Red flag warning?

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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

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