Today, I want to share a new type of “helpful” citizen. In the past I’ve shared the Concerned Citizen and the Proud Observer, today I want to talk about the Stalker. The Stalker will, quite literally stalk you. Sometimes it’s only for a short period, maybe down an aisle at the grocery store or for a portion of a block, other times it could be for a disturbingly long distance.
The motivations vary depending on the Stalker, sometimes they just want to figure out what it “wrong” with you, other times they could be collecting data so they can figure out how best to (unnecessarily) help you. They can be discreet, blending in with the non-creepy pedestrians, or it could be obvious (feeling breath on the back of your neck or stepping on your heels are two great examples). Sometimes they admit what they are doing, other times they lie and claim to be “working” or “just on a walk.”
I get them pretty frequently at the grocery store, the Stalker will follow me down the cereal lane and while I’m looking at the Honey Nut Cheerios will swoop in and offer me the 15 pound sack of generic honey nut loops (because, obviously, how could I have seen that?), they’ll steer me around pallats (which usually causes me to trip on them) or praise me for stepping out unattended. The Stalker is the “helpful citizen” version of a caterpillar, they’ll follow you around munching on leaves until the opportunity for them to quickly evolve into something else entirely. The Stalker will become a Concerned Citizen or Proud Observer in the blink of an eye, and can then quickly devolve back into Stalker form to pounce on some other unsuspecting person.
My most harrowing experience with a Stalker occurred when I went to school in Downtown Atlanta. I got off at Georgia State Station and about a block down the street I noticed a man kind of close to me, so I crossed the street (illegally) to walk on the other side, he followed. I get to the end of the block and hang a left, so did he, I crossed the street again, so did he. I go up the stairs and cut across a courtyard and a building and he was still behind me. So, I try to speed up my pace and stay in lit/populated areas. As I was walking I pulled out my cellphone and called the campus police, I told them the situation, where I was and where I was headed. Within a couple of minutes a police officer came up to me and I pointed out the man that had followed me for about 6 blocks at that point. When the police officer confronted the gentleman his response was: “I was just trying to make sure he knew where he was going.” My mouth dropped open so wide that I’m pretty sure I scraped my chin on the sidewalk. The officer took the man’s information and gave him a warning for harassment. I could not believe what he said, I also couldn’t believe that he sounded sincere when he said it. All that stress over a man who was trying to offer assistance (in the creepiest and most indirect manner).
Have you had any experiences with Stalkers? I’d love to hear them!