The insanity magnet

By BEN R. WILLIAMS

People sometimes ask me, “Ben, why does so much crazy stuff happen to you?”

The answer: I have no idea. My whole life, I’ve been a magnet for the unstable, a focal point for anyone with a loose grip on reality and an axe to grind. Maybe it’s punishment for some horrible sins I committed in a previous life shortly before my execution following the Nuremberg Trials. It’s a mystery to me.

What I can say in complete honesty is that every column I’ve ever written has been a recounting of a true story based on my best recollection of the event.

Including this one.

On Thursday, July 23, I stopped at a store in Henry County. I won’t name the store, but it’s the only store in town where you can buy groceries, a can of paint, and a rifle in the same shopping trip.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I got a phone call from my friend Zach. I eased into a parking spot and answered the phone.

At the exact same moment that I pulled into the parking spot, a white minivan pulled into the spot right across from me, our vehicles nose-to-nose. I didn’t think anything of it — why would I? — but I did notice that the man and the woman in the car suddenly became really animated. I assumed this had nothing to do with me.

As I talked to Zach, I watched the car reverse out of the parking spot and speed off. Aha, I thought to myself; they were trying to pull through the two empty spots and turn around, and I inadvertently spoiled their plans.

But then, a minute or so later, I saw a white minivan in my rearview mirror. It lingered there for a little while, blocking me in, and then sped off again.

And then they pulled up right in front of me a second time, our vehicles again nose-to-nose, and the woman emerged from the car, pointing and yelling at me as she approached.

“I have to go, Zach,” I said, “someone’s screaming at me.”

(Note: This is not a good way to end a phone call.)

Now here’s the thing: let’s say you’re at a bar and you accidentally bump into a lady and spill her drink. The next thing you know, some big burly guy is approaching you angrily. That’s scary, but you can assume he’s the boyfriend of the lady you bumped into. You know why he’s there. You can explain it was an accident. You can apologize.

When someone is approaching you angrily and you have absolutely no idea why, that is not scary; that is TERRIFYING. You do not have a mental handbook on how to evade this situation. You are flying blind.

The woman stopped about ten feet from my car, and I rolled my window down halfway so I could understand what she was screaming.

And this is what I heard:

“ARE YOU A BOUNTY HUNTER?!?”

Now listen folks, I didn’t know what was coming, but that was still somehow the absolute last thing I expected.

“No,” I said.

This did not placate the woman. She continued screaming at me. She said that she was just there to shop for her kids, and I was a bounty hunter, and she could tell because I was wearing a hat, I was driving a bounty hunter car, and I had a bounty hunter license plate.

“I’m not a bounty hunter,” I reiterated.

She continued yelling at me, so I carefully explained the situation to her: I restated that I was not a bounty hunter but merely a shopper like herself, yet given her volatility and clear mental instability, I would not be shopping at this particular location.

I explained all these things to her at a volume of about 120 decibels, and to my credit, I only used a single expletive. It was one of the bad ones, but still!

I then left the parking lot because I just got new tires and I didn’t want them to get slashed. I also called Zach to let him know I hadn’t just been murdered.

As I drove to a different grocery store across town and my adrenaline began to subside, I thought about the woman’s argument and a series of questions began to form in my mind.

  1. Are bounty hunters particularly known for wearing hats? The only famous contemporary bounty hunter I can think of is Dog the Bounty Hunter, and a hat would’ve interfered with his glorious mullet.
  2. Are bounty hunters known for driving Toyota SUVs? When I think of a bounty hunter’s car, I imagine a gray ’86 Ford Crown Vic, maybe an ’80 Buick LeSabre.
  3. Are bounty hunters known for having personalized plates? Because that seems like a bad idea if you’re trying to keep a low profile.
  4. Just how many warrants do you need to have for you to see a car park across from you and immediately assume it’s a bounty hunter come to smuggle you away?

Anyway, while I’m not affiliated with the police in any way, I have no problem encouraging our local law enforcement to keep an eye peeled for a white GM minivan from the late 1990s driven by a woman with crazy eyes. She’s clearly up to SOMETHING.

Of course, a real bounty hunter probably would have caught the plate number, but you can’t win ‘em all.

 

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