My sister came down on Friday to stay the night so we could go kayaking and bike riding on Saturday. After going out to dinner we headed to Walmart to find her a bike (she wanted to buy a cheap bike to keep at my house to use when she comes down to visit.) It was around 9:30 pm when we pulled up to Walmart and all the bikes were set out near the garden center pretty far away from the main entrance. We took our time as she sat on a few to find the right size. After picking out the perfect one, she went inside to pay while I went to pull the car up.
We loaded the bike in and then looked for something to tie the trunk down with. After trying a long, thin cloth purse she had in the car to no avail, my sister headed back inside to ask for string while I stayed looking for a way to make it work. They didn't have string so they gave her several plastic bags to tie together. We spent more time tying them together and then we took the plastic rope and attempted to tie the trunk closed. It was dark outside and due to the late hour there wasn't anyone around.
The first car that pulled right up next to us was a taxi driver with several men inside, (all of them were different nationalities) They all leaned up to the window to look at us. The driver rolled down the passenger window and said, "It's a crime for women to be as beautiful as both of you." Neither one of us said a word. There was a weird silence as they all continued to peer out the windows at us. The taxi driver finally said, "K, thanks," and slowly pulled away. "Wow! That was really weird...only at Walmart," I said. Little did I know that there was more in store for us.
We were crouched down continuing to try and make it work. Our car was parked close to the curb & parallel to the street. All of a sudden a white ("molester type") van pulled up vertically right behind us. A gray bearded, sketchy looking white man said, "I've been watching you for a while," in a low, creepy tone. Then went on, "Would you like to borrow a bungy cord, it's on the other side of my van." We both were startled and a little nervous because we realized he had boxed us in between the two cars. We replied in unison, "No, we're fine." He persisted and said, "Your trunk is going to bounce while you drive and that's not good. Just come around the other side and get it." I said, 'NO, we're fine."
He slowly backed up as I looked at my sister and said, "Let's go NOW. I don't care if it bounces up we have to get out of here!" We jumped in the car and as we started to drive he began following us. I floored it and squeezed in between two tanker trucks as the light changed red and stopped us. I quickly turned down the street because I knew he was stuck behind the last truck and probably couldn't see us turn. I sped up again and squeezed in between two cars to hide in case he turned after us. Luckily we lost him but we kept looking nervously behind us. I was prepared to drive him straight to the police department.
I feel pretty thankful that things turned out okay. After thinking about it, I realized that he and/or several guys could've jumped out of the car with a gun or knife at any point and tried to force us in the van, or gotten me when I was out there all alone for a while. I wondered at the coincidence of the first group of glaring men in the taxi and then the van driver quickly after. Were we being scoped out at close range before the van came in for the pick up? I don't know if the two were connected or if my writer's imagination just clumped the weirdness together, but all I know is we were VERY scared!
California is a top area for human trafficking with the close proximity to the Mexican boarder and all of the local ports. Human trafficking is also one of the fastest growing lucrative crimes with statistics estimating $32 billion per year. UN recently released updated figures which showed the problem is growing worse "The only other crime that brings in more money is drug trafficking. To solve the problem, the UN is calling on governments to prioritize human trafficking cases and to target not just the pimps and sweatshops, but also the people who recruit, smuggle, and sell other people. The average cost for a human slave is $90.00 USD."
I just wanted to share what happened with everyone and tell you to be careful out there & pay attention to your surroundings! Please remember, human trafficking is not only happening in other countries...it's happening right in your city/state too. It is definitely more common for them to take younger girls or boys but they do not discriminate if they think you will fit nicely as a "package" they may need to deliver. Keep your guard up...you never know who is watching you!
**Be sure to look for "Prop 35" on this years ballot which would increase penalties for human traffickers.