I had just clocked out of work, walked through the parking lot and was opening the door to my car when she approached me.
I’m always very cautious when I’m on my own.
I’m a teenager.
I’m a girl.
It wouldn’t be hard to take advantage of me, and I know it. So I always glance every which way in parking lots. I keep my windows rolled up and my doors locked when I’m at a stoplight and there is someone walking around. I don’t walk in dark places.
I’m just super cautious.
But I never saw her coming.
She came out of no where.
As I opened the door to get in my car, she was just suddenly…there.
I had seen the two teenage girls walking right behind me. I had noticed what direction they were headed in, and as the stranger lady began talking to me, I took comfort in the fact that I wasn’t totally alone.
The two girls had parked almost exactly across from me. They could see the situation, and I felt a little more safe.
Because the stranger lady?
She didn’t look safe.
She was closer than normal. If I had a personal bubble, it was being popped. I used my car door to separate us, and I stood outside my car (too afraid to sit down and then have her leaning into my car) and picked up my purse that I had just set down on the seat.
Her hair was a little messy; her clothes weren’t the greatest. But that could be anyone. I don’t always look my best when I go out, so I wasn’t judging her on her clothing or her hair.
I was worried because of one main thing: her eyes.
She was panicked. Her eyes looked crazy and I didn’t know if she was stable or just some random lady looking for money, or who knows what.
She began the conversation. She explained that she had gone out with her boyfriend and while they had been in a store she put her purse down for a minute. He took her purse, with all her money, credit cards, phone, etc and ran. Now she was standing there with nothing and no way to get home. Her purse also had her keys in it.
She asked me for money. She wanted a couple dollars to take the bus home.
I asked her where the closet bus stop was (in an attempt to question her story without being rude. Because I know the bus stop is close by…but if she doesn’t, then maybe the story isn’t legit.) and she said it was just down that way, and pointed in the right direction. But then again, there were bus stops in multiple directions, so she could have been right basically no matter what. But the question didn’t trip her up, I had no proof of whether she was lying, and truthfully I was just plain weirded out.
I wanted her to go away. The sooner the better.
I looked in my wallet to see if I had any $1s…while holding the wallet VERY close to me. I only had a larger bill, no $1 bills, and so I told her “I don’t have a dollar to give you, I really don’t…but I probably have some quarters. That should work, too. Let me see.”
I wasn’t going to give her a 5, 10, or 20…whatever it was. I’m pretty sure it was a $20 dollar bill.
Because truthfully? I was quite certain the whole thing was a big fat lie. I was quite certain she was homeless and just wanted to rip me off. I was quite certain that she wouldn’t be taking the bus anywhere, hadn’t had her purse stolen, and that the boyfriend was a cover story.
What she would spend the money on…I didn’t know. Food, a blanket, new clothes, alcohol, crack, who knows? But at that moment two things hit me:
1) Just give her something and she’ll leave. Then get in your car quickly and leave.
2) What she does with the money is on her. Whether you choose to just help or not is on you. Do what you can.
I looked through my change, found a few quarters, and gave them to her saying that I hoped they would help. She took them, thanked me a few times, and then began to walk away.
I basically jumped into my car, shut the door, buckled as fast as I could, glanced at the girls who hadn’t even been watching our exchange, and drove off towards home. I saw the stranger lady walking in the right direction, and then I drove out of the parking lot praying that her story was true.
I prayed and told Him that I basically didn’t know. I didn’t know if it was all fake. I had no idea if she was going to use my money to go buy crack. I had no idea if she was truly a hurting lady, broken from a boyfriend-turned-thief, or if she was simply using me. But I prayed that if her story was true, and even if it wasn’t, that He would be with her and get her home safely. I told Him I did what I could do, and I thanked Him for delivering me safely from a freaky situation.
I did what I could do. What she did with a few quarters I’ll never know. I’ll never see her again.
But I have comfort in knowing that it wasn’t much, but it was something.
It was a little too freaky for me, and I can’t say I would ever want to see her again. But I’m proud that I handled a scary situation well.
I did what I could do, and that’s all I could do.