September 30, 2004

Too Close Is Too Close

From work it’s about a mile over to Civic Center station. There were no busses on VanNess, so I walked as fast as I could. Thought I’d see if it took any less time to go to Civic Center than VanNess since the train might be a little less crowded one stop earlier, but it’s the same, or a little farther and it wasn’t any less crowded. I was going to be late and had to take the J so I crammed on. Enough people had gotten off the car, there was definitely room for me even though I had an overstuffed bag and my mandolin bag to carry. I balanced them in my left arm and grabbed a pole with my right. To my left a big man was hanging on, standing close, his giant gut taking up a good portion of my personal space. Just before the train lurched into motion, some dude circled around and reached behind me to grab the pole with his right arm, shadowing me from behind.

Did the train car suddenly get more crowded? The shadow seemed too close, but I couldn’t move because my left arm was already sinking into the gut on the other side. I tried to shift my weight. The shadow was making nonchalant humming noises, as if somehow that would keep me from noticing that he was now directly behind me, and that his crotch was rubbing against my ass. His rubbing wasn’t in the rhythm of the train, the movements didn’t shimmy and shake with the rest of the passengers. My face started to squinch up. I tried to move left but the expansive gut was closing in. My expression was definitely noticeable to other passengers now. I thought about saying “DUDE! You are TOO close!” But my brain wouldn’t allow me to think that someone would do this on purpose.

A train never took so long to get from Civic Center to VanNess. I was seething: at myself for not demanding he move, calling attention to his behavior, shaming him, ridiculing him! For not protecting myself! At the fact that no one else dared to protect me! For not “accidentally” slipping and falling backwards ramming my tensed uncomfortable butt into his package and causing him some damage. But they just don’t train you how to handle these situations, even if they think they do. By now my face was rapidly cycling between looks of disgust, horror, outrage, and shame. Awesome!

At the stop when I was sure I could balance with my gear in my arms with no pole to hold on to, I grabbed the shadow’s arm, the one that had been corralling me in to his line of fire, and shoved it up out of my way. “EXCUSE ME, I’m moving OVER HERE!” I said, and started that direction though there was absolutely no room in that direction. Once I made my move the two middleagers in the seats nearest started reaching for my stuff “Oh honey! You needs to move!” They offered to take my bags, to make room, to openly talk about their disgust. The shadow, probably realizing that I was not going to continue to take it, disembarked and disappeared. Only now did the middle-aged farts tell me that he had just been doing that to someone else before I got on, that he had circled around to me like a hawk, and that it was completely obvious to everyone that he was doing something lewd, and that I didn’t like it.

Honestly I was grateful for their help, their offering to take my bags, their irate comments about him. The more I think about it though, the more these fucks piss me off as much as the shadow did. They saw the whole thing? Saw I was pissed and upset? Saw that he was basically sexually accosting me and they just tsk tsk’d to themselves? I have decided that is not good enough. If someone shadows me again I won’t keep my mouth shut. If I see it happening to you on the bus, I’ll ask you if you want to move now, not later. And I’d appreciate it if you’d do the same for me.

Oh, and if you wouldn’t mind, don’t touch me. Ever. Thanks.

Posted by allison at September 30, 2004 03:50 PM