Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Don't Provoke the Girl Traveling Alone

The thing about riding the bus at about the same time every day is that you tend to see the same people. Besides the aforementioned Warsaw Pact, I also see:

  • The Young Lovers – a ridiculously cute couple who always snuggle together and fall asleep.
  • Danny Wallace – OK, so he’s not really Danny Wallace, but he looks a lot like him and he gets on the stop before I get off the bus.
  • Middle Aged Woman Who Wears Inappropriate and Impractical Shoes – no explanation necessary.
  • Sully – probably not his real name, but I suppose it’s possible. He’s some kind of workman, he’s Irish and he inexplicably reminds me of Sully from Sesame Street.
  • El Bandito – a youngish skinny guy who is fond of those insanely baggy trousers that let EVERYONE know he wears boxers, not briefs, nicknamed because ever since the weather got cold, his face has been hidden by a scarf. All you see when he walks toward you is a pair of eyes.

Today’s story is about El Bandito (EB), who gets off at my stop. This morning, EB was standing in front of me on the ground floor of the bus, waiting for our stop. The bus stopped, the woman in front of EB got off and EB just stood there. I gave him 3 seconds – he showed no signs of moving and the driver was starting to release his foot from the brake and close the door.

I pushed past EB and got to the door just before it slammed shut. When I stepped out onto the sidewalk, EB was right behind me. The innocent explanation is that EB simply spaced out, had had a rough night, didn’t get enough caffeine this morning and just didn’t realise it was his stop.

Now, I’m a total commie-pinko-liberal, but I’ve seen too much to believe that people are inherently good. My mind didn’t even consider the innocent explanation. My mind knew the following incontrovertible facts:

  1. It is 7 am.
  2. It is dark.
  3. There are few cars and passersby about.
  4. It’s a block to the nearest shop.
  5. We’ve been getting off at this same stop more days than not for at least the last three weeks.
  6. I can’t see his face.
  7. If I were going to attack someone, facts 1-6 would favour me and getting my quarry out in front of me would complete the set up.

So I stepped to the side to make sure he got out in front of me and I went into hyper-aware mode. He slowed down to try to cross the street. I slowed down as well – watching him and thinking about which object in my pocket would make the best weapon:

  • Keys – no, too difficult to hold.
  • Rock – possibly a good range weapon but impractical close up.
  • Cell phone – sounds funny, but it feels good in my hand, substantial and easy to hold, and the squat antenna could probably gouge an eye out.

The next 30 seconds, until EB got his skinny, box-clad ass across the street, were incredibly tense. Had he so much as asked me the time, I very well might have exercised my W-given right of pre-emptive action. OK, maybe not, but I wasn’t dropping my guard for anything. Even two minutes later, when I bought my coffee, my first thought wasn’t the usual “Mmmmm, nectar of life,” it was “Good, more ammunition.”

A couple of years after I was mugged, I started to have a reoccurring dream in which a guy attacked me and I beat the holy living shit out of him. In the dream, I managed to get the guy down on the ground and I’m pounding his head on the curb – aggressively and repeatedly. The guy is bleeding like crazy, but I can’t stop until I am sure he’s incapacitated.

Peter finds that dream disturbing but I find it oddly comforting. To me, it’s my subconscious saying “Hey, we’re okay. No matter what happens, you can handle it. You have the tools to protect yourself.”

Do I worry about taking it too far? Sure I do and in all honesty, I am more of a flight girl than a fight girl. But if I have to throw a few punches or a cup of hot coffee to get to the flight part, then so be it.

So, guys, please think before you do stupid things around girls who are alone in the dark. Especially you, Mr. El Bandito.


At 30 November 2005 at 19:17, Blogger weese said...

excellent point. EB could have, at any time, done any number of things to make you feel more comfortable. such as a silly grin and an audible 'oops' when he failed to get off at the stop.
you have to wonder about people who are so unaware of their affects on others.

At 2 December 2005 at 19:49, Blogger -Ann said...

I think it's partially a gender issue. Men don't often experience feeling vulnerable when they are out on the streets so they don't realise the effect they can have on women.

At 3 December 2005 at 00:17, Blogger Career Guy said...

Oh, I do. I'm sure that they are all thrilled to share the sidewalk with me and I'm always considerate of their feelings.


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