I was in twelfth grade the first time it happened. I was beginning the 15 minute walk from my house to the bus stop at the corner of our main road. The man in the yellow Jeep slowly pulled up beside me as I was walking. He looked to be in his early thirties, had spiky orange hair and a pale complexion. “Hey Honey….” he called out in a soft voice. I continued to walk,tightening the grip on the straps of my backpack and looking straight ahead…”Was he talking to me?”. He continued to slowly drive calling out to me. I turned towards his car and we made eye contact. He smiled warmly and rested his left arm on the rolled down window of the car door. “Are you walking to catch your bus?” he questioned. “Yeah, it’s just up there I replied”, pointing ahead to the other kids who were already gathering at the corner. “Why don’t you hop in and I’ll drive you to school” he suggested with a coy smile. I smiled back, gave him a shaky “no thank you”, and assured him I was fine to walk to the bus stop. With that, he gave me a quick wink and sped off. I met my schoolmates at the bus stop and by the end of the school day had forgotten all about the man in the yellow Jeep…that is, until the next morning.
The next morning I was walking to the bus stop again, when he returned. Same yellow Jeep. Same orange spiky hair. Same offer to drive me to school. I again, declined and assured him I didn’t need to take a ride from him. This time he didn’t leave quite as easily. He smiled as he drove beside me as I walked “Oh come on just hop in the car! You don’t want to walk ALL that way! Come on, hop in..I know you want to”, he teased. I nervously laughed a little and continued to walk to the bus stop. Finally he relented, give me a little wink, and sped off. The visits from the man in the yellow Jeep continued for the next 6 school days.
And then it happened. I made a terrible, dangerous mistake.
I’m not sure what exactly made that 6th day different, but when the man in the yellow Jeep returned my guard was down. Perhaps it was because we had continued our exchange for so many days in a row without incident, or maybe I was just tired and worn down that morning. Whatever the reason, I finally broke. We went through our usual routine of him begging me to get in his car and me declining, but this time as he smiled and persisted, I stopped walking and said “okay.” He stopped the Jeep, I crossed the street in front of him, and he slid across and opened the passenger door. As the door opened it was as if everything was suddenly in slow motion. I cautiously climbed into the passenger seat and set my backpack on my lap and closed the door. As soon as the door closed, alarm bells began to scream in my head. “What ARE YOU DOING?! This is bad….this is BAD!!” I instantly felt sick and was panicking. I began to pray silently apologizing to God for being so stupid and begging Him to help me and protect me from whatever situation I had just gotten myself into. As we drove to the high school he was staring straight ahead and so was I. His coy smile was gone. We rode in silence the entire way. I never stopped praying-well, more like begging for God’s help. He pulled into the school parking lot and as soon as the car began to slow down I opened the door, mumbled “thanks”, hopped out, and ran into the school. I walked briskly to the girls bathroom, went into the first stall and cried. I never saw the man in the yellow Jeep again.
The craziest part to this story is what kind of mother I have. My poor Mother… She did everything right regarding teaching my siblings and I about “stranger danger and safety. ” My Mother talked with us numerous times and at length about the dangers of talking to strangers. We had a family password if anyone other than my parents tried to pick us up from school, we had fire safety plans at home, and a family meeting spot out in our yard. I knew better. I knew to NEVER get into a car with a stranger. So why did I do it that day? Why do we sometimes do things we KNOW we shouldn’t do?
One of my least favourite things about our human nature is our desire to sometimes do things we know are not beneficial to us. This summer has been a tough one for me. I’m ready to admit that! 🙂 Our family has been very busy and I could list of bunch of other excuses for the lack of care I’ve put into health and fitness the past few months. Sure, I still consider us a “clean eating” family, which for most meals I make we are. But, we’ve been to BBQ’s, family dinners, and picnics with friends where I have not been as prepared as I have been in the past and we’ve been left to eat whatever is served to us. (Can we say hamburger, hotdog, and potato salad overload?) 🙂 I also put the brakes on my gym membership thinking that I wouldn’t possibly have time to get there regularly this summer and would just work out on my own (after-all, the weather is so beautiful out it’ll be easy to go for runs and walks right?) Well, I’m sure you can imagine how “regularly” a good workout has happened on my own! 🙁 SIGH…..
Well, it’s time to PULL IT TOGETHER! Yes, we all have set backs. Yes, we do things that we know aren’t what’s best (WHY?!!!) The important thing is to be self aware enough to recognize when we are slipping and to pull it together again. Every one of us makes mistakes. Every one of us makes bad choices. The amazing thing about our human free will is that we CAN CHOOSE to make changes! Isn’t that awesome?! It’s never too late to start making good choices! So today, I am choosing to pull it together, take more time to prepare healthy meals, and make fitness a priority! I’m not going to beat myself up. I’m not going to feel sorry for myself. I’m just going to make a CHANGE. Maybe you’ve had a rough summer too and are ready for a change! Let’s DO THIS together!!! 🙂
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