Don’t You Trust Me?
Walnut Creek, CA
I am at work this morning and feeling more and more disturbed from a 30-second encounter that happened early this morning. A friend at work suggested I jot it down while I still remember the details. When I re-read it, I thought you would be interested. There are some lessons here. And I editorialize at the end.
~~~~~~Wednesday morning, September 13 ~~~~~~
I was at a gas station in Walnut Creek, across the street from the Marriott at about 6:45 a.m. As I was putting my credit card into the gas pump, a man approached me. I made a very quick, silent decision inside my head that whatever he asked me for, I would say no. Usually, people ask if they can put some gas in their car on my credit card. And I just didn’t feel like dealing with that scam.
He was pale white, a little bit chubby, maybe 5’9”, dark hair, wearing a white tank-tee shirt. Looked to be in his mid 20s. Maybe 180 lbs.
He asked if I could help him. He said that he needed someone to hold up the handle while someone else turns the key otherwise it doesn’t work. I didn’t think about what he was asking, I just said “I’m not going to help you with that. You should talk to the guy inside the station. He can probably help you.”
He asked, “What’s the matter, don’t you trust me?”
I said “Yes, that’s exactly it” (It was almost comical to me that he would use that line. I had no hesitation in agreeing with him.)
As he turned and walked away, he muttered something about it being his girlfriend’s car(?).
I expected he would linger around waiting to ask someone else for help, but instead, by the time I turned back around, he was speeding out of the gas station, in a shiny white sedan. (I recall the shininess because it looked either new or newly clean).
There was no one else at the station (there is usually someone inside the mini-mart, but I didn’t bother to look around beyond the filling area).
~~~~~ Some Thoughts ~~~~~~
The more I reflect on this, the more nervous I get. I don’t think he was actually asking for help, or why would he have sped out of the station instead of either asking the attendant or asking the next customer who arrived? He was specifically asking me to do something inside or next to his car, using my hands to help him hold a handle or turn a key. What if he was trying to get me into his car? Most disturbing, is he going to try this same ploy again on some other woman? How can I report this to the police. (Imagine filing a Report: A man asked me for help at a gas station, when I said no he drove away?) He did not commit a crime or even bother me much, but I strongly suspect he was up to no good. I am thankful I had the presence of mind to turn him away and was not affected in the least by his two very common ploys, both of which usually work on women because we are expected to be helpful, polite and to look out for other people’s feelings (the ploys being: asking for help and accusing me of not trusting him).
In my mid-20s, a stranger actually got me into his apartment to look at his artwork, by appealing to my sense of obligation and literally by saying “Don’t you trust me?” to which I automatically replied “Oh, it’s not that, it’s just…. Well, o.k.” I have kicked myself over and over for that reaction and for falling for that manipulative line. Thankfully, nothing bad happened then. I spent the time in his apartment poised to physically defend myself, trying to be polite and appreciative of his artwork, which I didn’t care one wit about, but at least there actually was art. For crying out loud!!! What the hell do I care if I hurt some stranger’s feelings by not being interested in his artwork or by telling him that no, I don’t trust him? Maybe it was the regret from that experience that gave me the presence of mind to say no this morning and to laugh inside when he asked, “What’s the matter? Don’t you trust me?” I will NEVER, EVER trust anyone who says that.
Anyway, I'm fine, but disturbed. And I just wanted to remind everyone to not be afraid to say no. We don't need to help strangers who approach us. There are people who can help those who legitimately need help. We don't even need to offer to find such people for them (i.e. police officers or AAA tow trucks). They can just find them themselves. Just take care of yourself and be safe and PLEASE don't protect other people's feelings!!! Especially strangers!!!
I submitted a brief, factual description to the police dept., through their online comment form. I knew that without a crime, they probably wouldn't take a report. But I got the information and my recollections into their record, just in case a crime of that type does occur. So they have my contact information.