It was just another day at the office. I was leaving work at my normal time 4:45PM from my desk job at a large auto manufacturing plant. It was late fall and the sun was already starting to get low in the sky, stretching out the shadows of the cars, light poles, and what few trees were around. The parking lot I was in was massive and I had a good quarter mile walk to my car. I was enjoying the cool breeze brush past my face when I picked up on footsteps behind me.
How long has this person been behind me?
Why am I just hearing him now?
I wasn’t too concerned just yet, but my awareness and curiosity of this stranger behind me was peaked. I listened intently to the cadence of his steps as he walked behind me. Sounded like he was about 20 – 25 feet behind me.
I began to alter my pace to test him. I’d speed up for a minute, then slow down. He always stayed the same distance behind me.
The hairs on the back of my neck began to stand up. My ears perked, listening to each footfall behind me.
I began weaving through cars in the parking lot, still making my way to my own car but in a more erratic fashion. The footsteps were still behind me.
The steps stayed a consistent 20 feet behind me.
I looked around for anyone nearby that might be able to help. A security guard, another employee, anyone. No one was around.
It was just me and him.
In this massive parking lot with hundreds, maybe thousands, of cars, there was only the two of us. What were the odds? I casually glanced to my side using the reflection of a nearby car window to sneak a peak at the stranger following me. The most I could make out were that his hands were buried in his jacket pockets. Was he hiding a knife or gun? I couldn’t make it out in the split second glance I got.
I started weaving between the cars more erratically sometimes taking 90º turns. If he really is following me, this tactic would show his hand once and for all and we’d both know it.
Gradually, the footsteps dissipated. I took a deep breath and relaxed a bit, still keeping a cautious eye out around me.
Was the guy behind me simply walking towards his car or was he a potential mugger and got spooked when he realized I knew he was following me? I’ll never know…
…but I was ready for him.