Now that the days have gotten short, my late-day walks keep happening in the dark. Though I’m only out for twenty minutes and only on my own cul-de-sac, somehow those jaunts have stopped feeling perfectly safe.
To see where I’m going and also to ward off speeding drivers, kidnappers, and coyotes, I carry a small flashlight, which I wave in circles. Still, it occurred to me recently that I ought to have some kind of reflective vest to make more of me visible. With that, I sent out a Christmas Wish List, and the resulting gift far exceeded anything I could have imagined.
Christmas day, my son Chris and wife Betty-Jo, could hardly contain themselves as I ripped open the package. Inside was a light-weight, vivid orange vest, which prompted one of the eleven-year-olds to comment, “Oh . . . you’re gonna be a crossing guard!”
But no crossing guard ever wore anything like this. Once the thing was velcroed into place, Chris reached to my waist and pressed a button. Immediately I lit up. Up and down my chest–one row down from each shoulder—ran a string of bright red lights. Chris pressed the button again. With that, the lights began pulsing, going on and off in some kind of mysterious rhythm. Though I couldn’t see them, two similar rows flickered up and down my back.
Again one of the kids commented. “Grandma, you’re begging someone to come steal you!” Well, that was one viewpoint.
Two days later, I couldn’t resist giving the vest a try. But we’d lingered late at Chris’, so by the time I actually went walking it was past 9:30. But hey, I was “lit up,” so surely no harm lay in wait. Augmented by my waving flashlight, I did two laps. The only noticeable change was a lightly-pulsating stop sign at the top end of our street. Fascinated, I stood and watched. I’d never before seen that sign doing anything. Which is when I realized it wasn’t the sign flashing, it was ME!
The next day my neighbor called. “Late last night, two very thin men were walking down the street,” she said. “I looked at the clock, it was nearly ten. They stopped at your driveway and turned off their flashlight. I was afraid you might get hurt. I said to my husband, ‘I’m calling the cops,’ but he talked me out of it. I’m just checking to see if you’re okay.”
“Yeah, we’re okay.” For a second I was baffled. Two thin men? Stopping at our driveway? Ready to attack?
Suddenly the scenario became clear. “That was me!” I said.
“I’ve got this vest. It lights up.”
“But it was so late!” she said. “And I saw TWO guys. Both very skinny.”
“I left around 9:40,” I said. “And the vest has two sets of vertical lights—one on each side of my chest. And I did turn off the flashlight at our driveway.”
“Really!” she said. “I’m so relieved.”
For some reason, neither of us laughed.
But that was then. Within minutes, I reported back to Chris, and hilarity ensued.
Later I thought, If my new vest turns me into two people, so much the better! Safety in numbers, and all that.