Something really weird and creepy happened today, and I thought I’d share it both as a personal outlet and a warning to others.
Today at around 3pm I was throwing the frisbee for the dog on a little patch of city grass near the Medgar Evers pool (yes, in violation of city ordinance, but we have a well-known shortage of dog parks in the neighborhood, so we all have to make do). After a few throws, I suddenly noticed someone walking right towards me, up the hill in a determined fashion. It was the kind of purposeful gait that gave me an initial fear that it was an animal control officer who was going to give me a $150 ticket, but the lack of uniform made that unlikely once I had processed the complete image. I offered my typical “how’s it going” and didn’t get a response.
He continued up and stood about 5 feet away as I threw the frisbee, not saying anything. I let my guard down a bit then, as I began to think that he was maybe just a dog lover (the frisbee show does draw the occasional spectator). He was very ordinary in appearance, a white guy about 35-45, average height, medium build, looking well dressed for a Sunday afternoon in tan corduroy slacks, a nice shirt, and sunglasses that had a light blue tint. His hair was shaved pretty close, but you could tell it would be very thin or balding if it was grown out. He was carrying a big ring of keys with a mini bottle-opener in one hand.
After a minute or so standing there throwing the frisbee with my bad feelings returning, I offered a parting “I think the dog’s getting tired. Have a good day.” I put the dog back on the leash, and started to exit stage left. He immediately started to follow me, and I compensated by going to the right instead. But he changed direction as well, following me back down to the sidewalk on 23rd. I walked briskly for about 20 feet but still felt him getting closer, practically right on my heels. So I stopped, turned, looked him in the eye, and told him to go ahead. He did, crossing Cherry as the light was turning, where he waved down a #48 bus that was heading north. He started to get on the bus, but suddenly stopped, looked back at me, and then ran against the light across 23rd.
As I waited on the opposite corner, trying to figure out what to do, I saw him try the handle of a car that obviously didn’t belong to him. He then stood there nervously for about 30 seconds before walking slowly westbound on Cherry. Thinking the episode was over, I crossed Cherry and started towards home. But I hadn’t walked more than 50 feet when I looked back and saw the dude turning the corner, following me again. I stopped, turned, and let him pass.
Once he had walked about a couple houses up the block, I turned around and started to go the opposite direction, eventually heading westbound on Cherry. As I got to the next corner at 22nd, I turned around again and saw the man running towards me. He caught up quickly and I stood my ground and said, in as stern and no-nonsense voice as I could muster, “I need you to stop following me right now”.
For the first time he responded verbally, with a simple “Oh, OK.” He then turned around and went back down Cherry to the east. I waited a bit to make sure he was gone, then walked the couple blocks back home, looking over my shoulder the entire way.
Once home I called 911 and told the operator the whole story. She said they’d send a patrol car out to do an area check, which they did about 45 minutes later according to our scanner recordings.
Although the man had some obvious mental issues, I still don’t know what his intent was. Maybe he was looking for a date and somehow thought I would be into that, and that he could somehow sell me with his creepy quiet stalking behavior. But I guess it’s more likely that he was suffering from some sort of schizophrenic delusion that I had randomly become a part of.
But in any case, keep your eyes open and be careful out there. And definitely call 911 if you ever run into a similar situation.