Wednesday, January 07, 2009

By friend, I mean creepy Russian mafia-looking dude

Art and Sin
I'm not easily startled. But today I got a good little rush of adrenaline on my way home.

I had a drink and dinner with Megan at Vessel and Purple downtown after work. I walked over to the bus stop outside Macy's at 3rd and Pine to wait for my bus. While standing in the rain under the awning with 40 other people, I noticed the guy next to me staring at me. I made brief eye contact and went back to staring straight ahead. It's not unexpected to encounter strange people at the bus stop, and the stop at Pine at 7:20 is not exception. The 358 pulled up and I boarded. So did my new friend.

I picked an elevated seat midway back in the bus on the driver's side. He sat at the sideways facing seat closest to the front door. I did a quick plan of action in my head in the off chance that this guy was going to follow me somewhere. I rehashed his description in my head as well, so that I would remember later.

He stood about 5'11" and weighed about 180 pounds, maybe a little more. He wore brand new glossy black Adidas track shoes, brand new orange and black track pants, and a brown knit cap with white stars (or snowflakes). He was very Slavic looking, probably light hair and probably dark brown eyes. He was clean shaven and wore a flat expression the entire encounter.

As the bus ran its route, he looked towards the back of a bus now and then. Everyone does that. I stared straight ahead mostly, not really looking at him. Once the bus passed 70th, he looked directly at me at every stop. I made eye contact a few times, and he always quickly turned his head back towards the front of the bus. I considered multiple options, and decided that my stop at 100th was likely the safest bet, with the well lit Subway and Burger Master nearby. I figured I'd keep to a crowded area until he went away, with my cell ready for 911 should I need it.

As I prepared to exit the bus via the front door, he stood up normally in front of me and exited before me. He went north, towards HT Market; I went south towards Burger Master. After 20 or so steps, I turned back and spotted him turning back towards me. Maybe I spooked him? He took off running towards HT.

Now, it was pouring rain and gusting wind, so running towards cover didn’t strike me as too suspicious in itself. I crossed 100th and waited for the light to change so I could cross Aurora heading west; I stared back towards where I last saw him. Sure enough, a few seconds later he reappeared. We exchanged eye contact and flat expressions.

I pulled out my cell phone (dialing 911 but not pressing the call button) and walked across Aurora very slowly. He walked faster, then crossed 100th well in front of me and jogged towards the awning and the tanning business and cigarette store. There were two men smoking there. I walked passed the building about two steps, turned around, counted "One. Two." then took two confident strides back towards Aurora into view of my new friend. Surprisingly he was walking quickly back towards me as well! Okay, now we were following each other.

I lit up my cell and made it obvious, walked sorta backwards across 100th towards Aurora and kept him in view. As soon as he saw me he ran passed me (not too close) to the awning of the motorcycle shop, staring at me almost the whole way. Two seconds later he ran towards the alley behind the tanning/cigarette shop building and disappeared into the shadows. At this point, I was sure that 1) he was following me and 2) I spooked him away. I was also sure where he disappeared was between me and my house on an unlit empty street. Sigh.

So, I waited in the pouring rain until two other people appeared out of nowhere to walk up my street. I walked up with them, keeping my eyes peeled. When I got home, I stared down the street waiting to see if he followed. Nothing for 30 minutes. Yeah, he spooked me too.

All in all, nothing happened. If I needed to, I was always within 20 meters of a populated well lit area. I wonder if I did the right thing? At one point, when we were closest and he was running, I realized that dialing 911 was going to be very slow (though I had it pre-dialed at that point). He was very fast and bigger than me. I was depending on the kindness of strangers a little too much for my liking. But what were my other options?

I've been attempted to be mugged once in my dumpy college town. It was just some old druggie who didn't have a weapon and was too chicken to call my bluff of a fight. I've also averted a few confrontations by simply addressing the person in a friendly matter right away, eliminating the element of surprise (they just walked away). I felt young and invincible with nothing to lose. This was different. Maybe he just wanted my cell and wallet. I'd freely give those up. Maybe he was unarmed or maybe all of this is just my imagination. The only lingering uneasiness I have is that now I'll never know. It's unresolved, like some sort of independent film.

Sorry for the long post. I wrote all this up in detail to pass on to our neighborhood watch committee, and our local Police officer. I figured blogging it couldn't hurt.

1 comment:

Kristina Logsdon said...

Creepy, creepy, creepy. Thanks for sharing with the neighborhood group. I live up on 105th near Aurora so it's good to know this is happening just a bus stop away. I've had some scary experiences with a guy saddling up next to me at the bus stop but never anyone following me home...