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My moment of backup

I heeded the backup call today. Nothing dramatic involving daring rescue while swinging in using, as for example, a chandelier. But it's mine so here I am with the sharing.

After work (yay summer hours!) I headed over to the local Barnes & Naboo to take my time browsing and deciding which books to adopt and give loving homes to. During a pass by the front door I began to hear a conversation between a woman and one of the cashiers (also female, and young-ish, like late teens or early 20s). Words like "creepy guy" and "stalking" were said, so I slowed down and deliberately eavesdropped to see what was going on and if the woman needed any help.

Apparently there had been a man in the parking lot who had creeped out the woman's daughter (the girl seemed to be in her teens). He'd been acting strangely towards her, staring, and following her in a stalkery manner. The girl had found someone who took her to her mother (who was in a store at the time) and from there they had gone to see about calling the police.

The girl behind the counter didn't know what to do, so she got the manager (male, possibly 30s). The manager listened to them and said that they could call the police but as the guy in the parking lot hadn't done anything illegal he wasn't sure what could be done. I think he was familiar with the creepy guy but I couldn't hear well enough to be 100% sure. (As in "Oh yeah, that guy who hangs out in the parking lot." but again I'm not sure)

He was pretty good in how he handled it. From tone you could tell he was taking them seriously. He assured them that if they wanted him to call the cops he would and/or if they wanted an escort back to their car he'd be happy to do that himself. The woman ultimately said that she really just wanted to be sure that someone officially involved with the shopping center was aware of it and the manager said he'd take care of that.

At that point the woman and her daughter went to leave. This is when I hesitated because, at least so far as her encounters with the bookstore staff, things had been going okay. But then I thought that I couldn't really call myself part of the Backup Project if I didn't do anything when faced with a situation like this. So I went over with an "Excuse me?" and just asked if they were okay. They both said that they were and that really it was just the guy creeping the daughter out, but everyone they'd gone to for help had been wonderful about it. I said I was glad for that, and that it was a good thing that the daughter had trusted her instincts like that because those are just the kinds of feelings we all need to listen to.

They really did seem okay (the daughter wasn't giving off anxious vibes or anything) and they then went on their way. The manager went to go do his thing and gave me a "Thank you" as he passed.

The guy seemed to be gone when I went outside not long after. Which is to say that I did scan the parking lot and didn't see any guys so I assumed he was gone. It's possible that the mother had known that and that's why she didn't feel a need to push for the cops or an escort to her car.

And that's it. My totally non-dramatic story. But I did want to share because there was that moment of hesitating and then saying no, if I'm part of the Backup Project then I have to do something. So it does go to show that having this be a solidified thing really does make a difference.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 11th, 2008 08:12 pm (UTC)
Good for you.

For future reference, the B&N guys may not have standing to do anything about people in the parking lot but the MALL MANAGERS & SECURITY sure do. If you or someone you're backing up needs more active help than a store's personnel can or will offer, those who control the property are the ones to approach.
Jul. 11th, 2008 11:28 pm (UTC)
Admittedly I don't know why B&N were the folks she was talking to. I missed the first half of the conversation. Given that both she and her daughter seemed okay with how it was being handled I figured they had the necessary facts to know what they wanted in the situation and could better decide what they needed.

I'm with you, though. If it had been me I would've wanted security for that area (mostly because they would be closer) and I'd have called the cops myself. But possibly I don't know a piece of the puzzle that explains why she thought B&N was the place to go.
Jul. 12th, 2008 01:50 pm (UTC)
I assumed that's where they were shopping. And yeah, if they were happy with what B&N could do, then things turned out well.
Jul. 11th, 2008 10:22 pm (UTC)
Awesome! You did the right thing!

Not every store personal will know what to do in a situation like that. As
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Awesome! You did the right thing!

Not every store personal will know what to do in a situation like that. As <user="harimad"> pointed out, sometimes you have to go over their head, and even directly to the police yourself. It's good though they did alert the store personal, just in case. Too many people try to brush that sort of stuff off, as though it doesn't matter. Yet the more people who know what these creeps are doing, the less likely they'll be able to continue with the creepy, unacceptable behavior.
Jul. 11th, 2008 10:24 pm (UTC)
er, that should have been harimad...
Jul. 11th, 2008 11:23 pm (UTC)
If the guy had still been in the parking lot, that's exactly what I would've done. Heck, I've got a cell phone so I would've called the cops myself. I figure even if they didn't arrest him it would've hopefully shaken him up.

Jul. 12th, 2008 01:20 am (UTC)
Well, some creeps still wouldn't get it. However, calling the cops would certainly bring the guy to the cops' notice, and if he continued the pattern, they would have a heads up that it wasn't just some fluke thing.
Jul. 12th, 2008 12:41 am (UTC)
Well done for overcoming that hesitation - that 'it's none of my business' programming and making sure that they were okay.

You've reminded me that I had a similar experience yesterday and should post about it.

Should because I feel like if we talk about backing each other up, then theoretically it will become more natural and easier etc.

Jul. 12th, 2008 12:53 am (UTC)
Good for you!
Jul. 12th, 2008 01:12 am (UTC)
Good stuff. And we need to tell stories which focus even on that second of thought, to remind us of other seconds where we may need to think...
(If that made sense!)
Jul. 12th, 2008 05:54 am (UTC)
What's the "Backup Project?" I'm confused.

If I were that customer I would have said, "Yes, call the police." I think people are too reluctant to take action. I'm 46, and I go everywhere all the time, by myself, because I have to. I'm single. I go out at night to listen to live music at clubs too, in some very sketchy neighborhoods here in Houston, TX, but I do it because I want to. However, I never worry about asking someone to walk with me to my car, and I'm a very loud confident person. I've actually had scary people approach me on dark streets at night or early morning hours, and I've just whirled around on them and yelled louder than Sister Mary Elephant, "Who are you? What do you want? Why are you following me? Why are you standing there?" and such as that. I've had them run away from me. It's quite amusing.
Jul. 12th, 2008 06:19 pm (UTC)
The backup project
...is an idea of vito_excalibur's.

You can check the userinfo of this community, or visit http://www.backupproject.org to find out more!
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )