Sunday, March 25, 2012

Getting Rid of the Chills

Took the pupsters out on a walk this early morning, to get some exercise before the next real rain.  Running the dogs up and down and around our backyard is fun...but it can get tedious after a couple of days.  Even though we love our yard, and we love the rain... 

...we needed to get out into the neighborhood!  Of course I wore my baseball cap and hoodie, as I always do when it's drizzling.

Suddenly noticed a guy, who was driving by in a pick-up truck, giving me a long slow stare, twisting back in the driver's seat to look.  Usually I assume folks are admiring my two beautiful dogs, which makes me smile.  (And sometimes I make sure my jacket isn't on inside out or something.)  But this morning, wearing my hoodie, I started thinking about Trayvon Martin and the folks in "Stand Your Ground" Florida, and I got the chills. 

I started thinking about an incident that happened here a couple of weeks ago.  I had been driving down the boulevard, on my way home from agility practice.  I came up to an SUV that had stopped to make a left turn onto my street.  There was plenty of time for both of us to turn left before the oncoming traffic got too close.  He made his turn very wide, and very slowly, while I made my turn on a more efficient line....suddenly in a bit of a hurry to get out of harm's way.  Perhaps I shouldn't have tried to turn.  I didn't realize his turn would be so slow!  This put my van directly behind his SUV when our turns were complete.   He immediately slowed even further, to less than 5mph.  I braked, of course, hoping not to get hit from behind, and wondering if he was going to turn into one of the driveways.  He swerved right, and then left, and then right again.  I thought "uh-oh" and slowed even further, nearly stopping.  He put on his right-turn signal and came to a complete stop, so I carefully went around him.  I heard him yelling, but I kept driving...easing up to 20, then 25mph...which is the speed I normally stick to on our street.   

He followed me.  I wasn't sure that's what he was doing, but because of his yelling I worried about leading him to my house.  So I turned at the next block.  He did too.  After several turns, taking trips around various blocks, it was absolutely clear that he was following me.  Made me nervous.  So I kept driving all around the neighborhood and he kept after me...until finally I pulled over and started frantically digging in my bag for my cellphone.  He pulled up next to me, and started yelling.  "I bet you live on the hill!  I bet you do!  You can't fool me, you b_____!  You hill people think you can do whatever the hell you want!  You think you're better than everybody else!  You can't tailgate me and get away with it!  You're gonna be sorry!"  etc. etc., while I called my husband...I was definitely frightened by then.  I held my phone up and told the guy, "Stop stalking me!  I'm calling the police!"  Actually, it was stupid of me to even talk to this person.  You never really know what out-of-control-angry people might do. 

In retrospect, since I couldn't find my phone while I was driving, I should have driven directly to a police station.  [Note to Self:  Keep cellphone within reach.]

The man started yelling again:  "Stalking?!! I'm not stalking you, you stupid b_____!  I'm protecting the neighborhood! I'm a protector!  It's my duty to protect our neighborhood from a__h____ people like you!!!" and, as I spoke to my husband (pretending he was the police - my voice shaking with fear), the guy quickly drove away.  Crazy vigilante nutbag.  My husband, who was very upset, did call the police (who basically did nothing). 

My point, however, is that something like this (being followed by a stranger who seems threatening) doesn't only happen in Florida.  And it doesn't only happen to young men wearing hoodies.  We ALL need to pay attention.   

With these kinds of thoughts crowding into my mind during our walk this morning, I was feeling some major chills...even though the sun was peeking out from behind the clouds, and budding daffodils lined the street.   

But, as you know, it's a huge mistake to live a life based on fear.  I suspect that it is actually fear - a twisted kind of weird, uneducated, unrelenting fear - that is the basis for the angry actions of people like Zimmerman, and that guy in the SUV.  I definitely don't want to live a life based on fear, so - to get rid of the chills - I petted my pups and started singing a little song under my breath.

A bit of singing (even as off-key as I am) always helps to lighten the mood.  It gets Riff rev'd up, for one thing.  He starts grinning and prancing and wagging his tail.  Keeper starts pushing her nose into my hand, and trotting faster.  And it helps me pick up the pace.  I try to choose a good upbeat song....this morning it was the Beatles' ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE.  And if you sing it at a good clip, you'll find yourself getting some really good exercise....a great stress reliever....

And I reminded myself to look around!  Learn from the past, but enjoy the present - look around and enjoy this day.  This is a very special day...a wonderful day to take a brisk walk in the fresh spring air.  

Giving thanks to the stars, my friends, and all the people I love...and hoping more people in the world will feel love - both the giving and the receiving....

and...wishing you the best....


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