Haven't been the same ever since I was stalked
Some background information: I am an 18 years old, and turned 18 this past November. I got employed at this ice cream shop in summer of 2021, when it was just opening, and I was 17 years old.
I am a very petite woman, I am 4'6 and thin. I have a pretty youthful face as well.
This is a small ice cream shop, opened summer 2021. The staff is all female (the male coworkers I had quit, we had 4,) but my manager/franchise owner is 24 and a nice guy. No creepy advances on us and we all get along well. The staff are anywhere from 16-20 years old, so at any hour of the day, its pretty much just 2-5 teen girls working and running the shop. My manager comes in every so often, but not daily, and not for more than an hour or two at a time. We also close late, and sometimes I get home at 1:00 AM on weekends. 12:00 on schooldays.
My job requires me to be very chatty, which comes naturally to me. We take orders and serve them, treating customers like old friends, etc etc. It's gimmicky overall, but I am genuine when I talk with customers. I've loved my job since I got it. It's my second home.
In August, when I was still 17, a man in a sheriff's uniform, anywhere from his late 50's-early 60's came in. He drove a normal car. Not a cop car, just a white mercedes.
Because I'm a server, I chatted with him while we prepared his order. It was kind of complicated, so we talked for a few minutes. It was also a slow time of day, (my job is often slow, especially fall-winter,) so he ate at the counter to talk to me while my coworker was doing other stuff.
He asked me innocent enough stuff, like my age. He said, "You look too little to be working here! How old are you?" to which I answered honestly. He was just a friendly old guy. Old folks tend to be chatty customers, so I didn't think much of it. He asked me what church I go to, and I answered. It's a big suburb of a huge city, so I didn't figure he'd know it. He then asked me where it was located, which I thought was a bit funny, but I answered anyways. Not with the address, but I gave him the general area. He thought for awhile and then ask me if I drove, to which I answered yes. In retrospect this should have all been obvious, I feel so dumb typing this out. But please, please try to understand that it truly felt like he was just a chatty old customer at the end of his workday. Our store is by a police station, so it seemed natural. And he was a cop. I felt naturally inclined to trust him.
He got his ice cream and left after asking my name. He said he loved the ice cream and would come back soon, and said I was a sweet girl. I waved bye and didn't see him until the next weekend I worked. He had also given me a $5 cash tip, which was more than the item he ordered. He made sure I pocketed it instead of putting it in the jar.
The next weekend he came, I greeted him familiar, and called him officer. We chatted for awhile while his order was made and we caught up on the week. He said his job is stressful, and he sees the worst of people, and how filthy they are. I was kind of surprised at his tone shift, but comforted him with some words. He seemed to perk back up. He asked my birthday, which was coming up pretty soon, it was September now. I answered it was November X, and he asked if I had a car. I laughed and said yes, and he asked what type of car it was. I stupidly told him the color and brand of my car. He joked and said he would buy me a car for my birthday, and I laughed it off. Apparently it wasn't a joke, because he seemed a little upset I laughed, so I corrected myself and said it was sweet of him. He gave me his phone number, made me write it down, and told me to text him my schedule every week. He said he wanted to see me more often because I was his 'little friend.'
When I went home and mentioned the thing about the car to my mom, she frowned and said it was weird, and I shouldn't take his orders anymore. I didn't understand why she said this at the time. I guess her intuition was way better than mine.
He came in a few more times and things went similarly. He was always agitated I had 'forgotten' to text him my schedule for the week. I saw him the day after Halloween, and he seemed happy to be getting ice cream. I asked him how his Halloween was, and his mood shifted like a switch. He went on a very emotional rant about how much violence and rape and murder he sees on Halloween, and how dangerous working Halloween is. It was not what I was expecting. I consoled him and talked about how I'm glad he didn't get hurt at least. He made a final remark on how disgusting people are inside, and took his ice. He talked to me kindly for another few minutes, with his demeanor back to normal, being a nice old man. He wished me well and said he was glad that sweet people like me existed. I laughed it off and thanked him, and said he was way too sweet. I always called him officer. He then said I should at least get his name, since we're friends now, and he asked if I wanted to call him his first or last name. I'm from the south, so I chose to call him by his last name. He seemed barely disappointed but I shrugged it off. I'm stupid. His rant got the attention of my coworker, who looked at me after he left and just asked me "Are you okay?"
I said yes. The personality shift had been weird, but I excused it on him having a stressful night. I am very stupid.
The week passed and I came in again a couple days later. My shift lead pulled me aside and asked me if I knew a customer who fit his exact description. Vehicle, uniform he always wears, appearance. I said yeah and described my experiences with him.
She told me that he always comes in on days I don't work, asking to know my schedule, and getting extremely agitated and angry at the staff when they say they can't tell him, and I'm not there. She told me that he calls me 'his little girlfriend,' and that he's gonna get me a job at the police station so I don't have to work a minimum wage job anymore. He leaves, very upset, and does that every couple of days. My other coworker came in and agreed, saying she had experienced him doing that when I wasn't there too. She also said that he calls me "his little girlfriend, the cute one who looks like she couldn't be any bigger or older than middle school."
I was kind of horrified, I had NO idea he was saying any of that. My shift lead was shocked I didn't know he was like that, and decided to tell the owner. She and my owner came in and said he may be a fake cop as well, based on the car and everything. I'm still not sure.
The same week, he came in. Same routine. He said I should clock out and grab lunch with him. I laughed and said no, and was uncomfortable and scared, but hid it. I told him I couldn't walk out and leave my coworkers here by themselves, even though I was alone for another hour. He seemed upset by that but left.
That same week, two days later, I was in an emptyish parking lot on the wrong side of town, earlier in the morning. A man flagged me down across the parking lot, screaming "miss, wait, miss!" trying to grab my attention. I was out of my car and ran back to it and got in, shutting the doors. I cracked my window a sliver because he was shouting and talking to me. He asked if I could get out, and help him make a phonecall using my phone. I was really confused, his behavior was erratic and strange. I said no, sorry, and rolled my window up. He started yanking on my door handle and I sped off. A car peeled out of the parking lot at the same time I was leaving, and tried following me, but got stopped at a really big 4-way stop intersection. I drove around for half an hour before going home and telling my mom, who chalked it up to him being some tweaker. It felt a lot more sinister. I know this is so overdramatic, and probably a coincidence, but I don't think I can describe how scary it was. I noticed the car that tried following me out of the lot was a car that had also followed me to my destination. I know it was probably coincidence, but I was so scared. It felt so sinister.
That same day, I was home alone. It was the afternoon and I had left and came back, I was gone about an hour. When I came back my dog was restless and following me everywhere, which was a little strange. I also noticed bad smells by my front door. When I walked outside, there was a pile of dead rodents, and a few strewn around next to my patio. I immediately locked all the doors and went inside. We dont have cats or anything that wouldve done that.
And because he was allegedly, and I think he was a real cop, I never said anything about it. I was terrified. I think it was related to him, the animals and the guy trying to yank my car door open. He ran across the parking lot to try and catch me. I was also parked close enough to the car that peeled out to where I could have been dragged into it. I feel insane. Am I connecting dots that don't exist? I couldn't tell the cops. He's a cop.
Over the next two weeks I occasionally caught his car driving through my neighborhood. I think he found my address by running my plates since he knows the car I drive. His windows are tinted, so maybe I was imagining things, but it was the exact same car.
Then it all stopped. He came to my work for the first time in weeks recently, out of uniform. He was not chatty. He was very quiet, and angry seeming. He told me he "quit his job to retire." He seemed very uncharacteristically dark and quiet. I was scared but I served him anyways, and told him I hope retirement is good to him.
I haven't been the samew since this all happened. I have been so paranoid. I have dropped out of in-person classes. I still work there, but always in the back room. I always park under lights. I don't shower for over a week sometimes because the thought of not hearing a break-in because of the running water scares me. I'm terrified. I don't like being alone anymore.
I used to be a confident, chatty, outgoing person. I don't know what happened. I did this to myself, the anxiety, and worrying, but I feel suffocated. I feel so afraid. I know nobody read this because I rambled for way way too long, but I need this off my chest. I'm petrified most days now, even though I know it's overdramatic and irrational. How do I become the person I was before this? I feel like a shell, a damaged mirror's reflection of who I was. Someone please tell me how to stop being scared.