I Did Nothing Wrong.

I was at 14th and Columbia today waiting for my bus home one of the only people at the stop, minding my own business when a taller, built man walks by and made some passing “Hey baby” comment. Because he was so close to me, I hoped that if I ignored him he would just go away and leave me alone. He didn’t. He proceeded to start in with, “So you’re not talking to me because I’m a black man?” to which I replied, “That has nothing to do with that, just that I and most other women liked being spoken to politely.” I wanted to continue to ignore him, but I was afraid that if I did it might escalate into something more dangerous. I’ve heard stories like that before. I thought that would be the end of it. He continued with, “Well thank you for teaching me that lesson” and I really thought he was going to go away. Then he said, “Do you have any other lessons to teach me?”

It became apparent at that point, he was crazy and maybe a little drunk as sometimes he got so close I could just barely smell the alcohol on his breath. I just wanted to get on my bus and go home and hoped it would be there any minute. He continued on and sometimes escalated in his agitation or calmed a bit and my bus still didn’t come. I realized there was no reasoning with him and he was determined to continue to harass me, so I just tried to limit my responses and be polite in hopes it would end soon. I did say to him that he was making me very uncomfortable and that I didn’t want to continue to talk to him, but it didn’t help.

Along the way, a woman next to me named Julia, who is an absolute angel, stepped in to the situation and helped me. I’m so grateful. She shifted his attention so it was on both of us and not just me. He rambled on and on with his crazy talk going between trying to get personal information out of us, to what was wrong with the world to commenting about us. He picked up every little detail. A scratch on my arm, the way I would move away from him, how I crossed my arm when he invading my space and meaning to tap my on the arm brushed my breast instead. He would always comment defensively. I was shaking but tried not to show it. When he walked away for a second, she checked in to see if I was ok.

Her bus came first and at first I felt relief when he said he was going too. Then he asked me if I was getting on and I said, no I’m waiting for another. Then he said he’d stay there. Not wanting to be alone with him for another minute I decided to go out of my way and get on the bus, hoping it would be safer, that maybe a kind bus driver would intervene. I think I must have sent the bus driver a million pleading looks as I was waiting to get on. I’m sure she saw them, she made eye contact with me quite pointedly, but she ignored them. He continued to harass me on the bus, but not to the same extent as before. He’d make drive by comments, walk up to us quickly, say something harassing and walk to another part of the bus. Stuff like, “Get the fuck out of my neighborhood” and “Suck it…” He got off at the next stop and I was relieved. It did happen to be the last shared stop with my bus, so I went all the way out of my way on a longer route home.

This whole situation makes me incredibly angry. I feel like I did nothing wrong. I was just going home minding my own business and this jerk decides its his right to enter my space and demand my attention and make me go out of my way. It also scares me. He was larger than me and quite clearly crazy. After talking it over with my boyfriend, I’ve realized that what I should have done is go into a nearby store and have them call the cops. I didn’t even think about it and was focused on getting home as fast as I could.

Submitted by Jessica

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4 Responses

  1. SarahFiona Phillips

    There is no “right” or “wrong” in these situations. I live in NYC and I’m pretty angry/rude/fearless when it comes to these things. I am not polite. I think I would have first taken steps back to distance myself from him and looked away to indicate I’m not “biting.” If the street was populated and all he did was talk I probably would have stayed and waited for my bus, ignoring him completely. I never would have talked to him or even looked at him. But we all handle things differently. Remember: you don’t ever need to be “polite” to these people.

  2. Golden Silence

    Remember: you don’t ever need to be “polite” to these people.

    I agree. The last thing on a harasser’s mind is being polite, so why should we give them politeness?

    And Jessica, you did nothing wrong. Don’t ever think you did.

  3. Maureen

    I’ve had the same experience: Ignoring a guy making comments about my looks, then being accused of being racist (at this point he kept shouting comments at my back).

    Obviously, impossible to believe I am just trying to walk down the street with no racist intent or desire to be objectified.

    Please note anyone who says this is about flattery: When you don’t respond, they don’t say sheepishly: “Oh, I’m so sorry; I seem to have offended you.”

    No, they get ANGRY, or rather express the same anger that was always implicit.

  4. anonymous

    Carry mace and spray him or carry a taser and taze him or a gun if need be, though this wouldn’t be recommended. I’d beat the S out of anyone who I saw doing this, or I’d want to at least. Never witnessed it myself, but I’d white night it if I did.