Professional detachment

So I’m sitting at work, updating various things about tonight’s special election and some exciting news about two carjackings that happened on the same street within about an hour of each other, when my boss asks me if I’m wrapping up.

“Yeah, just waiting on video,” I said, as I was still recording the late newscast.

“Well, when you leave, make sure someone walks out with you. You know, those two carjackings.”

“Oh yeah!” I said. They had occurred rather close to the station, hadn’t they?

Finally those two realities–the fact that there were carjackers out there, perhaps two groups of them, and the fact that I was far from home in the middle of the night and I was going to have to walk to my car–came together in my head, and slowly and steadily I began to freak out.

As I was clocking out, Female News Anchor made some comment to me about the election and I somehow managed to respond, though at that point I could care less about whether there was going to be a recount in the narrow victory of Broun over Marlow for the runoff with Whitehead. I wanted to get out as fast as possible. I hurried down the hall to the newsroom, which seemed oddly bright and cheery for 11:30 pm, and I gazed around at all the happy faces, looking for someone to escort me.

Jeremy came up the hall at that point, and he’s a decent-sized guy, so I said, “Want to protect me from carjackers?” and he laughed and said sure and walked me to my car.

I thanked him and he started turning around too quickly for my comfort, so I practically flew around the car and jammed the key in and leapt into my seat. All around it was dark and quiet. Anyone could come running out of the night and try to take my car. And those carjackers, at least in the first incident, had a gun!

A car appeared on the road behind me then, so I left my headlights off lest the driver realize I was there and then, once it was past, flipped on the lights, slammed the car into gear, and jerked away from the side of the road.

The drive home was surreal. I decided to avoid my usual route, as that was the road where both carjackings had occurred, but the alternate route was dimly-lit and eerie. My eyes darted back and forth, looking for predators in the shadows. I stayed in the inner lanes whenever possible to make it more difficult for someone to suddenly run up alongside the car. When I came up on other vehicles, I tried to drive so that the drivers wouldn’t be able to see into my car and tell I was a girl.

Every time I thought about relating my terror in writing, it threatened to overwhelm me, and I had to growl at myself and shake my head and force my hands not to grip the steering wheel.

Finally I pulled into my parking lot. But did I feel safe? After all, one of the carjackings happened in an apartment parking lot, and the other in a man’s driveway. How could I think that anywhere was safe knowing that, even if both events had happened across town? They found the first car but not the second. If I could have driven across town in that time, so could they.

And of course, my usual spot right in front of our door was taken because I was so late in getting home, so I had to park a few doors down.

I decided to walk along the railroad ties holding our landscaping in place to get to the door, rather than walking around the cars in the parking lot. And it was with much paranoia that I fumbled to get my key in the lock.

But I’m home now. Home and safe. I suppose.

If my boss hadn’t mentioned an escort, I probably wouldn’t have even thought about the proximity of the carjackings to my workplace. But after she did, the fear consumed me. Funny, that.