Although I am verbally and sometimes physically harassed literally every time I walk to and from the DC metro to my workplace, the most recent incident was the most disturbing.
Waiting in the metro station for my train, i heard a male voice saying “Hey sweetie” over and over again while I read a book, and then was approached by a very tall male who proceeded to “praise” me with what he must have considered “compliments” about my appearance. He asked a series of questions, very aggressively, so I felt pressured to comply and answer, though I lied about my name and where i was headed, where I lived, etc., and did not feel comfortable telling him, I’m a lesbian, I have a long-term partner, because those sounds like excuses with the potential to infuriate. He grabbed my hand and wrote his number on it, pressing so hard it cut my skin, and proceeded to ask about me calling him, demanding details about this future call.
When the train arrived, he got on the same car as me, despite telling me he lived in the opposite direction of my train. I tried to sit away from him, but he continued trying to speak with me across rows of seats and passengers. At a high-traffic stop, I snuck off behind another passenger. When he spotted me through the large window on the platform, he was obviously very angry, and stood up. He was moving quickly for the door, but they had shut and the train was moving. I let a few trains pass and took a longer, more complicated transfer pattern from train to train to ensure I didn’t see him again.
While the entire thing was obvious annoying, it goes beyond that – that kind of control exhibited over you in a public sphere is disempowering and disoriented, and shakes a person’s sense of confidence and safety. The anger on his face and his attempt to get off at the arbitrary station I chose sincerely lead me to believe he had plans for following me to the false end-point I’d told him, which is TERRIFYING unto itself, but especially in conjunction with the series of media stories detailing the indifference and non-action of public transportation attendants/others in the general public.