May 28, 2009


I did something wrong last night.

I caught a late show with my cousin. 'Fired Up' - don't waste you money or time, it was pathetic and offensive and immature and stupid. But that's not the worst part of the night.

We live in the farmland turned suburbs. The major street that leads out to our houses hasn't kept up with the growth. It doesn't have street lights or sidewalks. (At least they put in more stoplights so people would quit smashing their cars together.)

That's why we knew she was in trouble when we saw her.

Walking erratically on the side of this inadequate street was a barefoot and deeply impaired teenage girl. We were instantly worried. People speed down this street regularly, and the girl was hard to see in the dark. Not to mention this was a wednesday night at 11:30 - which seemed an odd time for someone so young to be wandering the streets in this condition (school isn't even out for summer yet.)

I was driving so I handed my cell phone to my cousin and she called 911. We weren't sure what to do. But we wanted to make sure she was safe, so I turned the car around to pass her again.

That's when we saw her stumbling into the street.

We couldn't wait for the police to help her, she was in too much danger. But we weren't sure what to do, so I pulled the car over and let her in.

I drove her about two blocks and she told me to turn into a street full of houses. She had realized that my cousin was talking to a dispatcher, and the girl wasn't too impaired to know that she didn't want police around. Even though I'm fairly certain she had no idea where she was, she practically jumped out of the car before I could stop.

We didn't know what to do.

The dispatcher was absolutely no help.

We parked the car and watched this young girl run away. Shoeless. Lost. Under the influence of alcohol and something else (who knows what.)

She swore her house was close. Did she even know?

The street she ran down ends at a very large and full canal. What if she was impaired enough to think she could cross it? What if someone else picks her up that isn't worried about her best interest? What if she climbs into some stranger's backyard and gets mauled by a dog? What if the combination of things she had put into her body react strongly enough to put her into a coma?

Awhile after my cousin and I got home the police called and said they looked, but couldn't find her.

I keep replaying the situation over in my head - except that I give it new endings. Better endings. Where I see her walk through the door of her home. With her parents coming out and asking what happened. Knowing that we left her safe.

Except it didn't end like that.

Was calling the police wrong? It scared her and made her run.

Was picking her up a mistake in the first place? I knew it was somewhat dangerous for my cousin and I, she could have been violent. But we were more worried about her. But the police could have found her easily if she had stayed on the main road. If she didn't get hit by a car first.

Tell me - what should I have done?

That was someone's daughter, and I just let her leave.

It was wrong.


LisAway said...

Oh man, Melissa. That's a hard one. It sounds like you did what you felt was best, and there's not much more you could have done. Please don't feel bad about it. I think it's awesome that you even tried to help her. I think you handled it very well. I'm just sorry she couldn't tell you a safe place for you to take her. I'm sure she's fine. But that is one of those experiences that stay with you, eh?

Emmy said...

That is a very hard one. Scary. My husband and I saw a guy beating up a girl one time in Provo. We pulled over, and well I was mad and not thinking, and jumped right out of the car and started yelling for him to get away from her. Luckily it turned out "okay". She ran and got in our car and he went the other way. She was pregnant and it was her boyfriend beating her up. We drove her to her house, she said her brother-in-law was a cop and he would take care of it. We didn't believe her of course. On our way home a police officer happened to be driving by so we flagged him down and brought him back to the house we dropped her off at. He said she wasn't going to file any reports though.
I hope things turned out for her... that would be so scary and hard. You can't force people though and you did try, more than most would do. Sorry.

Barbaloot said...

Wow--I would've for sure called the police. I hope she ends up being okay! I think you did the right thing---I mean, hopefully the police could have helped her---and it's not likely you could have done more for her than you did.

annie valentine said...

You didn't just leave her. Leaving her would have meant not turning around and running home as fast as you could.

You did absolutely the right thing, my friend. If nothing else, somewhere inside her she knew that someone was trying to help, even if she didn't want it. You probably saved her from getting hit by a car at least, if nothing else.

For what it's worth, I would have done the exact same thing, action for action.

Rachel Sue said...

You couldn't hold her in the car. You couldn't keep her against her will.

The only other thing you possibly could have done was keep following her in your car. But for all you know that would have spooked her more and she would have jumped in the canal. So really, you did everything you possibly could do. You got her off a dark road and into a neighborhood. You made sure someone was out there looking for her. Really, you did all you could.

JustRandi said...

I think you did the right thing. That's tough, though.
I really hope that if it were my daughter, at least someone would try to help her. I think that's all you can ask for.

Heather said...

Tamara told me about this. I think you did what you should have done. Past that, her decisions are her decisions.

Alison Wonderland said...

You stopped and picked her up so already you're way ahead of me. There was more that you COULD have done but nothing that you SHOULD have done.
It's easier said than done but you need to let it go.