For starters, my parents have always taught me how to be independent. I live 30 ish minutes away from NYC by train, so I was taught not be afraid of the subway systems. I quickly learned how to find my way around NYC, and my town in jersey (I know I know. Don’t judge me), via public transportation, and was always checking in with my parents- whether I was going to practice, or a movie with my friends….So it was never a big deal.
Anyway, a few weeks prior to the incident, the internet in our house wasn’t working, and I needed the computer to finish some research paper. Since the library was closed (it was a weekend – typical of my town…), my older brother took me to this Internet cafe a few blocks away from our house. While there, my brother was talking to his friend Charles, and introduced us both. Little did I know, this Charles guy (he was maybe 17 years old) was about to save my life…
Oh, I almost forgot an important detail. This café was on the Main Street of my town, and there’s was bus stop a block away from the café.
A few weekends after meeting Charles, my friends invited me to go bowling in the city. My parents said okay — I was 14, so obviously I had to ask for permission, and was on my way around noon. We bowled. Got pizza. Talked about my friend’s new puppy…typical girl things. Everything was fine, until I was making my way back home.
3pm: There are delays w the subway system. Instead of waiting it out, I decided I could just take another subway home. It would drop me off at the Newark Penn station, and I would be 1 bus ride away from home. No problem!
315pm: I am on the subway and notice that this older man (in his mid to late 20s) is STARING at me. Creeps me out… but it’s nothing new in NYC. I ignore him.
350?pm: I arrived at Newark Penn station, and this man sees me get up to go. He makes eye contact. Smiles. He hurries behind me. Mind you, I’m a young, small girl at the time, so I’m an easy target. He’s creepy… so I decided to walk fast and “get lost in the crowds”. Doors open. I speed walk through people.
This dude must have had 20/20 vision because as soon as I arrived at my bus stop (a fast 10 minute walk)… he was right behind me.
4pm ish: I’m sitting next to an elderly looking lady at the bus stop. Creepy dude is pacing back and forth less than 10 feet away from me. He looking at me. Smiling. Pacing the floor. Every part of my young body is saying “RUN NOW! HE IS BAD NEWS!!” But, there’s nowhere to go, and somehow sitting next to this older lady made me feel safer.
I take my phone out to text my mom. It’s dead. Wonderful. Thankfully, more people have arrived at this bus stop, and I feel better. There are witnesses around. He can’t do anything, but he is still staring and pacing back and forth.
415?pm: The bus arrives… FINALLY. I quickly get in, and sit as close as possible to the driver. I don’t know why I didn’t tell the bus driver what was happening. I was young, scared, naive…and didn’t want to “burden” the driver. Stupid. I know now.
My stop is the very last one, so I thought “Creepy dude HAS to get off the bus before me. There is no way he’s going to stay until the end.”
Many, many, many bus stops later, this guy is still on the bus. He did this creepy thing: whenever the bus stopped, he would get up with everyone else, and instead of getting off the bus, he would sit closer and closer to the front.
There are fewer, and fewer people on the bus, so I realize this guy is getting off whenever I get off the bus.
This means, if I get off at my stop, he can follow me home… find out where I live… or maybe I’ll never get home.
5ish pm: there are only 2 bus stops separating me and my house. This guy, a lady, and I are the last ones inside the bus at this point. I decide I’m getting out early because I’m not having this guy know where I live.
I get off a bus stop early. He sees me, and follows me. I pick up speed… he picks up speed. Fuck it. I RUN! He’s running after me!!
Mid panic, I remember the cafe. It closes soon. I’m a block away. I RUN FOR MY LIFE to the cafe and this guy is RIGHT BEHIND ME.
As I’m approaching the café, I see Charles outside… locking up the place. He sees me, and knows there’s something wrong. I guess he sees the fear in my face, and this older dude running after young me.
I get to him, and Charles immediately pushes me inside the café, and locks the door behind us- therefore locking this creep outside.
My heart is pounding. I quickly tell Charles that this random guy has been following me across 3 towns, and that I was scared. He calls the cops.
The guy is staring inside the cafe, and I’m staring back at him protected by the locked, yet clear glass door. I had to remember him. Creepy dude smiles, and walks away as if nothing had just happened
Little did I know that Charle’s uncle is a cop in our town. A few minutes later, the cops show up. After describing him in vivid details, it takes them minutes to catch this creep still waking down the Main Street.
We later find out this creepy guy had a warrant out for his arrest for armed robbery, and had prior accounts of sexual assault.
Had it not been for Charles… I don’t know what would have happened to me that day.
Thanks for saving my life l!
And no, this did not deter me from public transportation or from exploring the city alone. My parents did freak out, and got me mace though. As an adult I travel all over the world, sometimes alone, but I’m hyper aware of my surroundings because of what happened at 14.
TLDR: An older man followed me across 3 towns, and chased me on foot. I was saved by a friend I met a few weeks prior, who just happened to be outside of his job.