It's a common thing to do, but Eric Ginsberg forgot to follow the first rule of driving.
"I don’t know," he said. "I didn’t inspect my car. I don’t walk around it every time I get in it to see what’s going on."
He was riding a three-day high from the inaugural Con of Thrones event, the first ever convention for Game of Thrones fans, at the Opryland Convention Center and didn't notice the punctures in his driver's side rear tire.
"The only thing I can compare it [the convention] to is Pride because it was just the same thing," he said. "It really was an amazing weekend. I was by myself on Sunday so I walked back out to my car. The closing was at 5:00 so I was leaving there around 5:30 or 5:45 and walked out to my car, I was just really happy."
Ginsberg, who is the advertising sales manager for O&AN, actually made it out onto Briley Parkway when, suspicious, upon pulling off at the first exit, he took heed from a neighboring driver who pointed out the three gashes in his tire. He then went back to the scene of the crime and called police.
He changed the tire, then sat and waited for six hours.
"I’d been able to look at the tire, all around it, because I’d taken it off," he said. "I could see that there was no damage on the tread of it. The reason I had a flat tire was because of the punctures on the side." And despite the long wait, he stressed a confidence that he wasn't unjustly dealt by Nashville police, but that his call was perhaps the lowest priority as far as emergencies go.
"It did take a very long time," he said, "but it had nothing to do with me being gay or anything like that. It just happened to be that I wasn’t in a life-threatening situation and it was starting to get dark and they informed me that, when it does start to get dark, that’s unfortunately when the life-threatening calls do come in so they just were backed up. I sat out there for… ever."
According to Ginsberg, the officer who met him was professional and comforting. She guessed the damage to his tire was done with a screwdriver and that his vehicle was targeted based on its bumper stickers. She confirmed that they'd received no other calls in the area regarding vandalism that day.
"She was very friendly," he said. "She did make me feel better because it scared the shit out of me. I was frightened. When I was just sitting in my car waiting for six hours, it just was horrifying. I never had anything like this happen before."
Nashville police have yet to declare it a hate crime, despite all appearances. Public Affairs Office Kristin Mumford confirmed to O&AN as well that no similar incidents have been reported, that this not indicative of a pattern locally. "The [police] report narrative mentions the stickers but at this point no motive has been determined," she said in an email.
Ginsberg has vowed to follow the case to ensure there is some resolve. In the meantime, friends have cautioned him about the fact his vehicle appears to have been targeted based on the bumper stickers and he's finding the situation troubling.
"Some people are scared for my safety," he said, "and say you need to take the bumper stickers off. It’s just safer not to have those on, but at the same time I’ve always wanted to try to be part of the change, and help the change, you know? I live in Lebanon and Lebanon is not like Nashville. It’s surrounded by people that do not think the same way I do and have different points of view on equality."
"I feel like I’m 13 again," he added. "If I took all the stickers off I'd feel like I’m trying to cover up me being gay, like trying to be more masculine, so nobody knows, to protect my safety. That’s how I felt when I was younger. I tried to have a deeper voice. I feel like I’m back in the position of being worried about what people think about me and it’s not a good place to be. It’s just a reality check for me to realize where I live, and that we still have a lot of work to do."