I can’t say as I’ve ever really had the idea that Charlottesville is safe. When I was a child and my mom was attending evening classes at the University of Virginia, Dad always drove her to class and picked her up again. Neither of them believed walking around Charlottesville at night was safe then. And it’s not safe now. The recent abduction and likely murder of Hannah Graham is a case in point.
Charlottesville isn’t a big city, but it’s still a city with a transient university population that can easily attract predators.
Which is why it pays to be a little street smart.
I hope if any of you have adolescent and college-age daughters, you are having conversations with them about responsibility—responsibility for yourself and for others. Graham’s case leads me to wonder if parents are failing (because it’s an uncomfortable subject) to say to their kids, “Look, if you’re going to get drunk, at least don’t do it in the company of strangers. There really aren’t that many people you can trust when you’re under the influence of controlled substances. Know who your friends are.”
I remember being on the Downtown Mall once with a large group of female “friends.” They had asked me out following a devastating break-up of mine that had ended a four-year relationship. After dinner at a restaurant a block from the Mall, we all walked to The Whiskey Barrel for drinks.
I was feeling like crud and not very sociable. I wanted out of this scene.
I told one of my friends I really wasn’t up for socializing and was going to leave. I’d ridden with a group of friends and did not have my car. She basically said okay, and that was it. No offer of a ride, no offer to walk me out to catch a cab.
I wasn’t drunk. But I was distraught and pretty careless of my own welfare that night when the world seemed like it was going to end. Fortunately, a real friend called me on my cell phone, asked how I was, and when I told him what was up, he said, “Okay, get yourself a cab right now, and come to my house where it’s safe.” He’s been my friend since I was a kid…for obvious reasons.
Thank goodness for good friends who look out for us when we don’t have our wits about us.
Where were Hannah Graham’s friends that night? Maybe the people she was with weren’t really those kind of friends.
Real friends look out for one another, and they certainly don’t abandon one of their number who is in a weakened state, in this case, probably not sober.
Learning who your real friends are is one of the hardest lessons of life, and most of us don’t really start getting it until we’re well into adulthood when we have that core group that has stood the test of time, maybe decades, and has rescued us when we could not rescue ourselves.
Friends like that could have saved Hannah Graham.
Friends like that have probably saved me countless times.
Do you know who your friends are?
More importantly, do you know who your daughter’s are?