Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Rainy Night I'll Never Forget

It was Easter, 2002. My beautiful young wife, Mary Sue, and I had just enjoyed an Easter gathering with family and were driving home. At the time we lived in a small two bedroom apartment in Virginia Beach, while our first home was under construction in Chesapeake. We were pretty jacked up excited about our new home and decided to drive past it to see construction progress, which we did pretty often.
Now to illustrate how ridiculous our exuberance was about this, it was after 8pm, so it was dark, and to top it all off, it was raining. But our enthusiasm for our "home to be" was off the charts and we wouldn't be deterred. 
So we headed down I-664 to the number 12 Exit and drove into the neighborhood. It was mostly vacant lots with only a few homes under construction. Our new home was situated towards the front of a cul de sac, and was the only one under construction at the time on that street. We turned onto Tattinger Trail (the name of our new street) and slowly drove past the partially framed home, giddy with excitement. Admittedly we couldn't see much, but we didn't care. THIS WAS OUR NEW HOME! I continued driving to the end of the cul de sac and turned around once there and headed back to pass the house again to make our exit.
However, as I made my way back up the street, I noticed a car headed our way. I believe it was a red Trans Am. I moved to the right of the road to give him space to get around. But as I did, I noticed him move in the same direction, as if to block my exit. He clearly was not interested in getting past me or letting me past him. So then I shifted to the left lane to go around, but as I did another small car appeared from behind the Trans Am and effectively blocked our exit. My wife and I looked at each other, "this is not good", I said. We were both pretty uncomfortable to say the least. Were we about to be robbed or killed? Why would two cars behave in such an aggressive manner? We didn't want to have to find out.
A chill ran down my spine. Here we were, basically trapped in the cul de sac, in the dark, in the rain by two unknown people driving aggressively. In just a few seconds I had to decide what to do. Getting out and finding out what they wanted was out of the question. I also quickly eliminated going off road, even though I drove a 4WD vehicle. The lots were extremely muddy and I couldn't risk getting stuck. But I couldn't just sit there and wait, so I put the car in reverse and began to drive backwards slowly to the cul de sac. I was just doing this to buy time... to think. I gave Mary Sue my cell phone and asked her to call the police. As we drove in reverse, the two cars moved towards us, so apparently we were ALL headed to the cul de sac. As we got back there, I realized a funny thing. Because they followed me back there, the two cars were no longer wide enough together to block the now wider space in the cul de sac. There was some space to the left of the smaller white car. I decided that I was going to put the car back in drive, hit the gas hard and squeeze past them on the left. I asked Mary Sue to duck her head as a precaution and I put the car in drive. Just as I did I noticed the passenger door on the white car opening. I had to choose. Do I go through with the plan and "floor it", knowing that there wasn't enough room to pass without hitting the opening door and whoever was about to come out? Or do I let them come out and approach us?
I decided that staying and finding out what they wanted was not a risk I was willing to take. So I put the pedal to the floor and drove straight for the opening door. That night it was either gonna be them or us, and I decided, we were not about to become victims. They were able to close their door just milliseconds before I passed them. They tried to chase us but only followed us for a quarter mile or so.
That was a scary night. We never found out who they were, or what they wanted. I did ask around. They were not some kind of security for the builders. The police didn't have any answers either. 
On that night, I learned a lot about myself. I learned that when pushed into a corner, I'm bright enough to find my way out. But I also learned that if I felt danger to me or someone I loved, I was willing to run someone over to protect myself and her. I am comfortable with my choices that night.
Would I have been wrong to do so? Should I have found out what these people wanted? 

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