March 27, 2014 at 12:03 am #3793
I feel like I should mention that, after reading every other story in this forum, I feel a little embarrassed even submitting this. But I do think there’s a good tangential lesson to be had, albeit with special apologies to our South African friend, who lives with real danger daily.
So, raising those daughters to be sweet and socially acceptable, are you? Well, probably nobody in this forum is guilty of it to the degree I was raised, since we’re a pretty sensible bunch and it’s a different time, but there are so many good reasons that you should NOT do this, that I wanted to share an example from my own life.
Despite a survival-mentality father, we were raised in a very traditional religious household where the women of our sect were long-suffering and, well, kinda doormats, to be honest. We were raised to be the social lubricant and to think of self second, to always be helpful and generous in our communities, bend over backwards to help out others, etc. I am not at all saying there’s anything wrong with this upbringing, but you need to really make a distinction for your girls that these things are only for people who have earned them. It’s okay to hold them in reserve against the general public. That was a key missing lesson.
When I was first out on my own at 19, I lived in an apartment in a big city. This was Kansas City, in the Midwest, not a scary city. People were generally friendly or kept to themselves, but if you’ve only ever lived on one of the coasts, then it’s likely you’re not familiar with the sense of community a Midwestern big city can have. This had that, so it was not a threatening place.
Well, one night I’m up in my apartment in a multi-story building, and the phone rings. We had phones that were connected to a double-security system in the foyer, to where someone could enter the outer door, but would have to ring to be buzzed in. The phone numbers weren’t given, nor were the apartment numbers, but rather a general code that they could dial. Sorry this is a lot of info, but just setting the scene. On my phone that night was a fellow asking for Veronica. I said that I was sorry, he had the wrong number, and rang off.
A couple minutes later, he call again. I said nope, not here, maybe there’s something wrong with the dial board if he was sure this should be her number? He apparently tried yet again, and got me a third time. He went into a sob story about how they’d had an argument and she wasn’t talking to him and he just wanted to get hold of her etc. etc. Right? I’m still starry-eyed at that age, true romance-gung-ho, so sure I wanted to help this poor love-lorn guy. Would I please go up to her apartment on the 9th floor and knock on her door and at least let her know he was downstairs? I said sure I would!
As I head out of my apartment, I made a decision that I honestly think saved my safety/life that night: I decided I wanted to see what he looked like, in case a) she asked, or b) the police asked later after there had been a domestic homicide. Our elevator opened onto the lobby, though, so I couldn’t take it without being seen by him. Instead, I crept down the staircase – 5 floors – and peered around the banister. Weird, nobody was there at all. As I started back up the (did I mentioned ill-lit?) stairwell, it suddenly hit me. You are going to think I’m stupid, but I am telling you that young ladies are not totally cognizant of their surroundings at all times: we only had 8 floors in the building. And I was outside of my apartment, in a darkened stairwell, obviously because someone wanted to get me alone outside of my apartment on a fool’s errand.
I ran – faster than any race ever in my life – back up the stairs, cursing myself the whole way, realizing that the likely scenario was that either someone was in the elevator, or someone was up at the end of the stairs on the 8th floor. I did the unexpected by going down and using the stairs – they may not have even known which was my apartment, just that there would be a girl coming out of one of them and taking the elevator up.
As I managed to get back in to my apartment and slam the door, locking it shut, the phone rang again. I picked it up, and the same guy asked if I had gone to check on her yet. I said I was too busy and hung up; it rang again immediately, so I disconnected the phone. I wish I had handled it differently, though even now I am not sure if calling the police would have helped, because I didn’t know the perpetrator or what he looked like, and he likely wasn’t even dialing me directly. These days, I’d even say it could have been what we call a “troll” (someone not even in the same geographical area, just messing with me), but there wasn’t really such a thing back then, so I really think I dodged a bullet.
Stop telling your girls to be so helpful and nice to strangers. I realize this story sort of fizzles at the end, because “we’ll never really know,” whether I was in real danger, but how many other stories started this way and ended up much worse? Make sure it won’t be your family’s!March 27, 2014 at 12:25 am #3801
You are right all the way. Thank you for sharing. I liked the story, you write well.
I have tried to teach my daughter street smarts at every opportunity.
dmarieMarch 27, 2014 at 12:31 am #3802
Gypsy Wanderer HuskySurvivalist
This does hit home, I lived in one of those building many years ago as well. So I do understand the story behind it. Bravo for dealing with it the way you did.
Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.
George S. PattonMarch 27, 2014 at 1:41 am #3825
Anika, this is a valuable lesson to keep in mind. Many predators have come up with quite sophisticated ways how to isolate their victims to have some “private time” with them. Glad you got out of this without getting harmed.
Alea iacta est ("The die has been cast")March 27, 2014 at 3:44 am #3908
Never be embarrassed to share your experience–especially in situations like this. It is a very easy mistake to make–I’ve made similar mistakes myself, but fortunately, nothing too bad ever came out of it in the long-run. It took a long time for me to learn trust is earned–not given!March 28, 2014 at 3:16 pm #4327
We are all here to share experiences and to learn from it, so nothing to be embarrassed for.
Thank you Anika for sharing your experience with us.March 29, 2014 at 7:51 pm #5150
Anika, it sounds like a nightmare experience. How easy it would be to be caught in that situation. Of course, you want to be helpful, and isn’t it sad that in today’s world we can’t be that? I am so thankful you used such good sense to check and verify before you acted. You did a great job at defusing a possible deadly situation.March 30, 2014 at 8:31 am #5362
An incredibly powerful story, thank you for sharing Anika. This articulates a very important message, the price of ‘failing to acknowledge/deal with the situation’ can be very high, reminds me of a quite brutal story I read where a woman was raped primarily because, in her own words, she ‘did not want to be rude’…March 30, 2014 at 1:57 pm #5398
Thank you very much for that link, Toby; it was compelling and very similar to how I was raised. I am fortunate having never had to endure what she did, but a lot of the hallmarks of the victim were there for me, too, at one time; I’m happy to say this is no longer the case!March 30, 2014 at 2:10 pm #5411
Much better to be dead wrong than wrong and dead!
RobinMarch 30, 2014 at 2:33 pm #5415
Hey folks. Johnny Bailey here, new to the site. Social transition is in full play right now….. It’s getting hairy out there now, but not hairy enough to raise kids to constantly be on the defensive to the degree that they’re considered loners or oddballs. That’s the paradox….. the best of both worlds is needed currently, and that’s a very fine line to walk. I teach my 2 teen daughters to be polite, act correctly in social situations, but to FOLLOW THEIR INSTINCTS. If a given situation FEELS off, ACT IMMEDIATELY AND ACCORDINGLY. If offense is taken or feelings get hurt via misconception, apologies are easy to do. Better than the alternative…. Further, teach them how to handle every firearm in the house. God forbid, transgression occurs one time when you’re not at home. Thanks for putting this experience up Anika.
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