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I was walking up the street headed to my favorite little store when I saw a man on a bike … I had my earphones plugged into my phone and immediately called my brother, hoping to have a buffer because the guy started saying “Hey Sweetie! Sweetie!” as soon as I got close.
My brother didn’t pick up but I pretended to be talking to him — sometimes that sort of thing works; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had pretend phone conversations when I felt uncomfortable in public. Anyway, I greeted and said my brother’s name as the guy continued to follow me, calling “Sweetie! Sweetie!” but when I said my brother’s name, the guy on the bike said, “That’s not my name, it’s [whatever it was, I was way too freaked out to recall, but it might've been Walt].”
About that time my brother actually called me back but in my distress and haste to answer I accidentally hung up on him. Walt, or whatever, picked up his rhetoric, saying “You know how I know you’re not a street woman?” and repeating it several times when I didn’t answer. He’d followed me for a couple blocks now, and I was starting to get scared, so I said, “Please leave me alone, I’m on the phone with my brother.”
Well, I got half through that and he started with the usual, “FUCK YOU BITCH” sort of thing; I tuned it out because he was finally riding away, I’d successfully dialed my brother by this time, and he answered about then. Luckily I was now at my destination, but I saw the man up ahead, beyond the store’s lot, and he appeared to be waiting for me. I ducked into the store, nervous, still on the phone with my brother.
I recounted to him what had happened and, as per the usual, he made a show of threatening the guy. Which, you know, I appreciate, but he lives in a different state, so not really useful in the here and now. Anyway, I talked to him about what’d happened and he actually was totally sympathetic — to the point where I was genuinely moved. I told him a little of what it was like to have someone follow you or have someone harass you and how a lot of times my male friends have said, “Oh, I would love it if someone complimented me!” and how infuriating that is.
And he totally got it.
Anyway, I spent about twenty minutes in the store hoping the guy wouldn’t wait around for me and wanting to murder my Catch The Bus ap because it was down and I couldn’t see when the next bus was coming — I had been hoping to jump on that just in case. Lucky for me, the guy was gone when I finally left the store, but I stayed on the phone with my brother just to sort of feel more secure as I walked home. As we chatted I told him that if he ever saw someone bothering a woman on the street to please intervene if possible, and he said that he absolutely would.
Honestly, what happened really sucked and freaked me out, but I am really thankful for the conversation I had with my brother and that I know he is both sympathetic to AND will stand up for any victims of street harassment that he sees.
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