Last night I had a most harrowing experience in which I am sure my guardian angel was very busy. I met my daughter and her fiance in Rockville, MD to check out a caterer for the wedding. We decided to have dinner after the meeting since none of us had eaten and looking at all that good food made us hungry. We headed for the nearby TGI Fridays and enjoyed a tasty (though a bit noisy since the bar crowd was watching the Ravens vs Broncos game) meal. We said our goodbye's and I went one way to my car which was parked not too far from the restaurant entrance and they went the opposite direction to their more distant parking spot. As we left I noticed a young woman, dressed in what looked like TGI Fridays waitstaff clothing, smoking while leaning up against the restaurant building. I remember thinking it was odd that employees were allowed to take their smoke breaks at the front entrance.
My Prius has keyless entry and push-button start so I never fumble for keys. I got in my car and immediately fired up the engine. Actually, I pushed the power button and engaged the battery. Firing up the engine sounds a bit dramatic for a Prius. In any case, as I am getting ready to back up I see the same young woman coming after me, actually waving at me. My first thought is that I must have left something at the restaurant. As she gets closer, though, I see that she is not a Fridays employee. I fumble to lock the door. I am too slow. She opens the driver's side door. Initially, I think she is screaming "Why did you hit my car?" I respond that I did not hit her car. I have no idea what she is talking about. Then as she keeps yelling at me, I realize she is saying, "Why are you in my car?" She is claiming that I am in her car. You want to know what is weird? For a split second, I doubted myself. I glanced around to make sure I was really in my own car. But then my racing thoughts reminded me that my key had opened this car and my key had started this car. This woman reaches in the car and starts trying to drag me out of the car. While I had not immediately locked the car, I had buckled my seatbelt. I wrest my arm from her grasp and start screaming. I am screaming at the top of my lungs "Help, help me!" I am laying on the horn. You know what happened? Nothing. There were at least twenty people in this well-lit parking lot a little after 9:00pm and nobody came to my aid. I could see people looking at me, but they just stood there and watched. For all I know, someone was filming it on their smart phone hoping to have crime video to sell to a news outlet.
In spite of my ruckus, the woman keeps pulling at me and telling me to get out of the car. She then tells me to produce my driver's license to prove it is my car. I make no move to comply with that. I just keep screaming and honking the horn. Finally, this tall lanky guy who looks like your classic gang-banger comes over. My heart is racing. What if he is her partner? But this guy distracts her long enough for me to find the phone button on the steering wheel and get the screen up to allow me to dial 911. The guy tells her he knows it is not her car because I have the keys. I see both of them walk away and head into the restaurant.
At this point the 911 operator answers. I am shaking, crying, and having a tough time speaking slowly enough for the operator to understand me. I explain the situation. He tells me to stay put, they are sending a Montgomery County police car. I ask if it is really necessary. Nothing was stolen. I am not hurt. I just want to go home. I am told that an officer is on his way and they need to talk to me. I do not want to go back into the restaurant because I saw my attacker go in there. I am terrified, sitting in the parking lot. I call my daughter and ask her to come back. She and her fiance are back in the parking lot in about ten minutes. The police have still not arrived. I call 911 again and the operator can only tell me that the officer has been dispatched but can give no estimate of when they actually will arrive. I have no desire to spend another moment in the parking lot, so my daughter's fiance drives my car and we all head back to my daughter's apartment. My son drives my husband over to the apartment so that he can then drive me home. I am just too shaky to trust myself on the road.
At first I thought I had managed to run into a woman who was just crazy. As I think about it, though, I think this was just her purse snatching or car theft MO. She dressed like a TGI Fridays employee so I hesitated. She tried to get me out of the car so she could hop in and drive away or snatch my purse and run. When that didn't happen easily she tried to get me to pull out my wallet and show my driver's license. That was probably so she could make a wallet snatch.
So what did I learn? I have one heck of guardian angel. I am in pretty good physical shape, but I would have been no match for this much younger woman. Yet, other than trying to pull me out of my car, she did not physically threaten me. She did not have a weapon. My car has power locks, but not automatic locks. I need to lock the doors every time I buckle my seatbelt. A well-lit crowded parking lot is not as much protection as I thought. Police response time is much slower in real life than it is on television. I have a wonderful family who did everything they could to make me feel safe and loved after the ordeal. Whether she is mentally ill, just a thief, or a little of both, the woman who attacked me needs lots of prayers.