I spied an El Camino on my drive into work today that immediately flooded back one specific memory from my childhood: my sister and I were nearly kidnapped. Isn't it funny how that happens?
The bus dropped us off at the end of a dirt road that would get us home quicker than riding the bus all along its route and back into our neighborhood - something we opted for daily. Many memories of mine involve that road with finding cool stuff (read: crap) in the ditch, racing to beat the rain and general goofing off.
My memories of exactly what happened are a bit sketchy and I'm not even sure how old I was at the time - but I had to have been between 6 and 9 years old.
My sister and I got off the bus and started walking down the road, same as always only this time a giant-at-the-time conversion van pulled up and the passenger started talking to us. He offered us a ride and the driver climbed through the back and opened up the side door, also offering us a ride. I distinctly remember feeling like this was weird but that whatever my older sister would do, I would do the same. She told them our house was close and they told us they knew that already and that they just wanted to give us a ride home.
We're about 2 seconds from climbing up into the van when I turn back and see my dad's El Camino barrelling down the dirt road and I yelled at Jen that it was him. In the time it took me to turn back toward the van, doors were closed and it was speeding off.
My dad jammed his brakes and yelled at us to get in the back, something I remember doing very vividly without any thought other than how much his voice was scaring me. Jen gave me that look and we climbed in, sat down and stared at each other wide-eyed, not really sure what was going on. I don't remember much after that.
Later conversations with my parents and sister have provided a few more details that leave me shaken and shaking my head in disbelief that it even happened.
We were nearly kidnapped a mere 2 blocks from our home. My dad got off work early that day for some reason. AND? He rarely drives on dirt roads but thought he might catch us walking home that day. Imagine his shock when he sees his two very young daughters about to climb in a stranger's van.
After dropping us off at the house, my mom said he drove around for some time looking for that van but never found it.
I can only imagine what he would've done if he had found it. Or them.
I doubt I said it then: Thanks, Dad.