OK, so I'm not a CIA agent. But last night I wish I had been. Joe and Christina already know this story since we saw them last night when we dropped by to borrow Wall-E (soo cute by the way!).
Yesterday evening we noticed that Mija wasn't listening to me...at all. It was like all the obedience training applied only to JT. That was weird since I have been helping to train her. Yes JT takes her out on most of her walks, but I take her out once for every 3 he does. Apparently that isn't enough. So once I chased her down, I put her on the leash and took her outside for a good strictly guided walk to reinforce my dominance. It worked like a charm. It was just after dusk. It definitely wasn't light outside, but it wasn't pitch black.
I turned left with Mija at the next street and got engrossed in a sign barring pets from a neighborhood I had planned on walking down. Confused, I reoriented myself and was about to walk on when I noticed a man to my right on the other side of the street. He was anywhere from 5'10" to 6', wearing jeans, an orange shirt, a huge black winter coat, and a black baseball cap. He was standing on the front porch of a townhouse. His clothes were a little too big for me to tell whether he was fit or just lean. Anyways, he just stood there looking. I ignored him and continued walking straight.
When I reached 800 East (one street away from our house) I turned left. I planned on making a big square back home. The street wasn't well lit and the only residents I saw the entire time got into a car and left. It's a long street. It wasn't long before something caught my peripheral vision and I saw the same man across the street from me again! He was calmly walking so I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. I thought it was a little weird that he happened to turn down the same street, but if he lives nearby he could've just been going to visit a friend. All the same, it made me uncomfortable.
I stood a little taller, took firmer control of Mija, and looked confidently ahead of myself (while keeping very aware of my peripherals). I'm naturally paranoid and this situation was not helping. I remembered a safety cop once saying to be sure to take note of anyone else in the area. The last thing a girl needs is to be caught in an ambush. I looked over my shoulder and saw no one there. I didn't hear anyone behind me the rest of the time. The man across the street was still walking, and he was in perfect step with me.
Remembering further training, I picked up the pace to a light hurry. His pace picked up similarly and we continued neck and neck down opposite sides of the street. My mind began to run through the logistics. Here's a look at what went on in my head in the flash of milliseconds:
I began to feel like the possibilities of this being a coincidence were growing less and less probable. I began to run through scenarios in my head of possible actions to take. I could have taken out my cell phone and called JT. I decided against this because safety cops say that cell phones can distract more than help, depending on the situation. A woman talking on the phone to a friend is less aware and easier to sneak up on. I wanted full reaction time. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and held it in my hand--I was ready to call JT or 911 at an instant. The man was across the street. I knew I would have enough time to take off running and call before he reached me. My plan was the same if he was armed. A moving target is better than a sitting duck. Like I said, I'm paranoid and I ran through every possible scenario. If the man were to attempt to enter the street between us, I planned to immediately call out to him and firmly request that he stay on his side, stating that he had made me uncomfortable. If he took another step forward he would have clearly defied a warning and I would have run and called 911. However, police profiling labels most stalkers as predators in search of easy prey. They want the person with the least amount of fight and confrontation. Simply confronting a possible stalker will usually throw them off. This is another reason I reinforced my demeanor when I became suspicious. Predators prefer weaker looking individuals who are distracted and looking down at the ground. I pay a lot of attention in class.
Now that you're all probably convinced that I'm paranoid (see? I told you.), let me tell you what happened to my emotions. Angry doesn't even cut it for how I felt. Livid and enraged is more accurate. At this point I had picked up my pace again and was almost jogging. He changed his pace and kept up with me. If he was indeed a sick predator, I was angry with him for daring to even THINK of attacking me. If he was just playing around with me, I was angry that he would even THINK that doing this was funny! Either way, I was sooooo ready for confrontation. I was surprised with how enraged I got. I was shaking. I wasn't even scared. JT says that this was a combination of adrenaline and my tendency to take things like this personal.
At this point I decided on one last test and I abruptly stopped and told Mija to sit. The man kept walking but now he was glancing over his shoulder every so often. I had enough of this. I continued walking and soon reached the edge of the street. He turned right and I turned left onto one of the busiest side streets of BYU...the street I live off of. I got home and asked JT not to panic, and told him the story. He began to quiz me up and down about the guys appearance, where I was, what house I was in front of, etc. I did well for the most part but realized that I still had some work to do.
So there is my looooong and dramatic story. If there's a moral, I guess it's to pay attention in self-defense and safety classes you attend. In the future I've decided to call JT as soon as I get suspicious and to remember address and the shoes they were wearing. Live and learn.