be too careful. Also, I'm not a mom so I couldn't even say what I myself would do. I'd like to think I'd be able to find a happy medium though. I remember telling my mom about both incidents but I honestly couldn't tell you her reaction. It's been too long so apparently whatever it was must not have been too dramatic because it obviously didn't leave a lasting impression on me. I'm thinking she made sure I was ok and and praised me for doing the smart thing and going for help to homes of people I knew. At least I hope that's what she did.
Anyway, I did this post not because I wanted to discuss what to do or not to do with your kids but just to relate what happened to me when I was a kid.
Media quote of the day: I'm letting you have shotgun. But cuz it's cuz only 'cuz I'm goin' inside. - Slater - Dazed and Confused
This is the type of guy that would normally come out of the wood work that would know my brother and me but we wouldn't know them. Dazed and confused but harmless.