I was at the grocery store about a month ago and while shopping I struck up a conversation with, what I mistakenly thought, was a very nice woman. We even strolled the isles, pushing our carts, and talking for a good 45 minutes.
It was a pleasant experience and as we parted, after ferrying our groceries to our cars, she even said, "Hope to see you again". We drove in the same direction when we left the store parking lot. A coincidence I assure you. She pulled into a parking lot for a condominium complex and I continued on to my house.
A few days latter I was in town again on business and as I passed her parking lot I decided to leave a note, on her car, asking of she would like to have dinner with me. Let me say here it was the only time I have ever tried to contact her and have not seen her since the grocery store.
She never contacted me so I let it drop as I figured she was not interested. Hey that's life! You win some, you lose some and sometimes you never get in the game.
Last week I got a letter from an attorney and a visit from a police officer. It seems my grocery store woman decided that I was stalking her and filed a law suit against me. The suit, as they ofter are in North Carolina, was delivered by a sheriffs deputy.
My innocent gesture for dinner had turned into a legal mess.
The above story, for me anyway, is totally fabricated. But for a police officer, in the Chicago suburb of Stickney, it is a fact of life. Police Officer Chris Collins used the information from a ticket he had written to track down Evangelina Paredes and ask her for a date.
In his letter he told Ms Paredes; "It's Chris ... that ugly bald Stickney cop who gave you that ticket."
"I know this may seem crazy and you're probably right, but truth is I have not stopped thinking about you since," it continues. "I don't expect a girl as attractive as you to ... even go for a guy like me, but I'm taking a shot anyways."
The note goes on to say he would understand if Paredes did not get in touch.
"But hey," it continues apologetically, "I did cost you $132 – least I can do is buy you dinner."
Officer Collins and the Stickney Police Force are now being sued for 'violating her privacy by searching motor-vehicle records for her address, then leaving a handwritten note on her car windshield outside her apartment two days after she was ticketed.'
The suit states that "The letter caused plaintiff to suffer great fear and anxiety," the lawsuit says. "Plaintiff could not believe that a police officer would use his access to her personal information to find her home and stalk her."
She also accuses Collins "of using his "authority and position as a police officer not to protect the public, but to attempt to manipulate the plaintiff into going out on a date with him."
I am an admitted romantic and I see no stalking here. I see a guy, who had an attraction to this woman, and took a shot at a date. Sure the circumstances are a little strange but to raise this to a the level of stalking is a bit over blown.
This suit speaks to Ms Paredes insecurities not to Officer Collins mental condition. What, I believe, Officer Collins is guilty of is 'poor judgement'.
Stalking is a serious offence and should not be taken lightly. But the rule of common sense needs to be applied to cases like this so that a persons 'innocent romantic intentions' are not turned into a 'letigious circus'.
Hopefully Officer Collins has learned a valuable lesson. I also hope that this suit is dismissed and Ms Paredes gets the help she needs.