…creepy adventures!

Today I ran to the store. At 23:40. Yeah, that’s military time for 11:40 at night. Why run at night? Because it’s cooler. And darker. And I run faster when I run in the dark for some reason. So I mostly run either on the treadmill or at night. And normally this isn’t a problem. (I have been doing this since I lived in CLEVELAND! I mean, if you’re gonna have problems, you would think they would happen there, in the city…)

Tonight changed my perspective on night running a bit. It started off like my normal Thursday night runs. I set off with the intention of running a quick mile, stopping at the store for maybe five minutes, and getting home in time for Burn Notice (I missed the teaser and act one the first time due to class). I ran past a bunch of drunk/getting drunk summer freshman and had fun playing “How Close Can I Get Before They Hear or Notice Me” with them. (It’s quite fun! You should try it sometime!)

About a mile into my run (500 meters from the store), I began to hear the quiet ticking of a bicycle coming up behind me. Since it wasn’t rapidly approaching (as bikes normally do, since two wheels are generally faster than two legs on flat ground), my “spidey sense” started tingling. I picked up the pace, but I wasn’t scared too much because I was not far from the store.

As I approached the store, I saw the bike and rider pull up to the store’s bike parking. I hurried into the well-lit store and waited by the entrance for the biker to come in so I could see him (or her, I suppose, but something told me he was a he) in the light. He did not immediately enter the store behind me, so my internal dialogue ran something like this:
“Dude, that guy is SO waiting right outside the store to rob you OR WORSE!”
“Naw, he’s prolly just on his way to the store to go shopping like you.”
“Then WHY didn’t he come IN the store?”
“Maybe he thinks YOU’RE the creeper?”
“HE was following ME!”
“You got me there.”
“Let’s buy something to fight him off with.”
“Okay, but it has to be something we already need.”
“Fine. How about a mop?”

And so, instead of buying pretzels, I bought a mop.

I headed to the register to pay, peering out the store window to see if my alleged bike creeper was out there, waiting for me. I didn’t see him, and sort of relaxed. Reasonable me convinced paranoid me that I was just being crazy and have an overactive imagination and maybe shouldn’t be thinking about Burn Notice so much.

At this point I was cutting it pretty close…if I wanted to make it back in time to catch the beginning of Burn Notice on the repeat, I had to leave the store within 5 minutes of my arrival and run the 0.3 mile shortcut home. So sure, my reasonable self managed to convince me pretty thoroughly that I was just paranoid. Reasonable me wanted to get home!

After I finished paying, as I was tucking my receipt into my wallet, I saw a darkly dressed Hispanic man of about the same height and build as my creeper leaving the store. WITHOUT BUYING ANYTHING. Like he had been waiting near the exit for me the whole time. All that relief that I had JUST felt left me instantly. “OH crap,” my internal dialogue began.

But I didn’t want to be a cliche and I didn’t want to be my mother (who distrusts anyone who is not a WASP). So instead of telling the clerk my suspicions, I walked out of the store into the foyer. (Yanno, the place in Wal-Mart where you get the carts. Except this wasn’t a Wal-Mart, it was a grocery store. It had plants and fertilizer, not carts.) The foyer was glass, and I could see my alleged creeper walking slowly….to the bike rack.

My suspicions confirmed, I stayed in the foyer, pulse racing.

He was waiting for me to leave, because he got on his bike and just sat there for about three minutes, fiddling around with the seat or something, glancing toward me every ten seconds or so. I just stayed in the doorway brandishing my mop…

I could easily run for help, but didn’t want to seem paranoid or racist.

Eventually he rode off–slowly–toward the opposite way that he had come. However, there was a sidewalk that loops around to the sidewalk I took there (and would be taking back) so I watched him bike away until I couldn’t see him anymore. Right as I lost sight of him, he turned back in the same direction I was going. However, he was so far away at this point, I was confident I could make it to the hill before he caught up.

My shortcut home after my mile-long run to the store is up a giant 0.3 mile hill. I knew that there was no frakking way this dude could ride his bike up it as fast as I could walk–or run, if need be–up it. Still, the ~300 meters between the store and the hill were a little nerve-wracking. I was wielding my mop like Mulan the whole time, turning around every ten seconds or so to make sure I couldn’t see the creeper or his bike anywhere. (And yes, I probably DID look crazy to any normal person who happened to see me doing this! πŸ™‚ )

When I finally reached the hill, I set off up that sucker like I never have before. But made it home safely, and that’s what matters, right? Plus I got a great workout out of the deal! Between the final initial run to the store and the heart-pounding action after I left, I am BEAT! I’ll sleep well tonight! πŸ˜€

My only regret? I missed the beginning of Burn Notice! AGAIN! 😦

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