Friday, September 13, 2019

Be the Second Man

Pleased that my schedule today allowed for a stop at Eden Prairie Center, I finally would be able to check the two stores I needed to stop at off my list.  I parked in the main floor parking garage outside of Von Maur.  The mall parking lot and parking garage were both very full today, so I found myself having to park quite a ways away from the external storefront entrance.

I enjoyed searching through the Von Maur women's shoe clearance room.  I didn't find anything, but enjoyed a giggle with a woman who was pondering buying 5 inch heels as it would make her exactly the same height as her husband at 6'2''.  I told her to buy the purple shoe, because they were amazing, and of course they were on sale.  I also told her that I am exactly the same height as my husband and wore flats to my wedding.  My tennis shoes make me an even 6 feet, so I usually don't wear a heel that would make me taller than 6'1''.  She was young and realized I was not, and told me that she appreciated the fact that I told her to buy the shoes so she won't regret it.

I finished my shopping at Bath & Body Works and Old Navy for tee shirts for my son and school uniform shirts that were on sale for my daughter. I even found a cute dress for myself.  Because I can never pass up a dress on clearance. I used the escalator on the second floor of Von Maur and returned to the door I entered.

It had begun misting again and I was ill prepared in a tee shirt and capri pants. I placed my long strapped purse over my  shoulder and carried one shopping bag in each hand. As I entered the parking garage I looked around and notice how dark it was now that the clouds had returned.  Without enough light, I couldn't really see how far down I had parked, but I knew I was in the correct row.

I saw my car about six more ahead, and saw a large figure of a man approaching me.  His body was back lit from the light coming from the far side of the parking garage. Because of him being back lit, I was unable to see his face.  As he came closer, I saw he had a broad smile on his face.  He said, "Hi!" I returned his hello, and as he passed me, he said, "Do I know you? Maybe I should know you."

Normally, what he said wouldn't be viewed as creepy, but I turned and observed that he had stopped and was walking back in my direction.  That inner most panic started rising in me. I turned back and picked up my pace.  "Oh, no.  You have a good day."  Just as I finished speaking, an older man walked out from in between my vehicle and the next.

Split second thoughts. That was all it was. I perceived danger. The second man shouted, "Ma'am, are you alright?"  I started to assess the proximity to my vehicle.  My car wouldn't unlock until I put my hand on the handle.  I had my heavy load in the right shopping bag, and I gripped the handle tightly.

"I am fine, thank you."  I had stopped dead in my tracks at that moment.  I couldn't turn towards the first man, but wasn't about to approach the man that stood in between me and my car.  In that split second I thought -they are together. They are here for me.

And then I realized the older man standing next to the rear of my car was staring down the younger man.  He had puffed out his chest and squared his shoulders and was actually standing there to ensure my safety.

My fear was unfounded.  But my fear was real.  I turned when I reached my car and saw the first man had turned and was walking towards the store. "Ma'am. I just wanted to make sure you were okay." His warm gentle smile told me I was safe and his intentions were honest. I told him I was fine and thanked him.

I waited until I saw that he was also going towards the store, and got into my vehicle and locked the door. My hands were shaking.

I was shaken to the core. It took me almost ten minutes to be able to gather myself. I prayed and asked the Lord to help me hold every thought captive. When I calmed a bit, I then realized what had happened. The first man, was trying to make a connection, but he did it in the wrong way.  The second man saw my discomfort and came to my rescue, my defense.

This evening, while talking with my husband and processing it all, I brought up the book that I have mentioned before in my blog called The Gift of Fear. Today, The Gift of Fear was real.  I assessed my surroundings, I found a way to defend myself if need be, and I kept my emotions in check while I still perceived danger. I also let myself fall apart before picking up the pieces. Josh asked a few questions.  He asked if something like this has happened before.  If I fear men in general.  He also asked if I was okay.  He cared, he listened, he encouraged me.

Yes, this has happened before.  Not this exact situation, but one to cause concern.  Quite a few times I must admit.  No, I do not fear men in general. But life, society, has taught me to be on guard and aware of men that are in close proximity. And yes, I am okay. I will be okay. I was thoroughly scared and realized a few things.  Some men do not know how to relate to or talk to women without making them nervous.  While other men are still chivalrous and will defend a woman whether they are asked to or not.  And my husband is the best sounding board and encouraging lover of my heart.

Why am I sharing this? I will not avoid places like the mall or parking garages.  I will still shop by myself.  I will also talk about he importance of being aware of your surrounding, what is in your hands and who is near you.  I also want to encourage men to be the second man. Be the man that listens, observes, and makes women feel safe in your presence. Be the man that intervenes before being asked to. Be the man that makes women know that you are willing to help without even saying a word.  Those men are the men I rely on daily. Those are the men I turn to when I need help. And those are the men that enable women to know that there is good in our society everywhere we look.

To the second man:  I thank you for being that man.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Not If, But When

  Yesterday in Texas, another school shooting took place. The word another wasn't placed in the prior  sentence as an afterthought. It w...