In about 7th grade I was walking to middle school youth group at a local church. It was probably about a mile from our house to the church I attended for youth group. It was in a somewhat busy section of town or at least near a busy part of town. First Baptist Church in Eugene, OR. I was accustomed to walking around town at a young age.
This day I was about 2 1/2 blocks from the church on a very busy street near the eugene bus station when a man pulled over and asked if I wanted a ride. I was not scared, people often asked if I wanted a ride. I said “no thank you, I’m not very far.” He asked me again and I said no. He becam more adamant and asked a 3rd time. He did not have a gun or knife that I could see, but at this point I became nervous that he was not a good guy.
I said “no.” and started walking away. A little over 2 blocks later I was a the building next to my church when I noticed his car sticking out (but not far enough that I could see him) in the alleyway between buildings. He was waiting for me!. I turned around and went behind the building I had started walking in front of. I looked into the alley where he was waiting. He started to back up.
I was so scared realizing he was waiting for me. He knew where I was going! He realized I might see part of his vehicle and backed up so I wouldn’t see his car sticking out, but he was to late. I ran past the alley way. Ran into the church basement. Saw no one (I was early) and hid in a side room and hid/cried until I heard familiar voices.
I told my youth pastor what happened. I wish we had called the police. I don’t recall whether he offered or not that night. I remember wishing I’d have got his license plate number. To this day I regret that. I wonder how many more “kids” he has preyed on. What if I had done something more to stop him.
At this point I don’t remember his features, anything about his car, mostly I remember the fear. I don’t know what exactly his plans for me were that day, but I know they were not good. I am glad I did not become a missing person.
I am a regular walker, which seems to be less common in this day and age. I walk with my kids regularly and frequently have people ask me if I want ride (even though they have no car seats). They are trying to be nice I believe, but every time I wonder what is wrong with society if they think a person needs a ride if they are walking? Walking used to be the norm and it’s healthy.
I don’t want my kids to be afraid every time someone asks them for a ride some day, but with the frequency and commonality of it now it scares me. I don’t want my kids to be afraid of people and don’t teach “stranger danger”, but do teach don’t get in the vehicle with someone you don’t know.
I was talking to someone recently at the park and she said she had a pass code for her kids. If someone said they were there to pick up her kids they were to ask for the pass code. I like that idea. I hate that we live in a place/society where pass codes are needed and I have to almost weekly decline a ride from people when I just want to go for a walk with my kids.
Please teach your kids not to take rides from strangers and know that YES, it does happen that strangers ask kids for rides AND it could be your child. I don’t want any child to go missing EVER.Think about using a pass code for your family.