A stranger tried to pick me up from school by telling me my parents were in the hospital

M. Brown

Photo byPhoto by Joseph Chan on Unsplash

**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events that I have experienced firsthand; used with permission.

I remember that day, standing outside of my elementary school waiting for my mom to pick me up. I was the last one there. There was no sign of either of my parents. This was highly unusual. My mom was always there to pick me up every day without fail.

I was just about to go to the principal's office to tell them that no one had arrived to pick me up when I saw a red car turning into the parking lot. I didn't recognize it but it drove straight toward me as I stood in my school uniform by the curb.

The driver rolled down the passenger side window and it was a man I didn't recognize.

"Hi, your dad's been in an accident so your mom sent me to pick you up and take you to the hospital. The man introduced himself, giving me his name and letting me know he was an old friend of my mom and dad.

I was stunned. At only 9, I was having trouble processing this information. All I knew was that this person was a stranger and I was told never to get into a car with a stranger no matter what they said. This had been burned into my brain throughout my entire childhood. Even though it was the 80s, and 'helicopter parenting' wasn't even a thing yet, many of us kids were still lectured about stranger danger by our parents.

So, I refused to get into the car. Absolutely refused. The man continued to give me evidence of how he knew my parents, even trying to give me specific details about myself that only my parents could have told him.

Nope. I would not get in the car. I could tell he was getting a bit frustrated now. I turned around and headed away from the car and over to the school principal's office. Luckily, the principal was still there. I informed her that my parents had not shown up and that there was a strange man whom I did not know trying to get me into his car. She immediately attempted to call my parents.

Back then, the only phones we had were landline phones, meaning they were plugged into the wall and you could not take them with you. This meant that if someone was not home or didn't answer the phone for some reason, you were out of luck. Many people back then didn't even have an answering machine. That was a relatively new technology as well, and not everyone had it.

Therefore, when no one answered the phone after a multitude of rings, the school principal had no idea what was going on. She then escorted me outside and walked up to the red car with the man inside. I felt relief. Having an adult with me would probably save me from being kidnapped.

However, it turned out that things wouldn't be that dramatic. The principal simply spoke to the man, got the information about what hospital he claimed my parents were at, called that hospital, and got my mom on the phone.

It was true. My dad had crashed on his motorcycle and had to be rushed to the hospital. He was stable but my mom was there by his side and had asked their friend to come and pick me up. She had forgotten to inform the school because she had been so frazzled and, quite frankly, the school pick-up back then wasn't like it is today. Kids weren't exactly monitored as to what adults came to get them or what vehicle they were getting into as they are today.

Once the identity of the man was confirmed and my mom had been spoken to, I agreed to get in the car and go to the hospital. I was a little embarrassed but I also felt good about my decision to be overly cautious. I think that despite her frustration with my stubbornness, my mom was ultimately glad for it too.

In the end, my dad was okay and, thankfully, I wasn't kidnapped.


I never wanted to marry my second husband because he wasn't my type

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Host of The Pondering Stepmom Podcast. Writing about relationships, lifestyle, family & self-improvement.

California State

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