Strange, Lost Old Man

Discussion in 'It Happened to Me!' started by WanderingFox, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. WanderingFox

    WanderingFox Fresh Blood

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    Two nights ago I had a most peculiar encounter, which I'm struggling to explain. It may well have a prosaic explanation, but I can't, as of yet, find one that fits. It happened like this...

    I left my friend’s house a little after 10pm to walk home. It’s a short journey along an L-shaped section of the sole road through the village, my house at the end of the long arm, as it were. Not long after I’d rounded the bend of the L, and descended the short slope beyond it, a car slowed down as it approached me from behind.

    It stopped just past me, opposite a house, making me believe it would turn in, but proceeded to do nothing, just sit silent and dark as I walked beyond it, no doors opening, no cabin lights turning on, no windows sliding down. I got about 15 yards further on when it moved again, rolling up alongside me.

    This time I directed my headlight toward it – I usually avoid that, for fear of dazzling the driver – and saw an elderly gentleman, silver-haired and tidy, gesturing for my attention. Why he didn’t lower the passenger window and call is the first of many oddities.

    I opened the door, and politely enquired if I could help. He told me he was lost, had been for a while, and wanted my help getting his bearings. I told him where he was – Bagstone – and mentioned other villages along the road to the north – Cromhall, Charfield, Wotton-Under-Edge, only the last of which gained any reaction, a comment about it “being too far” – and the south – our immediate neighbour Rangeworthy, and Iron Acton further on. His response to those was to ask a vague question about their direction, and then request I get in to his car and show him.

    That’s when confusion really set in for me – who would ask someone, a total stranger, to do that? What, exactly, did he mean? I did sit, to try and make conversation easier, noticing how smart and modern his car was, but kept the door open. I asked where he was going, more than once, and got no answer, beyond needing to get to the main road. Twice during this exchange he moved the car forward slightly, startling me enough to exclaim both times.

    By this point I was thoroughly confused and a little worried. His behaviour didn’t add up. His manner was pleasant and clear, he spoke well, but little I said registered, and the information he gave me was incredibly limited and vague. He didn’t seem confused or distressed. The best analogy I can give is a phone support operator with a thin script, who either ignore you, or pauses awkwardly, then just picks right back up with the same lines. He appeared unable to compute anything beyond a few simple details – lost, home, main road – which made it impossible to help him.

    In the end, I got out of the car, apologising, and he started to drive off without closing his door; thankfully he pulled away very steadily, or I wouldn’t have been able to. I then stood, and watched, confounded and, I’ll admit, distressed, as he rolled out of sight, into the darkness past my house, wondering about his strange behaviour and if I could have helped more, if there was something else I could have done.

    I can recall the last three letters of his registration, which I'll provide if requested, but have no idea as to the make or model of his car, beyond it being a hatchback, and of quality, and likely dark blue. It was notably quiet. A Golf, possibly? I can’t remember his face at all, except it being clean-shaven and maybe a little on the professorial side.

    My personal, tentative leaning is to him having suffered a small stroke, but my personal experiences of such things - two elderly relatives suffered strokes shortly before passing - don't tally with this gentleman's behaviour. I'm certainly not about to entertain the wilder suggestions my friend had, but it's difficult for me to properly explain this. I open this to your examination and discussion, and hope something concrete comes of it.
     
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  2. UnknownUnknown

    UnknownUnknown Devoted Cultist

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    Hello and welcome!
    Good clear account. You're a good writer!

    My own immediate suggestion would be a brain injury of some kind. I've seen the results of a very aggressive (and sadly fatal) brain tumour, and this reminded me of the early stages. The patient loses some information but other abilities are unimpaired. Depending on which brain areas are diseased I can imagine that someone could drive, and ask for directions, but be unable to appropriately process your replies. I'm glad you were kind to the gentleman, and hope he found wherever he was looking for.

    In Fortean terms this reminded me of a kind of inverse phantom hitchhiker!
     
  3. Mythopoeika

    Mythopoeika I am a meat popsicle

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    Yeah, it does sound like he was having some problems mentally. Perhaps the onset of dementia, and he was still driving?
     
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  4. escargot1

    escargot1 Beloved of Ra

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    I thought it was going to be about an attempted abduction!
     
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  5. Mythopoeika

    Mythopoeika I am a meat popsicle

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    It does have those hallmarks, yes. Best not to get into a stranger's car.
     
  6. AnonyJoolz

    AnonyJoolz Captainess Sensible

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    Without giving too much away, can you tell us about you? Are you young or older? If you `maybe look younger than you are, or are slightly built you may well have encountered someone up to no good (attempted abduction?).

    On the other hand, it could well be someone who has a brain condition/injury of some kind - not all 'dementias' are the same disease and people can appear quite well until you ask for information that is just not there any more. Recent information tends to be lost before long-learned behaviours. He may still 'know' how to drive but not where, any more. My Grandmother had to have her car keys taken by her family to stop her doing this!

    I'd think about reporting it to your local coppers, just to be on the safe side - either a dodgy geezer inviting unknown people into his car or a chap who may utterly unsafe on the road.
     
  7. The Adipose

    The Adipose Fresh Blood

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    Thanks for your well-written account.

    I've actually been asked to get into a car for giving directions before, by an elderly couple who were worried they wouldn't remember my directions. Maybe I shouldn't have, but being 50-odd years younger than them, and sturdily built, I felt, perhaps unwarrantedly so, safe. In any case, nothing untoward happened.

    Echoing AnonyJoolz, different dementias cause different odd behaviours. The 'thin script' reminds me of my poor aunt, whose dementia was caused by a series of small, unnoticed strokes. She'd be found wandering around the village on urgent errands, perfectly able to dress and groom and gossip, but when questioned about her destination, would just smile and babble over it. It wasn't until people realized that she was trying to find her childhood home, that they realized something was wrong.
     
  8. Timble2

    Timble2 Imaginary Person

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    It does sound as if he had some form of cognitive impairment. It might be worth letting the police know as there have been case of people setting off for a short drive, becoming disorientated and driving round for days, and reported as missing persons by their relatives.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
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  9. Naughty_Felid

    Naughty_Felid No longer interesting

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    I'm assuming the OP is a young male? I thought the old guy may have been attempting a pick up for a sexual encounter. This method of meeting up with strangers for sex would have been more common years ago when homosexuality was frowned upon and the driver was younger.

    He then bottled it.

    More transient sex fail than transient Ischaemic attack.
     
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  10. Ulalume

    Ulalume tart of darkness

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    I once heard a story that began much in the same way, though I can't remember now where I heard it. A young woman reported that an elderly man asked for directions, then asked her to get in the car to show him the way. He seemed very confused and somewhat helpless, so she did so, but soon he began to talk about taking her home to be his "new wife." He wouldn't stop the car to let her out so she had to jump, IIRC.

    The man in the OP could have been having a medical problem or perhaps there was something more sketchy behind it.
     
  11. henry

    henry still speeding

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    just sounded a bit lost & confused, despite op saying he didnt come across as confused, he was however unable to process ... nothing i read above suggests anything sinister or threatening ... not like he would be out cruising for gay trade in Bagstone, Cromhall, Charfield, Wotton-Under-Edge ...
     
  12. WanderingFox

    WanderingFox Fresh Blood

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    Thank you, all, for the replies. A lot of good thoughts, here! :)

    Some form of mental difficulty makes the most sense thus far. Certainly the closest fit for the facts, such as they are. If this truly is the explanation, I hope the fellow found better help than I was able to provide.

    I could have made it clearer in my account, but he was fully able to drive, albeit slowly. He appeared to be completely in control of his car. I admit getting in wasn't the brightest idea, in retrospect, and I certainly won't be doing it again. Thankfully, no abduction took place. The possibility did cross the back of my mind during the encounter, and hasn't entirely shifted since.

    I'm male, sliding into middle-age, but look younger, and am indeed quite slightly built. I also don't necessarily act my age, either. If his intent was a sexual encounter, he'd have been sorely disappointed, for a few reasons. Ulalume's story is unnerving, and makes me gladder I didn't close the door. That one little thing just might have made a big difference.

    All in all, though, cognitive impairment is the strongest likelihood, and I'll hope that any impression of ill intent was just healthy paranoia on my part.
     
  13. Naughty_Felid

    Naughty_Felid No longer interesting

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    why not? He could have been an opportunist. I'm not saying there is no cognitive decline, lesions causing hypersexualised behavior, for example, but it could have been why he attempted the pick up.
     
  14. henry

    henry still speeding

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    but he didnt make an overture ?
     
  15. Naughty_Felid

    Naughty_Felid No longer interesting

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    He panicked, could explain the vagueness and confusion as he thought "how do I get out of this?"
     
  16. Zeke Newbold

    Zeke Newbold Carbon based biped.

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    Yes, I'm afraid that this prosaic, and maybe cynical, explanation is the one that first came to my mind.

    It seems to me that he was trying to drop hints - the limited script thing -but that the OP was not picking up on them...so he eventually gave up.

    Luckily for the OP, and to the old guy's credit, he wanted it to be consensual and so nothing else happened.

    And I don't see why this sort of thing should be more rare in villages than elsewhere either. On the contrary, in fact.
     
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  17. henry

    henry still speeding

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    what hints ? lost on me too ... and doesnt sound like the kind of place thered be kerb crawlers, vs a city red light area ... but op would be able to clarify ...
     
  18. David Plankton

    David Plankton Justified & Ancient

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    So this thread isn't about Rynner then?
     
  19. henry

    henry still speeding

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  20. escargot1

    escargot1 Beloved of Ra

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    If this happened to me*, I'd report it to the police. Having the whole reg number would help of course.

    It's a weird thing to do - pulling over, getting a stranger to sit in the car, talking a load of rubbish - so I'd be telling t'filth and letting them decide what to do about it. If the had the car number they could visit the driver and weigh up what was going on with him.

    I'll also point out that few women would get into a stranger's car on a deserted road: just being asked to would ring alarm bells. Many women or girls would have legged it long before that stage.


    *Actually something similar HAS happened to me and I DID report it and it turned out that I was right to. Details on request if anyone's interested! I have mentioned this incident before.
     
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  21. Zeke Newbold

    Zeke Newbold Carbon based biped.

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    Well, not verbal hints. When I've wanted to approach a woman who has caught my eye (or be it NOT in a kerb crawling kind of way!) I have been known to do so by asking whatever banal questions I've been able to think of about the environment we're in - with the hope that they'll pick up on my intentions and reciprocate.

    It's not just me, is it|?

    Nobody is saying anything about prostitution, etc - just a lonely and gauche guy. It is only the car that makes it odd - but how many people walk down streets for any length of time these days?
     
  22. Naughty_Felid

    Naughty_Felid No longer interesting

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    Plankton is on fire today.
     
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  23. escargot1

    escargot1 Beloved of Ra

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    The reason women would be wary of this situation is that the driver might be kerbcrawling. It is an offence, not least because drivers sometimes harass women who are not prostitutes. This happens in red light areas and around them where women who are not prostitutes are walking down the street to work or the shops. A driver who does this can be prosecuted, whether or not the woman he talks to is a sex worker.

    Also, there are men who will try to pick up women for sex in almost any situation. Offering a woman a lift is one way. Asking her to direct him from inside the car might be another. (I know men who always pick up female hitchhikers in hopes of getting a sneaky wank or more - they don't think there's anything wrong with that. Doesn't occur to them that the passenger might be vulnerable and frightened.)

    This is apart from the risk of abduction, which girls have drummed into them from an early age.

    So yeah, I'd've been on t'blower ASAP.
     
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  24. henry

    henry still speeding

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    are we veering off into homogeddon territory ... op was distressed at being unable to help the driver
     
  25. henry

    henry still speeding

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    ah i read the original poster as being male
     
  26. David Plankton

    David Plankton Justified & Ancient

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    My wife has dark hair but a few years ago she had it lightened quite a bit, almost blonde. She dyed it back after only a week because of the amount of attention she was getting from passing motorists.
     
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  27. Naughty_Felid

    Naughty_Felid No longer interesting

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    Don't agree. This isn't homophobic at all, it was just a fact on how some men met up to have sex.
     
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  28. Naughty_Felid

    Naughty_Felid No longer interesting

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    cor do you have any photos?
     
  29. Naughty_Felid

    Naughty_Felid No longer interesting

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    lol so what was she doing to attract so much attention from passing motorists?
     
  30. David Plankton

    David Plankton Justified & Ancient

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    Not of her with blonde hair but I could email you a couple if you want.
     

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