We were up early for the flight. It was complicated figuring out how to do get me to the airport, then Joe back to park the car and then on the shuttle back to meet me where I would be waiting. The complication was of course, timing. So we were up at silly o’clock and down in the lobby leaving shortly thereafter. Joe loaded the car as I was pushing over to it.

It was dark.

It was early morning.

There was no one around.

I didn’t feel particularly unsafe because it’s a hotel parking lot, and we were in disabled parking, near the door. Joe passed me on his way back with the cart and I was pulling up beside the car. It was a slight incline and the pavement was rough so it took a bit of strength to get up to the passenger side door.

Just before I got there, I felt a shadow fall over me, cast by the streetlight a ways away. I knew it wasn’t Joe, I turned to see a man approaching me, his hands out as if to grab …

… now in other circumstances I would have immediately thought that he was going to grab the handles on the back of the chair to “assist me” but it was early, it was dark, it was deserted.

I panicked.

I didn’t scream but I startled away from him, throwing myself hard and wrenching my back in the process. He saw me do this and then realized what was going on in my head and he said, “I was just going to help you.” He seemed angry now and paused. I just stared at him. He turned and stomped away.

He scared me.

Really scared me.

He reminded me of how vulnerable I am.

Yes it was early and dark and deserted but I have a right to feel safe when it’s early and it’s dark and it’s deserted. He had no right to intrude upon me in any way. I was pushing myself. I was alone. It was clear that if I’d needed help I would have had it with me.

Joe came back and saw the fellow walking angrily away from the car.

“Oh, no,” he said.

“Indeed,” I said.

It took me until we landed to tell him what had happened. I’d been sorely shaken and I was left physically sore from the encounter.

Mr. “Just trying to help” acted as if I’d hurt his feelings, he’ll never know the damage he did to me and I suspect he wouldn’t get it.