I opted to take the bus from Friendship Heights to Rockville this evening to go to a friend’s happy hour, which was to celebrate her recent marriage. I knew it would be longer than taking the train, but it was going to save me money and I think the Potomac area is lovely to glance at on a bus ride.
As I waited at the Friendship Heights terminal, one of the E buses (E2/E4) pulled up and the passengers got off. One of them was this weird man who had what looked like white paint on the side of his face. (He eventually wiped it off himself.) As soon as he gets off the bus, he looks like he wants to get back on! Then he peers into the window of the bus as if he left something.
I got a creepy vibe from him, and my gut was correct because he kept trying to stand close to me. Everytime he came near me I moved away. I also noticed him walk directly into one man and act like he was going to follow a woman. He’d also repeatedly shake his head “No” for no reason.
Other buses came and he’d stand in line like he was going to board, but at the last minute he stepped out of line. This man was clearly mentally ill, but his actions unnerved me regardless.
So when the bus I was waiting for, the T2, arrived, I boarded it, thinking I’d escaped that man. I looked out the window and saw him get in line for my bus. I assumed he’d step out of line at the last minute like he did the other bus, but he boarded. I got nervous.
He paced the aisle three times and settled on the seat one row behind me and to my left. He then flings his scabby arm and his bag in the empty seat next to me. I wasn’t having it!
“No, you can’t do that!” I said. “Move your bag. People are still trying to get on and need seats.” He’s slow to respond, but eventually moves his bag.
The bus pulls off and this is not the last of this guy doing stuff. He changed his seat so many times. When he moved near me I moved to a different seat. He kept trying to get my attention by making kissing sounds, making strange gestures such as acting like he was stirring stuff in an imaginary bowl and pointing his crusty hand at me. I did my best to ignore him. He also yelled out non-sequiturs and made weird noises at me.
In another game of bus cat and mouse, he once again points at me, and I lost it:
“STOP POINTING AT ME AND LEAVE ME ALONE!” I snapped. He turned around and did just that. Everyone on the bus stopped to look. Two teenage girls who were behind me snickered. I was on edge and uncomfortable.
He did other things, such as:
- Sit really close next to a woman who ended up getting pinned to the window seat
- Signal for the bus to stop, but didn’t get off (instead he threw his arms in the air as if he was admitting defeat)
- Opened his window and yelled at a woman who got off the bus to “CALL ME!”
- Tried to touch the hand of a man who boarded the bus, then later tried to offer that same man the iced tea he’d been drinking out of
Minutes later, he once again moved near me, sending me moving yet again. This was getting annoying. And I usually hate it when people “seat hog” and put their bags in the seats next to them, but in this case I felt justified in doing that. This guy scared me and I didn’t want him near me.
He then once again signals for the bus to stop, and I assumed it was another bluff, but he actually got off that time, and the stop was in front of the Potomac Recreational Center. I could finally let my guard down, but the experience had left me tense. The bus driver apologizes for that rough experience. I say “It’s not your fault.”
What could’ve been done? The streets the bus drove down (River Rd and Falls Rd) are nothing but road in the middle of nowhere, so it’s not like he could’ve been kicked off the bus and found another way to get to his destination, nor could I get off and do the same. I felt trapped and as if I had no way out.
I feel that that guy is trapped too, trapped in his own mental disarray. I’m sure he has no sense of what he was doing and how he came off, but I can’t deny that his actions made me really tense and uncomfortable. If this man needs help, he needs a lot more than what he’s getting.
Submitted by Anonymous on 6/19/2010
Location: Friendship Heights bus terminal; T2 bus to Rockville Station
Time of Harassment: Evening Rush Hour (3:30P-7:30P)
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