Tag Archives: awkward

End Street Harassment

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End Street Harassment

Hollaback!

A friend of mine brought this web site to my attention and it needs to be shared.  So often, women (sometimes men) are victimized on the street by men under the cover of anonymity.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that the women are raped or physically contacted.  Strangers commonly shout things at women as they walk in public, make obscene gestures, or even just stare at them.  Contrary though it may seem, this is “socially acceptable”, because they can get away with it without any of their acquaintances ever finding out.  It is normal and tolerated.  Their mom will never know that they cat-called a woman as she walked by, their girlfriend will never know that they took pictures of a stranger all while wearing a suggestive smile, their boss will never know they solicited obscene favors from a woman who was clearly perturbed by the suggestion.  The streets of a major city are perhaps even more anonymous than the internet, in that there are no IP addresses or other cyber crumbs to follow.

No more.

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I said, “No, no, no.”

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I said, “No, no, no.”

A man walked up to me and began making small chat with me.  He was several years older than me (read: about 20…), so I assumed it was harmless.  Lesson learned, never a good idea to make assumptions.  He eventually began to curb the small chat.

Lonely island creeping out a girl.

No. Please. Don't do the creep.

Do you smoke?  No.

Are you married?  No.

Do you have a boyfriend?  No.

Can I be your boyfriend?  No.

<<sigh>>

Him: Why not?

Me:  I don’t want a boyfriend.

Him: Nah…. You don’t want a BLACK boyfriend.

<<sigh>>

Me: No… I don’t want ANY boyfriend…

Him: Why not?

Me: I value my independence.

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Hey, little girl…

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Hey, little girl…
Cool lookin' dude reaching for something inside his jacket. Looks like he's saying: Yeah, I got da money.

Hey, little girl... I got what you need...

What would you do if the stranger sitting across from you on the bus suddenly handed you a package and told you to take it?  Today, I chose to engage him to figure out what was going on.  I got nowhere.

I had been riding the bus for almost a half hour sitting across from this guy.  He was missing an eye (not relevant to the story, but perhaps an interesting detail).  We had not exchanged a single word the entire trip.  Then, he suddenly offered me the bag he was holding.  It was a pink, cloth bag with handles, and it had polka dots on it.  Not to be sexist, but it was a strange style of bag for an adult man to be carrying.

Of course, I didn’t take the bag, but my interest had been piqued, “What’s inside?”

“It’s a brand new laptop.”  He said this as if I had asked a silly or obvious question.  I just looked at him blankly.

“What, you don’t believe me?”  Mmm…. no….  So, he opened it up and showed me.  Truth be told, there was, what appeared to be, a brand new laptop.  No power cables, no booklets.  Just the laptop and the dingy, pink bag.

So, at that point, what would you think?  A man has just offered you a brand new laptop.  On the bus.  For no reason.  I think there’s one thought that has crossed everyone’s mind:  “So…. is it yours??”

“Of course it’s mine!  She thinks it’s not mine!  Ha!”  Although he was answering my questions, none of my questions were actually being answered.  “So…. why are you trying to get rid of it?”

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Few teeth, plenty of advice.

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I deviated from my normal bus route and took a dive into a seedy part of town to do an interview for class.  Many of you already know that I am Dysnavic: a word I invented to describe my complete and utter lack of ability to navigate my way out of a paper bag.  To accommodate for my disability, I brought several hard-copies of my route, an iPod with photographs of the map, and had memorized every square inch of it.  There was no way I would get lost.

As I approached the bus stop, a chunky old man missing most of his front teeth greeted me, invited me to sit in the 3 inches remaining next to him on the bench, and asked me where I was going.

Toothless boy

Missing teeth is not always a bad thing.

“I’m taking the 11 down to Cedar Bluff.”

He looked at me like I was on crack.  “What business do you have down in Cedar Bluff?”

“I’ve got an appointment at the BCDG.”

“What’s that?”

At this point, I realized that this was not a conversation I had meant to get myself into.  Sharing details about public transportation destinations with strangers is not always the safest idea.  I needed to send anti-social vibes quickly.  “I have no idea.”

“What are you going to do there?”

“I don’t know.”

Though these answers seemed pretty deflective to me, they didn’t phase him one bit.

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