It’s not just celebrities that get stalked. I’ve been stalked myself.
April the 18th is Stalking Awareness Day, and some people with experience on this subject will also be blogging, hopefully I will link to those from my blog shortly. I’ve gone in a bit early, we all know how forgetful I can be.
My Stalker Experience
It was over a decade ago, when I lived in Cornwall a man started acting odd.
He was a bus driver, I simply said “Hello” one evening on the bus home, it was a half an hour bus journey in silence otherwise. It was a journey I took regularly. The bus route to and from my place of employment, not a great job, just a fast food staff person.
The same bus drivers drove on each route but in shifts, so I knew their faces and names from their badges, and they all knew me by my work uniform and face too. Nice normal friendly acquaintances, nothing sinister.
But this changed. This driver I will call Jim, not the real name obviously. One evening it was dark and cold, I was the only passenger on the bus, so I stood at the front and chatted to Jim. I often stood at the front and chatted to the driver, I was not flirty or “asking for it” in any way.
Thought nothing much of it for a while, but noticed Jim would be in places I was in. Shops I was a regular at, nightclubs, popping into the bus station cafe at just the time I’d be waiting for a bus. Coincidence I told myself.
Then Jim started coming in to my work as a customer, with his wife and kids in tow. He would come in during my shifts, to my till. Creepy sod would order at the tills like any normal dad and husband would. Then she would sit the kids down, whilst he conveniently waited at the till for the order to be cooked. I could feel his eyes scanning me up and down. After the first few visits he started to add in compliments whispered quietly near me. I told myself it was my imagination, it wasn’t!
Within a few weeks he had learnt all sorts about me, I’m not sure how. I presume that he asked things of my colleague Bob. Another fake name. Bob had disabilities, the body of an adult but the social ability and intelligence of a child. Often when I came to work Bob would have his shirt on wonky, and have his breakfast on his face. I’d tell him he’d missed a bit on his munch and to have a wash and sort out his buttons for him. It’s like others were scared of Bob, he was lovely really. Well meaning. For Jim to get info off of Bob wouldn’t be a shock. But it’s still low to take advantage of a man with disabilities.
Jim now changed his shifts to match my working patterns! Eww! I remember he came in one day – he had gone round drive through lane with the wife and kids, acting normal, then he pops in to the store with a fake complaint. Tells me he loves me and that he’s leaving the wife for me. I say something along the lines of ‘jog on mate! I’m not interested, you’ve been chasing me. I’m not playing ‘hard to get’ I’m genuinely not flipping interested. Leave me alone.”
This didn’t help! It’s like the extra challenge of “hard to get” excited him. Like the risk, the danger of the wife finding out about his “affair” was a thrill. He stepped it up a bit.
Buses started to pass my home and beep, he knew my address now? My home at this time was a rented room in someone else’s home, just a lodger. The buses were not even meant to use this road. He was diverting his route to be nearer me! I looked out from net curtains, it was Jim alright. The next coincidental meeting he informs my he liked that yellow in my lounge. Not only did he drive past but he looked right in!!!!
How the hell? Was he following me? What idiot told him my address? How many times had he been outside, looking in? There was a park opposite the house, he could sit and watch from a distance. Oh gawd, maybe he watches when I got to my room to dress after a shower?
Worrying a bit now.
His face would pop up all over the place, bumping in to me or people I knew. Weirdo! I considered him more of a nuisance that a danger, but he was unstable at the very least.
One night shift a manager at work says “Oh Julie I forgot to tell you your boyfriend phoned for you again” I reply “What boyfriend? What do you mean AGAIN?!” seems Jim was regularly phoning up, saying things like “did Julie get to work safe, she was running late?”
The problem with this type of job is that unfortunately a lot of the managers were barely out of nappies themselves. One of them was tricked in to giving Jim my home phone number. Things went down hill, more harassment. Phone calls, following and weirdo stalky behaviour.
I kept insisting leave me alone, go away. Then a female relative started talking about this lovely single man and alarm bells were going in my head. He met her in a pub/club I used to go to.
Oh no, Jim was bedding her! I warned her, said he has a wife and kids and that he has been stalking me. That he was doing this as a way to be close to me, as this relative looked very like me.
She said I was just jealous and being a drama queen. Jim was a frighteningly good actor, and could be a charmer but he was quite frankly insane. She fell for it, but I didn’t.
I’m glad I was so young I felt pity towards him for being such a loser and slight fear, rather than realising the potential danger I was actually in. The beauty of being a lodger, I moved! I gave all the managers at work a lecture on safety and never giving out people’s personal details, and changed my shift patterns. A few threats of police, and him falling out with my relative and he finally just stopped stalking and harassing me.
I was lucky really. But honestly stalkers are not just for the rich, successful or famous folk.
Jim never hurt me, or tried to physically force himself on me, BUT it did effect me. Things like this make you suspicious of friendly strangers, and I still will not get in a cab or be the only passenger on a bus. It hits you, right in the ability to trust.