When I was fifteen I got my first job washing dishes at a yacht club. I got about 30 hours a week and they took advantage of me. I moved to another restaurant, also washing dishes, along with various other kitchen duties, but working with much nicer people. When I was sixteen, I got a job full time, working 4-12 after school. The job was at a convenience store/deli in town. After school I would take the bus to the trailer park behind the mall. From there I’d cut through the mall, then across the highway and past the gas station and bank to the store. To get home I hitch-hiked. This was my routine five days a week. I should probably note now that I have always been too naive for my own good. I know better, but I tend to want to believe what people tell me, even though I have no reason to.
The mall is an outdoor affair, with individual stores crowded around in a circle of parking lot where seagulls wait for dropped french fries. I used to buy an order of fries and hold them up through my car window, one by one, as the seagulls came and took them from my fingers. It was exhilarating and a little bit frightening when the entire flock would surround my car, or when one would nip my hand. Anyway, walking through this mall on my way to work was part of my routine at sixteen, and it was noticed. I have no idea how long the guy watched me before I noticed him, but I eventually became aware of a middle aged guy in an SUV that would do slow drive-bys as he stared at me, then circle around and come back for another look. In my teenage eloquence I dubbed him Creepy. Creepy graduated to stopping and talking to me. I was brought up to be polite, and when an adult asks you something you answer. So when he first started talking to me I answered, politely, and excused myself for work to get out of the conversation. His next step was to offer me a ride to work. I refused, of course. After I crossed the highway, there was a bank I walked by before getting to my job. Creepy began popping out from behind the bank like some fucked up, horny jack-in-the-box. I began to get concerned.
One day on my way to work, he did his stalker rounds and tried to talk to me like he had many times before. I had quit stopping at this point and would just keep walking while he would try to chat me up. But this day the pervert tried to grab my arm to pull me into his stalker-mobile while ordering me into his vehicle. Luckily, he was not subtle and I was on alert. I pulled away from him and ran through the mall. This was probably about 3:30 in the afternoon when I went through the mall, btw, but apparently no one was paying attention to the creepy dude trying to pull a girl into his SUV. I figured he would show up at the bank again, and sure enough he did. But I was young, wary and quick, and did not give him the chance to try it again. I remember fearing that he would be waiting when I got off work, but he never was. My guess is that he was married and creeping on me while the wife was away.
So, Creepy had upped the ante. Why didn’t I tell an adult, you ask. I didn’t tell adults shit. The last time I had trusted an adult was when I had just turned eleven and tried to talk to my guidance counselor about my mother’s death. She called my father, which of course was the correct, responsible thing to do, and absolutely the worst thing for me. So that was the end of trusting adults. Plus, I was working to save money to get out of my house asap, and they did not know I was hitch-hiking to do so. Adult intervention was out, but this dude was becoming a real problem. I had asked him to leave me alone, I had refused all offers from him, and he was just getting bolder. I talked to a guy friend of mine from school about it. He and several other guys I was friends with decided they were going to handle it. The next day they had me walk to work like normal, but they walked with me. Like clockwork, Creepy came cruising by slowly, and seeing my company he drove off. My guy pals ran off to watch from an alley between stores as Creepy circled around and came back for his second pass. Seeing me alone, Creepy stopped his truck to try to talk to (or grab) me. My guys came running out threatening to kick his ass up behind his ears for him and Creepy drove off in a snit. I had told them about his jack-in-the-box impersonation at the bank, so they went there next. A couple of them were riding bicycles, so honestly, I’m not sure how threatening they were, but there were five or six of them ranging from 14-16. Creepy was waiting behind the bank, and started to drive over to me when my guys pounced. Rocks were thrown and threats were made. Accusations of pedophilia flew thick. And I loved it. Creepy drove off and my friends escorted me to work for a long time after that. This was my first stalker. If it hadn’t been for my friends it may have ended badly.
Hitch-hiking put me in a lot of dangerous situations, more dangerous than some pervert trying to pull me into his creeper-mobile. But the bright spark of fear when he tried to pull me into his truck stayed with me. The belonging I felt when my friends defended me stayed with me too. They were ready to battle for me and it meant everything to me. We lived in a twilight world unseen by adults and we watched out for each other. I would have, and did, go to bat for my friends the way they did for me. We were fearless and immortal and I miss having those kinds of friends. I don’t know if you can get them as an adult.