It's the day before I air on Shark Tank…
I'm in Columbus, Ohio, and It’s November 11th, 2017, which means it is cold as shit outside…
We’re having a viewing party and, at the same time, I am moving to a different apartment so I am running around getting things set up.
I find myself on an unfamiliar side of town that is a little rough (near the casino for my Columbus readers).
I’m sitting in my car at a red light, and I see a woman carrying a baby who is frantically running up to the cars in front of me. I am guessing she is asking for a ride, and they are turning her away.
She comes to my car and I hit the button to roll my window down, letting the cold air from the outside come in. With a stressed/hurried voice she asks “Can you give me a ride please!?”
Earlier that day, I was watching a motivational video on youtube about a lady who built a company while being a single mom and how much she struggled.
I could see the woman’s face from the video in the woman at my car door, and I got this urge to help her.
I say, “Sure, hop in." It’s so cold outside, no one should be walking, let alone with a baby. I figured there isn’t anywhere too far that she would want me to take her anyway.
My window is still down, and I unlock the doors to my car while, at the same time, I reach over to the passenger seat to move my bag to the back seat.
When I am leaning over the seat with my eyes on my bag I hear yelling coming from my window that is still down, I hear someone repeatedly yelling “DON'T UNLOCK THAT DOOR, DON'T UNLOCK THAT DOOR”. I hear the voice, and I sit up and start to turn to look out my driver's side window.
Before I can understand what is happening, a hand reaches through my window and punches me in the face.
I don't know what is happening, I can't even see the road, all I can think to do is to stomp on the gas pedal, fight, flight or freeze, I’m getting the fuck out of here.
Luckily, the cars ahead of me are gone, so I didn’t hit anyone as I sped away. I now have my eyes on the road when I hear crying coming from the back seat. I hear the woman say “I am so sorry, this is so embarrassing”. I had no idea she was there. The woman I was trying to pick up climbed in the back seat when I unlocked the door. When I got punched in the face, I just reacted and pressed on the gas. She hopped in the back seat to get away from the man faster.
I have picked up a lot of people alongside the road in the past…but this is a first for me…
We are driving at a steady speed with traffic, and I am trying to calm her down, at this point, I have so much adrenaline I can't even feel that I just got punched in the face two minutes ago. She is telling me that the man who hit me is her child’s father and that he has been beating her and she has been trying to leave him and today was the last time he put his hands on her so she left.
I’m asking her if there is a safe place I can take her, maybe a shelter, a church, or a family member’s house. As I ask her this, a minivan comes speeding around me and turns to block off both lanes of traffic. I slam on the brakes and see the man who punched me minutes ago abandon his car in the middle of the street and is now sprinting towards my car.
At this moment, it was like time froze and everyone was watching this man and me in the street. I remember seeing several people in their cars just stop and watch us with the look of “what the fuck is going on?”
I realize what is happening, and I quickly turn the car around and stomp on the gas to get away as fast as possible.
I don’t care about any driving law, right now, if a cop would pull me over, it would be the best thing that could happen to me right now.
The man gets back in his minivan and is now chasing us. We are speeding down a two-way street and he goes in the lane against traffic to yell at me to pull over.
Cars keep coming toward us. He slams on his brakes and will get behind me until they pass, his van is significantly faster than my VW Jetta. I desperately pray for more cars to come so he can't pull ahead of me. He is trying to position his van in front of my car so he can turn and block off the street to stop me again.
At this point the lady in the back seat is slapping my shoulder while yelling at the top of her lungs “PULL OVER, HE HAS MY FOUR YEAR OLD IN THE VAN”.
I say to myself, “No fucking way am I stopping this car”
This goes on for miles, there had to be at least ten cars that passed us that slowed him down. I have no idea where I am, but I am terrified that I will get in traffic and will have to stop the car.
We come upon an intersection and at the same time, his car is about to be in front of mine. I slam on the brakes and turn right at the intersection while he continues to go forward. I speed away and keep making turns to make it harder for him to find me again.
I realize I have lost him, and I call 911 and hide out in the back of an apartment complex parking lot where I can see everyone come in and out and I can quickly getaway.
While I am on the phone with the police, it is clear that other people have been calling them about the man in the minivan.
I sat waiting for the police like a nervous kangaroo, what felt like hours was only about 15 minutes. While we wait, I tell the lady why I picked her up and show her the youtube video.
The police come and it's two men. They ask me if I want to press charges on this man. I tell them “No”, they keep pushing me to press charges and I say I don’t have time. They are telling me that I would have to do a few things the next day if I wanted to press charges. I said “I really don’t have time tomorrow”, they said back to me “what could you possibly have to do tomorrow that you can’t press charges on a man that punched you in the face and chased you?”. I say “I’m going to be on Shark Tank”.
For anyone who has ever been on Shark Tank when someone finds out that you were on the show, there are the same several questions that everyone asks.
The police look at each other and look back at me and go straight into Shark mode.
Police Officer 1: So what’s your product?
Police Officer 2: How much are you asking for?
Police Officer 1: How much do you have in sales so far?
I haven’t answered any of their Shark questions, and I interrupt the second police officer before he can finish another question and say “look I’m not going through the pitch again, all I am trying to do is give this lady a ride, but I would gladly have you guys come to our viewing party tomorrow.”
They cant make it to the party, but they said they would call me for more information on the man in the minivan.
They take the woman and the baby away in the police van to somewhere safe.
They call me the next day and tell me that they identified the man in the van and he was recently out of prison for first-degree murder. Chills ran down my body when I heard this. A lot went through my mind after the event, maybe I should have stayed and fought him or done things differently but, knowing this, he may have had a weapon on him, and I felt I made the right decision.
They tell me that if I press charges, he will know my name. I didn’t want him to know anything about me so I declined again. They told me that she is planning on pressing charges and that it should put him in prison again and that she will be safe. Thinking about it, the baby the woman was carrying may have not been his, the baby was four months old, he would have been in prison at the time the baby was conceived, none of that is my business lol but that was the thought my mom had when I told her this story.
When I tell people this story, they think I am crazy. They are right lol. This was fucking crazy and I am fucking crazy. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be the lady in the cold with a baby, what was going through her mind? I’ve had some hard times but nothing like she was going through. When I pick people up on the street, I do it because I feel like me doing it makes the world a safer place. Most people would not pick up someone alongside the road thinking that they are an axe murderer, and most people would not get a ride from a stranger thinking they are an axe murderer.
I’m not telling all of this to motivate you to pick up random people alongside the road. I’m telling you this because I want to leave you with this question:
“What is the most extreme thing you would do for a stranger in need?”