Tuesday, May 14, 2013

1980’s Visitor to North Florida

I want to say it was early in the 1980’s. It was a typical work day for me. I was working in my territory as a pharmaceutical representative and had planned on visiting the physicians, pharmacists and hospitals in the western-most part of my territory, Chipley, Bonifay and Marianna. It was to be a day trip. I would drive into those areas visit the customers and be home by 7:00 PM. There was an hour differential in time zones.

It was a very nice spring day. As I was driving west I saw standing on the side of I-10 an attractive blonde. She was well dressed and looked to be in her late 20’s or early 30’s. She was hitch hiking. I thought how dangerous that was and I almost picked her up just to help her be safe. I was forbidden to transport anyone other than my family in the DuPont owned company car that I was driving. I, therefore, passed her by.

The morning paper I picked up in my driveway the next day revealed the fate of that young lady. Someone had picked her up. They took her to a remote area of Tallahassee bound and gagged in the trunk of their car. She was savagely raped and then beaten in the head by a concrete block and left for dead. To my knowledge the perpetrator was never arrested.

The young lady was discovered and taken to our local hospital and admitted. The story developed that she was a nurse from Sweden. She was innocently hostelling across Florida. This was a common practice back in her country. So here she was alone and hanging on to her life and in eminent danger of dying.

I, personally, felt regret in not having picked her up and given her a lecture on how dangerous of a practice she was involved in. However, it was too late. I also felt regret that she was so savagely attacked in my home town. I was embarrassed and saddened that she had that experience here in our back yard.

What ultimately happened was nothing short of a miracle. Tallahassee, literally, adopted this young lady. A medical fund was begun to cover her medical expenses. Enough money was raised that her parents were contacted, flown here and sheltered and fed by the good people of Tallahassee. She rallied from her injuries and was ultimately able to return home with her parents.

The news became nationwide. The national press picked up on the story and Tallahassee was painted as the All American city with a very large, compassionate heart. Our sheriff, Eddie Boone, was invited onto Good Morning America to tell the story of what it was like to be the sheriff in such a place. He had all sorts of glowing things to say about the people comprising the populace of Tallahassee.

A dastardly, criminal act was overcome simply by people being kind to a stranger who was abducted and almost killed in their town. That is part of why I have lived here for 41+ years. I do not think there is any place quite like Tallahassee. Working for a world wide corporation I was offered numerous moves to other places. I chose to stay here, because I would have been wifeless had I elected otherwise. My children live here right around us today. All three of them with their spouses with their seven children love this town.

We have our share of challenges with political conundrums, homelessness, too high taxes, moderate traffic problems and the weather. I, however, will live out the rest of my life here and be buried in a little burial plot on a little hill in Quincy one day. I am proud to be able to rest quietly with that decision.