Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Real Life Experience

A week and a half ago, the day before Snowmageddon 2011 shut down north Georgia, Evan and I decided to break out of our usual routine.

And by "decided," I mean I begged and pleaded and cajoled until I brought him around to my point-of-view.

The day was cold, but still sunny, and knowing that most likely we'd be trapped inside for a few days, I thought it would be nice for us to get out in nature, even if just for a little while.

So we decided to drive up the road to visit Tallulah Gorge, which is some sort of natural canyon in the Appalachians. The GA State Parks website says that it's 2 miles long  and nearly 1,000 feet deep.

This place is about 20 minutes from our house, so we bundled up, grabbed a camera, and hit the road.

I had faulty directions, so the first place we stopped was actually not the park or a good view of the gorge, but it was still pretty. We did the picture thing, then got back in the car.

 The dam.

We figured out that the actual gorge was just a little further down the road. There was a tottering souvenir shop nailed into the side of the cliff, plastered in signs boasting of their "best view of the gorge," so we stopped. 

The wind was howling, and tiny snowflakes swirled all around, despite the bright sun. It was beautiful:

Feeling happy-go-lucky, we decided to go into the store and browse around. Lots of fun, cute stuff. We bought some hot cider, then went out on the porch to see the sights with a little protection from the wind. 

This was actually at the first spot, but demonstrates out happy-go-luckiness. 

The entrance to the state park was just a few hundred yards away from the shop, but Evan wanted to go home. Neither of us had dressed warm enough, so I agreed. We got back in the car and drove a little ways more, eventually crossing into the uppermost county in the state, then pulled a u-turn and were on the way home. 

Now, ever since we'd gone to the first viewpoint, we'd noticed a white Toyota following us. We didn't think anything of it, even when I noticed it again at the store, and again when we made the u-turn. 

The Toyota followed us all the way back to the town where we live. We were a little uncomfortable, but still figured it was coincidence. As we approached the first turn-off for our neighborhood, Evan decided not to put on his turn signal, so he made the turn suddenly. 

Toyota followed, and parked at the bottom of the hill. 

Now, I was more creeped out than Evan at this point, so I asked him to go straight over the hill and drive the loop around the neighborhood, rather than pulling directly onto our street, where the car driver could see us. He did, we parked at the house, and went inside. 

We needed to go back out to the grocery store, but for whatever reason we puttered around inside for about 25 minutes before going back outside. Just as we approached the car, we happened to look up at the road--to see the white Toyota driving by. 


We got into the car and started back onto the road. Just down the hill from our house is the tiny "town center," which consists of a post office, bank, and police station/city hall, all in the space of about 500 square feet. 

As we approached the post office, we saw the Toyota sitting on the edge of its parking lot, facing the road. Not parked, but waiting. 

As we drove by, toward the traffic light, the Toyota pulled out and followed us. 

We turned left. He turned left. 

He followed us all the way to the grocery store. 

Now, keep in mind that we were in the house for almost half an hour--and this guy was circling our neighborhood, looking for us (we guess). 

Evan still thought it was coincidence, but I've had nearly 25 years of worried mother in my head, advising me not to trust anyone, so I was already determined that something was Wrong. 

When we got to the grocery store, Evan turned toward the gas station instead of the parking lot, and the car followed. We did several strange maneuvers, all of which the car followed. At this point, it was pretty damn obvious, even to Evan, that we were being followed, still. 

So instead of parking, we went back to the road and turned down the road for the next little town. I wanted to go to the police station, which I'd always been told to do in these circumstances, but we didn't know where it was exactly. 

As we approached the town square, Evan pulled off into another parking lot near a bunch of restaurants and parked. As the car turned in after us, I grabbed Evan's arm and asked (told) him to back out and keep driving. As luck would have it, the police station was behind these restaurants, and we drove straight into the parking lot. 

Now, I didn't see what happened, but Evan said that when we pulled into the parking lot, the white Toyota went straight down the little road instead of parking. So when we parked at the police station, we didn't see the car. 

I ran inside, only to find the place was locked. Locked! On a Saturday! There was a little foyer, so we stood there while Evan called one of his co-workers, who gave us directions to the sheriff's department. 

To sum up this long story, we went to the sheriff's dept, filed a report, and a deputy followed us back home. We didn't see the white Toyota again. 

Why was he following us?
Why was he circling our neighborhood? 
What if I hadn't gotten Evan to drive the long way to our house? 
Did he see where we lived, for sure? 

Evan and I didn't even have so much as a baseball bat at the time. But we live in the basement apartment of a house, and we're surrounded by 5 other families, all within 30 feet. Not an ideal place to try and rob, if that's what the guy was after. 

I know appearances can be deceiving, but it was a nice car--nicer than ours, for sure. Probably a 2008 Corolla SS, GPS on the window. Guy was dressed for cold weather, but had on sunglasses. I saw a wedding ring glint in the sun at one point. 

Who was he? We still don't know.

Going to sleep that night was terrifying, and the next day we bought some motion-sensor security lights. Then the snow came and trapped everyone for a week. 

All I can hope is that the guy was trying to pull a very not-funny prank on a young couple. 

Has anyone else had this experience? What did you do? 


Sarah Ahiers said...

i still think that is effed up beyond belief. I can't think of any logical reason for him to follow you like that.
I had a friend come over to visit a few months ago and on her drive over here she accidentally ran a stop sign. Some lady followed her for 15 minutes (like you, she drove around crazily) until my friend called us and told us. When she parked outside of our house she ran inside and Twin went out to talk to the women.
The women apologized if she scared our friend, which Twin made it very clear she HAD scared our friend and it was inappropriate to follow her, even if she had broken a traffic law.
I mean, what was the lady thinking? My friend could have been a crazy person with a gun. Why did she think following her was a good idea?

Lola Sharp said...

Dude. *shudder* I am freaked out.

I've been stalked, and even beaten by a stalker (long time ago)....but it was an ex boyfriend. (yes, I had a restraining order, no, it didn't work. His wealthy family got him out of doing any jail time.)
I've never been stalked by a stranger. That is so scary.

I'm assuming you got the license plate and the police have it on record?

Be careful, love.

Tracy said...

Okay, that was FREAKY!

And what is it with men (your husband included) thinking things like that are just a co-incidence. I watch far too much Criminal Minds not to be nervous about stuff like that.

I had something similar to that happen to me one night, years ago, when I lived in Florida. Scared the crap out of me. You never know with people.

Unknown said...

Jeez, Summer! That's so scary. There are some whack jobs living amongst us, that's for sure. Glad to hear you got motion sensor lights. Hopefully, that's the last you'll ever see of him. Kudos for making the police report. That's what I would have done!

Teri Anne Stanley said...

That IS very creepy. Very. Creepy. How not subtle of whoever it was to follow you like that! But I have to say...the imagination takes this all kinds of interestingly fictional places.
Was it a crazy ex-lover? A case of mistaken identity? A private investigator because you are the secretly adopted love child of the Prince of Moldavia and Marilyn Monroe?
I'm glad you are okay!

Melissa Hurst said...

Oh wow, that's beyond creepy! I'm so glad he finally went away!

Diane J. said...

Freaky! Please tell me you got the license plate for the police.

Matthew MacNish said...

I'm not trying to be funny, but you do realize that is like Deliverance county, right? Thank goodness Evan was with you. I mean I don't live far from you, and the Hicks of NoGA scare the hell out of me sometimes. But this guy doesn't really sound like a redneck. It could be that he didn't like the look of you or something, up in "his town" but that seems like an awful long way to follow someone.

Meredith said...

That's so scary! Why would he do that? Thank goodness you finally found the sheriff's department!

Joan Crawford said...

I was stalked by two guys. One an ex-boyfriend and one a guy I met at a party who wanted to date but I didn't.
Some weirdos stalk people like that in their cars. They literally drive around until they see one they "like" and then they follow them about their day.
I am Super Paranoid about that stuff too and I would have called the cops from my car, using my Panicked Woman voice if I was by myself. My husband is like yours and is more relaxed and so eventually we would have done the exact same thing you did. I would tell all your neighbors and people who work in the area. Put out a public watch for this freak - so if he comes sniffing around again, someone can call the police. Really, really, do this. You aren't out of line, this person obviously doesn't adhere to the social norms and it's better safe than sorry.
If he comes around again, you might even talk to the local paper. Scare the freak.

Christopher said...

That would make me even more paranoid than I already am. Reminds of that scene from Goodfellas where Ray Liota has that helicopter following him.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't blame you for being paranoid! Glad you two went to the sheriff's office.

Old Kitty said...

Oh wow. Oh how creepy!! I am so sorry you experienced this - how awful and scary for both of you. Oh my goodness. Thank goodness you had presence of mind to park at the police car park - even if they were shut - it was enough to scare that creepy car away.!!. thank goodness you're both safe!!! Take care please!!!!! x

Linda G. said...

Soooo creepy! I'm glad you weren't alone. In any case, I think you did the right thing not leading him back to where you lived. Might have been better if you'd managed to get the license plate number. That can be difficult, though, I know.

DL Hammons said...

I'm one of those guys who would jump out at a red light and walk up to the car to see what his deal was. Not a big fan of cat and mouse, or playing games.

You do have some pepper spray in your purse, right?

Hannah said...

OMG, that's like super freaky. I discussed it with The Man and he has some theories...

Unknown said...

I wanted you to know that your blog is one of the one's I have passed the Stylish Blogger Award to. I enjoy your pieces and felt others should too. Go to my blog for details on what to do and for a copy of your badge :)

DEZMOND said...

gorgeous pics, gorgeous place, gorgeous hubs and love the word Snowmageddon :)

Katie Anderson said...

Scary! I'm very glad you haven't seen him since.

Tanya Reimer said...

My second reactions was- what a great start for a story. (Glad it turned out OK was my first one.)Maybe it will inspire a few scenes... So, since your blog is so awesome, I awarded you with the sylish blogger award. You can pick it up on my blog.

Luna said...

I was excited about the first part of this post! I've been to that store and checked out that gorge almost three years ago. My husband's nana lived in Clarkesville then, but recently moved to a nursing home in Demorest. It's beautiful down there where you live! Nice pics!

Sorry about the scary incident with the Toyota. Yikes! I hope that was just a freaky coincidence.