My wife calls me frantically. She thinks two men are following her in the store. Moments later the phone call ends.
It was 5:30 pm on a Sunday. She wanted to make a quick run to the store to pick up a few items we needed for the week. As she walks down the grocery aisle she notices two men peeking over at her. Thinking that she’s being paranoid she purposefully walks over to the next isle to make sure they aren’t following her. Moments later, she can see out of the corner of her eye that they had walked over too.
Darting out of the back-end of the store she finds herself in the baby section. She thought if there’s a place two men shouldn’t hang out it’s the baby section. The men, with no intention to buy, ended up in the baby section, just roaming. That’s when I got the phone call.
Crying my wife begins the conversation with, “I think two men are following me, what should I do?”
It feels like someone had stabbed me in the gut. I’m helpless. I’m miles away from getting to her. Even so, I’m afraid I could be too late. I hear Liam crying in the background which makes me feel even more powerless.
I urge her to get help immediately.
She rushes to the front of the store with her cart and Liam in tow. She finds herself in line waiting to be check-outed.
I ask her if she can see the men. She says, “No”.
The longer she’s in line the calmer she gets but I can tell that she’s still scared.
I encourage her to tell the cashier that she feels she’s being followed and in danger.
I ask her again if she can see the men. She says, “No”.
I can hear her talking to the cashier, the more she recounts her story the more she begins to cry. That’s when the phone hangs up.
What feels like an eternity lasts only a few seconds. She calls me back. The cashier immediately calls over the customer service rep. A call is made into her walkie talkie for assistance. Out of the back of the store comes another employee. “He was about 6’3 and in his early 30’s”, my wife later explains to me. The man insists that he be the one to walk her to the car.
As soon as she walks out, the men who had been following her re-appear and dart off to the bathroom. In my head, I’m thinking how odd that they go to the bathroom after being in the store for so long. That’s something you usually do as you walk in.
I stay on the phone with her the entire time. As she finishes putting the last few bags into the car. She see’s the men walk out of the store in the opposite direction. Having never bought anything.
The employee that walked my wife out to the car makes it clear that he’s watching the men but there’s nothing he can do.
Just to make sure that the men didn’t follow her in a car I stay on the phone with her until she arrives safely in our community.
Home, she gets out of the car, hugs me, and cries even more. I open the back door and see Liam, smiling at me. He’s just happy to see Daddy.
There are so many emotions that run through me about yesterday’s incident….
I’m angry that the situation even happened. What kind of world do we live in? If they had ill intent what were they planning on doing?
I’m satisfied with the response of the Target staff. They were quick to action and made my wife feel safe.
I’m also really proud of my wife. I’ve told her for years to have better situational awareness in public. She listened to her gut.
We’ll never know what might have happened if she didn’t notice the men until she was walking back to her car. They could have been harmless. Either way, the risk far outweighs her concern for being dramatic or too cautious.
I remember reading a book years ago about victims of home invasions. And as traumatic, as those situations were they said it didn’t compare to the ramifications of those events. They refused to ever be alone again. They lived in constant paranoia that it would happen again. It took their freedom away.
Husbands, I urge you to arm your wives with the knowledge of potential threats. Be proactive. Have open conversations about these topics. This isn’t something you want to have after the fact.
Wives, empower yourselves. Don’t be a statistic. You are strong and beautiful. What real men cherish others try to take away from you.
If you don’t know where to start. Read anything that comes from Tony Blauer. He’s a personal defense expert and a staple of the CrossFit community. Tony if you have any advice for situations like this we would really appreciate it.