Angel at the train station.
In 1986 I was 23, single, living at home in Westchester County NY and working in NYC. I took the commuter train, Metro-North, in to the city from the Golden's Bridge station everyday. Sometimes I would commute in with my Dad, but I had later start time and end time hours than he did so I was often commuting alone. It wasn't uncommon for me to take the last train out of Grand Central at night, the 11:15pm.
The commuter parking lot at the Golden's Bridge station wasn't big enough. And if you weren't a first thing in the morning commuter, the parking spots would be full by 8am and you were left to park on the side of the rural highway outside the parking lot. This meant a 10 minute walk to the platform - more if you happened to be very late and had to park at the end of the line outside the lot. This is where I frequently had to park my little jeep.
There was this odd guy I used to see on the platform in the morning sometimes. He was a few years older than me and seemed to always be wearing the same dark brown, wool, 3-piece suit. He wore this even in the summer months. He had messy dirty blonde hair, was tallish and kind of scrawny. Seemed socially awkward, was often looking down at the ground. I never talked to him until this one day -- I was on the 5pm out of Grand Central and got off at Golden's Bridge with the mass of other commuters. Odd guy caught up with me as I was walking down the platform stairs. There were a lot of people around and I was comfortable enough having a light, superficial chat with him about the lousy parking conditions. Turned out he was parked on the street outside the parking lot too, just behind my jeep in fact, so we walked together all the way to my car, exchanging first names and general pleasantries. But, when we got to my car, he actually leaned in to kiss me on the mouth, as though we'd just had a date -- I pulled back, giggled nervously and stuck out my hand to shake his while saying something like 'it's nice to meet you'. He got really angry by this, muttered something I couldn't hear and stomped off pretty pissed off.
This experience pretty much freaked me out and afterward I was more keenly aware of my surroundings and I avoided running in to him as much as I could. But I did have to pass right by him getting on or off a train several times in the weeks that followed - and when I did, he muttered expletives as I went by, things like "***king whore". This confirmed to me that he was crazy. I was weary of him, told my parents about this but thought I could handle it.
One weekday night I was getting on the last train leaving Grand Central Station when I noticed him through the window of the train car next to the one I was about to get on. I didn't think he saw me in the crowd so I moved to the farthest car away from his and hunkered down for the ride to Golden's Bridge. These were the days before cell phones so I couldn't easily tell anyone what was happening. I thought I was being really clever by waiting until he got off the train and up the stairs before I exited the train behind the crowd. I also thought I was being smart to wait on the dark train platform until he had gotten to his car and left before I ventured out to get mine -- which was parked on the road again outside the parking lot.
I called my mother from the pay phone on the platform to let her know what I was doing and what was happening. She wanted to come and get me but I really thought I had outsmarted him and had the situation under control. I waited for about another 20 minutes before I started my walk down the platform stairs to my car. By then, every other commuter who had gotten off at Golden's Bridge was long gone. It was the last train of the night, was about 12:30am on a weekday and no one at all was around, anywhere. I felt perfectly safe though walking through the lot, and I was proud of myself for having stayed calm and for being so smart.
The exit ramp from the train station parking lot to the rural highway was a steep hill and as I walked to the top of it, my smugness turned quickly to terror as I saw Odd Guy sitting in his parked car just at the top of the hill, car running, lights on, waiting for me. He rolled down his window, and trying to sound casual and friendly he said, 'hey Colette, let me give you a ride to your car." My heart was in my shoes. I was completely vulnerable. There was not a soul on the road. This was not a well traveled road at all. Very woodsy area, no businesses or homes anywhere nearby. I was all alone in the dark with this unstable guy who was focused on me.
I nervously said something like, 'no thanks, that's ok'.
I saw that crazy, angry look flash on his face and I knew I was in deep trouble. This guy was absolutely going to hurt me. It was all over him. He slammed his foot on his gas pedal and rode up right next to me. I kept walking, shoulders hunched up by my ears now and I was still a good 200 years away from my jeep. I had no idea how I was going to get out of this and he was getting more agitated, yelling something at me now.
Headlights appeared out of the blackness from behind his car. I didn't think to wave the car down. I don't know why in retrospect but it turned out I didn't have to. This car stopped behind his, the driver, a woman in her 40's, rolled down her window and said to me "is he bothering you?" I said "yes" and she said "get in". Creepy guy peeled away, tires screeching with a look on his face like he couldn't believe this intervention had happened, just when he was so close. I couldn't believe it either. I got in her car and nervously told her my whole story of every encounter with him. She told me she was a local police officer's wife and that there had been a number of rape/murders in the area recently and that was why she was so tuned in to what she saw when she drove up to me.
She drove me around for about 15 minutes while I talked incessantly. Then she dropped me off at my jeep, waited until I got in and followed me in her car for a little bit before driving off.
I never saw her or spoke to her again. I was never able to confirm that she was the wife of a local police officer and I was also never able to find any information about any rape/murders in the Golden's Bridge, NY area in the mid-late 80's. When I called the Golden's Bridge police station to report what had happened to me, they kept putting me on hold and treated me like I was an annoyance. I took the train in from a different station, with my Dad right after that but in a few weeks time I got a job outside the city and stopped having to commute on Metro North.
Every time I tell this story I get the chills and the hair stands up on my arms. I am sure the woman in the compact car was a guardian angel.
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