Yesterday I was leaving work. I was in a really great mood because my birthday is coming up in just a few days, and my husband and I had planned a weekend getaway, plus, my office had just had our monthly birthday treats/get together for all the birthdays this month. I was floating!
When I leave work, I literally just cross the street then walk up a ramp (about 30-40 feet in length) to get to the bus stop. It is important to note that it is separated from the pedestrian sidewalk by a bike lane, and there is a fence between the bike lane and the bus stop.
Just as I reached the other side of the street and was about to head up the ramp, a street performer who was apparently taking a break yelled at me, “Hey! Hey! I know you know where I can get some…, ” and before he completed his sentence I looked around to see to whom he was speaking. He said to me, “Yeah, you! I’m talking to you! Come here!”
His voice was belittling and demanding. I gave him the, “You’re crazy” side-eye, and continued to walk up the ramp. He yelled after me a few more times, which I ignored, and made it to the ramp hoping my bus would be there soon. The next thing I knew he was standing behind me in the bike lane behind the bus stop. I heard him say, ” What, do I have ‘jerk’ written across my face or something?” I resisted saying yes, and told him I was trying to get to the bus stop. He told me he “just wants to talk to me” and continued to try to get my attention (at this point I’m just looking for my bus).
Finally after another “just want to talk to you” comment, I turned to him and very loudly said, “I don’t want to talk to you!”
Thankfully he walked away at that point. I do not know, nor do I care, what he thought he “knew” I could get. He could have been asking for a recommendation to a good Thai food place for all I care (he wasn’t). His manner and aggression made me fearful. It stole my joy. It brought up abuses that I have experienced in the past, making them weigh on me all over again. I’m concerned he will be back today, although I’ve worked here for months and can’t say I’ve seen him before. Each time this happens, where the harasser has been particularly aggressive, it takes time for me to move on from it. Old wounds are opened. I want to take that power back from them!
Location: Austin, TX
Need support? Call the toll-free National Street Harassment hotline: 855-897-5910