by Christie Farley
Recently, I was asked to share about a time when I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I let the archives of clips play across my brain screen. Several people around me were able to think of a quick story, some humorous, others were poor choices that resulted in dangerous moments. I had several of my life experiences flip through my mind like flipping through a picture book. And then I remembered a time. I was most certainly in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I was on a date with my boyfriend when I was 16. His car was functional to get from point A to point B, but one of the quirks is that his driver side window was no longer attached to the winding handle. It could not be rolled up or down. When he wanted it down, he used the palms of his hands and force to slide it down, leaving an inch out. The inch allow him to then pinch the window panel between his fingers and yank it straight up when it was time for it to be closed. (If you thought that manual rollers were archaic, the palm-slide and pinch-pull method was as manual as it got!)
As we departed the restaurant after dinner, we were laughing and lost in the youth of the moment. I hopped up on the outdoor bench and he piggy-back carried me to the car as we mindlessly engaged in our carefree evening. Once at the car, we climbed in. Given it was a humid and relentlessly hot evening, he palm-slid his window down. He pushed the clutch in, turned the engine over, and put the car in reverse.
“Wonder what this guy wants?”
At this moment, we both saw a guy lockstep strut toward our car from two aisles over. He weaved toward us as he walked away from a group of guys, four or five of them, late teens to early twenties. We stopped laughing. We stopped talking. My boyfriend said under his breath, “Wonder what this guy wants?”
The man slowed as he reached the front left headlight and approached in what felt like slow motion. He asked, “Hey man, have a light?” In my 16-year-old naivety, I thought, Oh, we’re good kids, we don’t do that. I thought my boyfriend would say no, the stranger would say OK, and that would be that.
That was not what happened.
A place of fear
As the stranger got to the window, my slow motion view ramped up to hyper speed, like a stopped roller coaster being catapulted from the loading station: The man whipped out a switchblade. Clink went the blade into position. Then he doubled over inside the driver side of the car, attempting to harm with vengeance.
In the exact same moment my black belt trained boyfriend twisted six ways, like a gold medal high diver, and deflected every attempt of that knife from making contact. I reacted with an instantaneous curl of my body into a ball in the passenger seat and screamed from a place of fear I had not known existed.
At second 4, my boyfriend twisted the man’s arm, and the stranger let out a gutteral groan. My boyfriend immediately popped the clutch, which made the car lurch backwards four feet out of park, and the car stalled. In a controlled and even tone, he looked at me and said, “Please stop screaming so I can think.” To this day, I have never seen a matching level of calm given the circumstances. (To be fair, I’ve not been in this circumstance since.)
“Please stop screaming so I can think.”
The lurch of the car had caused the man to fall onto the ground, but he was scrambling to get up. My boyfriend pressed the clutch again, turned over the engine, and drove out of that parking lot like an ignited dynamite stick.
The situation ended by us driving all over town for 30 minutes, making sure we were not being followed. Should we go to the fire department? should we go to the police department? We didn’t know. In these days before cell phones, we didn’t want to go back to that parking lot to call someone from the restaurant.
After being assured we were not being followed, we drove back to my house. My dad called the police, we gave a statement over the phone, and were told if we saw the guy again to let them know. It was so anticlimactic for the insanity of what had occurred. Small town reaction to an event that did not result in a newspaper worthy headline.
So, were we in the wrong place at the wrong time? Not by intent. Were we spared what I can only imagine would have been an awful ending if the skill sets and quick thinking were not applied? Absolutely.
This Wild & Precious Life
I have tried most of my life to put this behind me or to not think about it at all. I can say that I hate parking lots and parking garages, but that is not particularly abnormal.
When I had a daughter of my own, I remember how I loaded her into the car as a baby: I would get to the car in the parking lot and climb in the whole backseat, lock the doors, and then make sure her seat was locked in properly. I would not open the back seat and lean over with my back exposed to the parking lot.
But now when this experience comes to mind, I find myself in a smile. Why? All I can do is I thank Jesus for sparing us from what could have otherwise been a tragedy of proportions I can’t comprehend.
I also talk to God about what He wants to do with this wild and precious life He has given me. These conversations with the Lord are on-ramps to some of the greatest adventures of my life. God has called me to serve overseas and to serve in local ministries. He has called me to ignite a faith in others by sharing who He is.
People often ask me how I have the courage to say the things I say and do the things I do in my life. I tell them that God has a way of using all things for good. All things. Even the moments where we find ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Meet the Author:
Christie Farley lives in Southern California with her husband, Blair, daughter, Sally, cat, Tommy, and dog, Clarke. She enjoys reading, writing, serving, teaching, influencing, and partnering in kingdom work with her church, Journey of Faith. Often you will find her strolling along the Pacific Ocean (because this side of Heaven, the ocean is heaven) or finding a new place to enjoy a cup of coffee.
posted on March 31, 2019
Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash