Wednesday, October 1, 2008

(I Always Feel Like) Somebody's Watching Me

This morning, Noah and I did our weekly Wednesday run to Home Depot after dropping off Mitchell at school. As I was walking in, these two guys came in behind me. Then, they stood pretty close to me as I put Noah in the cart. I assumed they were waiting (impatiently) for me to move, so I moved over the side and apologized. Then I walked into the store.

I'm not sure why I looked over my shoulder, but there they were - no basket - right behind me! I stopped off to the side to pretend to look at light bulbs - and they did too.

Then, I walked to the middle of the store to buy drawer pulls, and they did too. They stood a few feet away while I counted out 30 pulls.

After that, I walked up front to pay, and they did too. They had one item. They even stood in the same self check-out line as me, even though all the others were empty.

I realized that I had one pull that was the wrong style, so I went to the back to get another one, and they did too.

By now, my creep radar was blaring!

I made it back up to the front and went to the cashier who oversees the self check-out area (don't even get me started on this set-up!). I whispered to her that I thought these guys were following me around the store. She intentionally took forever to ring up my one pull. I guess this annoyed them, so they left.

Or so I thought.

When I started to walk out the doors, I saw that they were sitting on the lawn tractor display just outside the door. I turned around and told the cashier. Then, she and I chit-chatted for several minutes. All the while, they would alternate taking turns walking near the door to look in.

Finally, the cashier called the store's loss prevention specialist (read: really huge, intimidating guy who doesn't wear the orange apron), who went outside and told them to get off the tractors.

So then they went and hung on the back of their truck - which was parked right across from my car.


Then, they started alternating walking back toward the store to check the door.

I stood inside the store another 15 minutes with the cashier and the loss prevention specialist watching them. Eventually, the loss guy had enough and went out and told them to leave or he would call the police. They finally got in their truck and left.

We waited a few more minutes then the loss guy walked me to my car and waited beside me until I was backing out of my space.

I've been extra freaky since, and at Target this afternoon, I kept darting my eyes around the parking lot and store. Tonight, we went to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's, and I was vigilantly watching over Mitchell. As we were getting in the car, I got onto him for wanting the mess with everything. I told him that a dark parking lot was no place to hem and haw while getting in the car.

I was followed once before while Christmas shopping. I know for sure that I was being followed because I left the shopping center and drove to another and so did the follower. Then I drove to another store and so did he. Finally, I drove back to a store I had been in earlier and told the cashier what I suspected. She had me describe the guy then hide in the dressing room. About a minute later, she came back and told me he had come in the store. She eventually asked him to leave if he wasn't there to make a purchase and said he was just looking around like he was looking for someone (not even pretending to be looking at their stuff). She called one of the shopping center's security guards to walk me to my car a few minute after the creep had left the store.

Thank goodness Paul made it home from his business trip this afternoon. I'd probably be too paranoid to sleep tonight!


anna said...

That is really really strange. I'm glad you got the people at Home Depot to help you. I wonder what their deal was?

tierd said...

Eesh - that is really, really scary. I've never had anything like that happen before. You handled it very well.

Mary Anna said...

I'm freakishly calm in alarming situations. That would shock anyone who knows me, as I'm a very energetic, high-strung, almost flitty gal. But, when it counts, I have balls of steel. (Sorry, Moms, if you read the comments! I'm not sure my MIL reads the comments, and I'm not sure if my mom reads beyond the emailed transcripts she receives - which don't include the comments.)

HeatherPride said...

Good grief, that story really freaked me out! I had a girlfriend back in high school who was followed through a mall and actually got kidnapped and held prisoner in a barn for a few days before someone found her. VERY SCARY. I'm so glad you're ok!

jenboglass said...

Yikes! You are smart though. As you were describing the steps you took (talking to the store employees) and calling attention to the situation I was sitting here thinking to myself that I would have no idea what to do. Thanks for the insight. I hope you stop feeling "icky" about it.

Also, has anyone made mention of your nod to Jermaine Jackson with you're post title?

David said...

Creepy indeed. It sounds like yo handled it amazingly well.

Did they get a license plate?

Frogs in my formula said...

I have been thinking about this all afternoon (I wanted to comment, but not at work). I can't believe how obvious those guys were about following you. You handled it so well. I am so happy your story had a happy ending. And that's awesome Home Depot had a large security guy. The security guy at my office is about 100 lbs. Not very reassuring.