I was mistaken for a . . .


Read the original article over at Gig Harbor Life.

I was sitting in my car eating lunch on a sunny day at some county baseball fields when another car pulled in. There was no one else in the parking lot. That’s why I was so curious. Then curiosity turned into greasy fear when the car sidled up right next to me.

Sandwich in one hand and Words With Friends on my phone in the other, I noticed that my car was off and the power windows were down. There were probably 150 parking spots, and it chose that one. What had I done? Someone I cut off who had finally found me? An unmarked cop car that thought I was up to no good? A socially awkward lonely person who was about to tell me their life story if I made eye contact?

I just wanted to eat my sandwich and ruin someone’s day with a massive Words With Friends score. But it was my day that was about to be ruined.

All of this flew through my head as the car arrived. It was an innocuous sedan, just like mine. The guy in the other car looked in his 40s, grizzled, like he had been on a hunting trip where the only thing they hunted was beer cans. In a word: unsavory.

His car was parked in the spot right next to my passenger door. I froze, trying not to look. Was he going to leave? Of course not. He immediately got out of his car and tried to open my car’s door handle in the same motion.

His voice, quick and low, “I thought you said you had a silver Honda.”

At this point, I had only one thing going for me. The passenger door was locked. But the nubbin to unlock it was right by his gross badger paws. Since he expected the car to be open and inviting him in, he didn’t think to unlock it himself, although he was being as familiar with my car as I was. I was not happy about this.

“Hey man, I’m just here eating my lunch,” was all I could think of to say. He got this panicked look on his face and just as quickly jumped back in his car and took off. I sat there a moment, took three more bites of sandwich, looked down at my phone, and then said aloud, “I should probably go now.” I could feel a look starting on my face, like sour milk spreading on a dirty floor.

It was a five-minute drive back to work, and I was trying to figure out what just happened to me. Silver Honda. A guy obviously not at work on a Wednesday afternoon. The look he had that wasn’t quite right. I didn’t do anything wrong. All I was doing was eating my lunch in a public place.

It had to be something illegal. What was it? Drugs? Did I look like a drug dealer? Was it my polo shirt? Was I a fancy drug dealer? He didn’t look like he had enough money to buy drugs from me. I couldn’t understand. A Honda Accord is too boring a car for a drug dealer. I have very ordinary hubcaps.

I got back to the office and immediately told the story to my two buddies. “Ummm — he was trying to pick you up.” “For drugs?” “No, not drugs.” “Ohhh — ohhhhhh! Oh man!!! Nooo!” Somebody thought I was a dude of the night, in the middle of the day. I said, “It had to be drugs, it had to be, I don’t look like …” and they countered, “You don’t get in someone’s car to buy drugs, you just hand them out the window as you drive by each other. Or if you get in the car, it’s only because you know them.” And yes, I remembered the gas station by my old house, where I’d see people cruise by the same car in the back of the parking lot.

Immediately my friend started searching Craigslist on his phone for the name of the park and “silver Honda.” Nothing. I asked him how he was so good at searching for something like that. He gave me a look. Still nothing.

In the end we never found out. All I was left with was constant jokes about where I ate my lunch, if I’d seen any silver Hondas lately, and people still arguing about what actually happened. I’ve never thought I’d utter the words, “I hope it was drugs.” But I do, I really do.

Shaun Kempston lives in Gig Harbor with his wife and two sons. He writes down stories that he tells too many times, so that maybe he can stop telling them. So far, this hasn’t worked very well. Contact Shaun at shaunkempston.wordpress.com and follow him on Twitter at @shaun_says_this.

Read the published article over at the Kitsap Sun’s Gig Harbor community section.


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