Red flag warning?

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Photo by Redrecords on Pexels

A short while ago I witnessed something that I just can’t erase from my mind. What I saw bothered me when it occurred and it resurfaces from time to time to make me wonder if I gauged a situation correctly or not. 

Let me tell you the story and then you tell me what you think.

After running some errands, Papa and I decided to grab lunch at a fast-food restaurant. I know what you’re thinking – not the healthiest choice. But it was quick and we had other things to accomplish that day.

And actually, the setting of this scene really had no significance.

Seated behind Papa was a young mother with three little children – the littlest a baby, the oldest around five or six years old. I had a clear view of her as she cleaned up their refuse from eating and walked over to the nearby exit where a stroller was parked.

As she was getting the baby strapped into the stroller and corralling her other two little ones, a man (I’d guess in his late 20’s) suddenly walked past our table to the young mother and offered her a ride home. She seemed a little startled by his offer and I could tell she did not know him, that he was a stranger to her.

She politely said, “No, thank you. We ride the bus.”

The man hesitated, offered yet again, to which she replied once more,  “No, thank you.” Then he walked back to a table behind me, reluctantly it seemed.

Papa looked at me (I think I had a puzzled look on my face) and remarked, “That was nice of him.” I shrugged my shoulders, but just couldn’t agree. Something caused me to be dubious of that man.

A red flag kind of flared up in my thoughts.

Within seconds, the man returned to the young woman offering her a ride yet again and being a little more insistent.

“I just hate to see you have to ride the bus with your kids,” he said. “We – my wife is over there –  have lots of room because we have a van. We’ll take you home.”

Call me distrustful. Call me too guarded. Call me whatever, but my red flag started waving crazily and warning bells started ringing in my ears.

“Danger, Will Robinson, danger!” Like the robot in Lost in Space.

I was relieved to hear the mother rebuff his offer once more,  “No, really, I’m fine. Thank you, but no.” Finally, he walked back to his table and that young mom gathered up her belongings and left with her children to catch the bus.

Why did I feel like we should keep our eye on her to make sure she got to the bus stop and boarded safely?

I expressed my fears to Papa and he seemed a little surprised that I had been so suspicious of the man’s intentions. 

Since he had a direct view of the man, I asked Papa to keep his eye on him after the mom and children left. He told me when the man first entered the restaurant, there was an older couple, a younger woman, and a baby with him. But the older couple sat down with another man and woman already there. 

When all of this occurred, we were finishing up our lunch. As we were leaving, we walked by the man’s table where only he and a baby sat with no food. And there was no one in line at the counter. I looked.

Maybe his wife was in the restroom. Maybe the older couple was with him, although they didn’t appear to be still in the restaurant,  or maybe they just happened to walk in at the same time as the man.

Maybe he just had good intentions of aiding that young woman. Maybe the man really was trying to perform a good deed, give a helping hand, but his insistence is what made me so suspicious of him – especially the last time he offered when he had been refused twice already. 

When we got in our car, I told Papa that if, indeed, three adults and a toddler were with this man, how did they have room for another adult and three more children in their vehicle? Outside in the parking lot, the only van we saw was a minivan, hardly capable of holding that many adults and children safely.

It’s sad when perhaps a charitable act has to be eyed suspiciously. But with all the reports of sex trafficking and crazy, perverted people abducting young women and children,  one should be cautious, especially a young, attractive woman alone with adorable children.

Obviously, the entire ordeal has bothered me for some time. My reaction also troubled me. Did I overreact? I usually have pretty good intuition about people, but perhaps I was dead wrong. What would you have thought? I’m honestly interested in hearing your opinion.

“To be suspicious is not a fault. To be suspicious all the time without coming to a conclusion is the defect.” ~ Lu Xun

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

28 responses

  1. The third time made me want to stand up and say “Leave her alone!!” I don’t really like being so suspicious but I do think we have to trust our gut instincts and mine was definitely waving the red flag. Thanks for your thoughts, peggyjoan, I appreciate it.

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  2. Not an overreaction. Did you read that book I lent you – “The Gift of Fear” – yet? Our gut instincts are almost always right on and the author talks about that a lot. This guy’s inability to take no for an answer the first time was definitely a red flag.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, girl, I am the suspicious one at the start. You were right on all points. Today I saw a shopping cart in a parking lot of the store. As I reached over to push it in I saw a satchel of some kind. I’m sure someone accidentally left it but in today’s world, I didn’t touch it. I reported it to the store. I’m sure I overreacted BUT….When it comes to people, you were very right to act with caution.

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  4. I think you were absolutely right to go with your gut instinct. The question is, what would you have done if the young woman had finally acquiesced and gone with the man? So hard to know how to help. I might have caught up to them, and pretended to have known her and offered her the ride myself, just to give her a chance to reconsider going with him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The question you asked has been on my mind, believe me. Does one intervene in that situation or not? Your solution is a good one. Thanks so much for reading my post and taking time to give me your feedback. I appreciate it!

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  5. It is such a sad state of affairs that the world has changed into us having doubts about the intentions of people. That young woman made the right decision – keeping her family safe over possibly placing them in harm’s way. Wonder how he knew she might need a ride home. Did she have “we ride the bus” written on her somewhere? Good observation on your part. Hope you and Papa have a wonderful day.

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  6. I think your instincts were correct (as were your observations about his situation, the vehicle, etc.) Had he asked once, I would have thought it was concern; the repeated (and escalating) attempt makes it sound very suspicious, and I believe the young mother recognized that as well. What’s worrisome is that, if this was a “pattern”, she wouldn’t be the last one he approached. Unfortunately, you’ll never be sure and there really wasn’t much you could have done except keen an eye on the young mother to ensure he didn’t follow her. It will likely continue to haunt you for some time, unfortunately, as you’ll never be quite sure what you witnessed.

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    • The entire situation just ‘creeped me out.’ I was so uneasy for that young mom and her adorable children. That’s why I asked Papa to keep his eye on that man because if he had followed her out of the restaurant, we would have had to do something…somehow intervene. Not a pleasant thought. Thanks so much for your feedback, Margo. I appreciate it.

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  7. It’s hard these days. To know what’s on other people’s minds. We live in an era where sex sells, (literally) and everyone is desensitized to violence. There’s decent people left but they’re very far and few so If my spidey-senses are tingling it’s usually for good reason. I assume the same goes for most other women as well. But at the end of the day there isn’t much you can do in those situations other than what you did. Better to err on the side of caution then do nothing at all. (Most of the time)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I would have felt exactly like you. With the evil in the world today – extreme caution is needed. I would have made sure that lady and her children got on the bus safely. Approaching her twice sent a warning signal to my brain.

    Liked by 1 person

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