I should premise this story by saying I’m a paranoid person by nature. When I travel alone I barricade the hotel room door. I triple-check the locks at night. I’m the one who asks, “Did you beep the car?” multiple times.
This morning I made an early morning grocery store run. I pushed my cart into the parking lot and stopped my cart behind my car so that I could load my groceries. There was a car backed into the spot next to me, lights on and running. As I started putting bags into the back of my car, the window of the car rolled down to reveal a woman inside.
“I love your glasses,” she said to me.
“Oh, thank you!” I told her, continuing to load my car. “They’re actually cheater readers because I’m old and I can’t see anymore!” I thought this would be the end of our conversation, but she pressed on.
“Where did you get them?” she asked.
“At The Loft,” I replied, hurrying up a bit.
“Is that in the mall? Where is The Loft?”
At this point, I started to get a little leery. Here’s where my train of thought went: a few months ago, a person was mugged in this very grocery store parking lot around 8am in the morning (it was 7:30am). I had just gotten money back when I paid the cashier. Had someone inside watched me? Who was behind me in line? Was this their getaway car? Is that why it was running? Did a husband and wife team work together? Was it her role to sit in the car and distract someone with small talk while her counterpart surprises them and robs them? Am I total nut job???
See, I told you I was paranoid!
I was trying to be nice, while checking out my surroundings, and getting the hell back in my car.
Also, for the record, my little cheater reader glasses ARE really nice. I do get lots of compliments on them.
“It’s in Milford,” I tell her, slamming my trunk. “In that little strip mall.”
I push my cart into the cart corral and hurry to my door, checking over my shoulder.
“See you later!” I tell her, hopping in my car and hitting the door lock.
Once I was safely inside, that’s when I started to feel badly. She really was just being nice, and here I was paranoid she was part of an elaborate mugging scheme.
The world has changed so much, and it’s disheartening. Ten years ago, I would never have had those crazy thoughts. I would have had a normal conversation with this woman without worrying that someone was watching me. I wouldn’t be cataloging in my mind everyone I saw after checkout who could have seen me get money from the cashier. (The fact that someone was robbed in that very parking lot didn’t help, either.)
When I look at what the world has become, I often wonder how any of us who grew up in the 80s are even alive. We left the house in the morning and came home for dinner. We didn’t have cell phones to check on (or for parents to track us).
It makes me sad for what the world is going to morph into as Little Mister gets older. Will he never feel safe outside? (Or, more likely, will I never feel safe letting him play outside?) When I was in middle school, I was considered a ‘walker’, which basically meant I walked to school. And, I would take the short cut to school, which meant walking through the woods. Can you imagine this happening today? A school saying it was ok for a 12-year-old to walk through the woods alone to school?
I know I will be a paranoid mother – probably more so than I have to be. Will he think I’m crowding him? Probably. Being over protective? Yep. Annoying? I’m sure. But it’s who I am for myself, and who I will undoubtedly be for Little Mister.