giving rides to strangers

I was sitting at my computer, thinking about a few different blog posts I could write, when I saw this post just sitting in my drafts…a couple of years old, but MAN how did I ever not share this?  So here we are.  I wrote this post back in December 2014, and I’m sharing it now.

Before I go into this story, let me begin with a preface: I am alive and well!

I woke up on Saturday morning at 5:30 am to drive to Macon, GA to pick up my car from the Honda dealership where it was being repaired.  This ordeal is a story in itself, and one that I won’t go into in this post.  I spent four hours driving to Macon only to swap cars and turn around to head back to Gainesville.

When I pulled off the highway into Gainesville after eight hours of solo driving, I decided to stop at the mall and get a pedicure.

Flash forward to an hour later.  My toes were polished, my heels were soft and I was relaxing as I sat under the lamp letting them dry, when a woman came and sat next to me.  My best visual for her is Cynthia Rose from Pitch Perfect (but about 10 years older).

So this woman starts making small talk with me, and eventually asks what part of town I live in.  She seems friendly enough, so I tell her that I live near the UF campus.  After I tell her, she asks, “Can I hitch with you?”

It took me about 45 seconds of dumbfounded silence to realize that she was asking me for a ride.

She went on to explain that it had taken her three hours to get to the mall by bus and that she just really wanted to get home.  Weary, I explained that I had to stop somewhere else before I headed home.  “That doesn’t matter,” she said.  “It’ll still be faster than by bus!  I can’t even hardly find my way out of this mall!”

So reluctantly, in an effort to do a good deed (and an inability to say no when she put me on the spot), I said yes, that I’d give her a ride.

We leave the nail salon, and are walking to my car, when she began shouting at a mall cop.  “Look at you, you little peanut head!  I see you!”  I picked up my pace; she followed suit.  “Do you know him?”  I ask nervously with a giggle.  “No, but did you see his little head in that helmet?!” she exclaimed.  Oh man.  Ohhhhh man.

We get to my car, and I put the windows down.  At this point, I’m just thinking, “Crap. I hope this woman doesn’t rob me.  Or hustle me.”  So I figure that if I have my windows down, I can at least get some attention should she try anything.

So I begin the drive to her home, and as we drive she tells me of her jilted ex-lover who’s been texting and calling a lot.  “He needs to step off or else,” she said.  I giggle nervously (a theme for this entire saga).  “I got a new girlfriend, and she’s real jealous,” she tells me.  “She doesn’t like me talking to anybody else.”

My mind is swirling with scenarios of her new girlfriend and ex-lover both awaiting my arrival.  She continues telling stories as I drive aggressively and hastily, trying to make every possible light and get this good deed done as quickly as possible.  I would recount more of the stories, but I don’t actually remember them.  I think I blacked out in anxiety.  “This is our turn,” she tells me.  We were almost there.

About five minutes later, we pulled up to the house.  I keep my hand on the gearshift, ready to throw it in reverse as soon as she’s out of the car.  “THANK YOU LADY!” she shouts as she walks away from the car.  “YOU’RE WELCOME!” I shouted back, as I sped away and thanked God for sparing me from harm in that stupid decision I had just made.

defending myself and climbing rocks

I woke up this past Saturday with a strange feeling.  What the heck am I going to do today?  I’ve spent so many of my past weekends traveling or going to events that I had no clue what to do with a wide-open Saturday.  I decided to seize the day and conquer some more of my 101 in 1001 list!

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I guess I should disclose, I actually conquered a bit of it on Friday night too.  Maddie and I hosted a game night at our place.  We used to host these a lot at our old apartment, but it had been quite a while.  It was good to be back at it!

Back to Saturday…Once a month, my gym hosts an instructor from the Global Mixed Martial Arts Academy.  The instructor teaches a one-hour self defense class for women where we learn about strikes (hitting with our elbows or knees) or escaping attacks.  It was intense!  We learned how to get out of a chokehold, a bear hug from behind, a knife-to-the-throat…pretty serious stuff.  It was actually invigorating to do!  Obviously the hope and goal is that I’ll never have to use these skills, but at least I’m prepared.

After class, I headed with my friends Justine and Alex to the Gainesville Rock Gym for an afternoon of climbing.  We bouldered and did top-rope climbing (after getting trained in belaying).  It was awesome!  I have been rock climbing before (on actual rocks in Alabama back in high school and on the Lake Wauberg rock wall in college) but doing it indoors was a new experience.  It was an arm workout, for sure, and a fun bonding experience for Alex, Justine and myself.