My mom and I spent the Christmas of 2005 and New Year’s of 2006 in Virginia to visit my dad as he had just moved to this state a few months prior for new job. My mom and I were to permanently join him after my high school graduation in June so spending Christmas and New Year’s was our first time in Virginia. We only had access to my dad’s truck on that trip which he took to the Metro in order to go to work during the weekdays. Since he had just started the job he wasn’t able to take much time off during our visit, and therefore my mom and I were left to our own devices a good amount of the time.
My dad had rented the apartment he was staying in, and thus we were staying in during the visit, strictly by viewing photos online. They say a picture is worth 1000 words. However, each of those words can be a lie – as I found out for myself years later when I was conducting my own apartment search to move out. Unfortunately in 2005, my dad was hoodwinked by Photoshopped images of the apartment complex he first chose when moving to the state. What I’m trying to politely say is my dad had unknowingly moved into a neighborhood that was pretty sketch – to put it mildly.
I recognized the neighborhood for what it was when my mom and I first arrived after my dad picked us up from the airport and drove us back to the apartment. It was clear the neighborhood was a little shady but since I assumed my mom and I would likely never go outside or make trips by ourselves, I kept my observations to myself.
One day during our trip my mother and I got in an argument about who the hell knows what. I honestly cannot remember but there’s a good chance that she was annoyed at me for “talking back” to her. I put this term in quotes because in in the Filipino culture talking back encompasses anything and everything a child might say to the parent after their parent has been scolding them. Even if the child is saying “that is not what I said” or answering a question with a yes or no, this is considered talking back. So pretty much if you are being scolded by a Filipino parent you are to keep your mouth shut. I’m not saying that perhaps I didn’t have some kind of attitude during this argument, I was 17 years old so there is a very good possibility of this, but most likely my mom was scolding me and I had opened my mouth. She perceived this as talking back to her which is a huge, and disrespectful no-no in the Filipino culture and thus further ignited her temper.
Then my mom tells me she is going to walk to Giant. This is a grocery store that was approximately a 5 to 10 minute walk from the apartments. Although it was light out I insisted she let me go with her. I told her to let me take a quick shower and I would accompany her on the walk to Giant. However, since I had just pissed her off a few moments beforehand she immediately shut down the offer and told me she did not want me to go with her. I kept insisting I needed to go with her but she snapped back that she did not need me and she could walk to the store by herself. By this time I was annoyed with her attitude so I said fine go ahead.
So there goes my little mother trotting down the sidewalk to Giant when a big, white Cadillac truck pulled up next to her. The African-American male driver rolled down his the passenger-side window and asked my mother, “Excuse me, Miss, can you please tell me how to get to this address?”
My mom quickly replied she was not familiar with this area because she was not from the area and that she was from Seattle, Washington. After giving this answer she continued walking towards the store. As my mom continues her journey towards the store, the driver continues to slowly roll his car alongside her and repeatedly asked her for directions. My mom replied and repeated that she was not from this area therefore she had no idea how to get to the address he was looking for nor did she have any idea where he should start.
As the driver continued to follow my mom she began walking faster towards the store. This man was beginning to make her feel very nervous and uncomfortable. The man abruptly sped up and pulled off to the side of the road as to get his truck even closer to my mom. When she went to pass by his open passenger-side window he called out, “Hey, do you want to make some money?”
“What?!” my mom screeched. She flipped out and started running “like the wind” (as she puts it) to Giant without looking back at the driver again. She hurried inside the store and immediately called my dad. She was shaking as she told him that some man was following her and asking her if she wanted to make some money. My mom then asked my dad how she should get home for which he had no good answer since he was stuck at work several miles away. She asked other customers if they saw anyone following her. They replied they did not see anyone but that perhaps she should call the cops. She did not end up calling the cops but she did follow a group of people who were also walking from Giant towards the direction of our apartment. That is how she got home. By using random strangers as a shield to hide herself.
By the time my mom had returned to the apartment I had already finished with my shower and was waiting for her. I could tell she was extremely flustered and she was still shaking so I asked her what had happened. She frenziedly relayed the entire story to me.
And I laughed.
Granted, in hindsight, this was likely not an appropriate reaction or the reaction my mother needed at that time when she was still experiencing a great amount of fear from the encounter. So with the adrenaline pumping from fear and my poor reaction to her story, she slapped me in the face.
Relax! It was more of a tap and it’s not like my mother or father beat me, but my reaction was inappropriate and unsupportive during the time when she was still flying high from all the adrenaline and fear. So I really don’t hold her reaction to mine against her or see it in any negative light. Frankly, I probably deserved it.
However, I was still shocked that she slapped me and immediately snapped, “What the heck did you do that for? I didn’t do anything!” She told me I was being rude for laughing at her story because she had been truly afraid. I was still annoyed that she had slapped me and said “Well that’s what you get for not listening to me. I told you how many times to let me go with you!”
This was also not ideal response to her at the time because it just made her more upset. After a few seconds I calmed down (I tend to let go of annoyances and anger fairly quickly), apologized to her and gave her a hug. I softened my voice and gently suggested that perhaps next time or any time we need or want to go out of the apartment that we should go together. She pulled back, giving me a slightly incredulous look and stated, “No shit.”
So that’s it. My mom almost got picked up for either prostitution or to sell drugs – both situations would’ve been terrifying and horrendous. I am definitely not making light or putting any kind of humor on people who are swept into these heinous situations, against their will or not. I am just recounting the story of a ridiculous situation my mother went through because she got pissed at me, became very stubborn, and refused my help or to even listen to me. I often hung around a certain type of crowd through my teens and early 20’s so I felt as if I could have possibly helped us avoid this situation – had I been there. Or perhaps my cerebral palsy would have been a deterrent or turned him off. There are instances when CP can be a bit beneficial.
Luckily no harm was done. And she definitely started accepting my help and listening to me a bit more after that day. When the apartment lease was up my dad severely overcompensated by moving into a luxuriously overpriced apartment. But the area was safe and we often walked places by ourselves.
Until next time.
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