They say I am either naive, or “too nice.” But this time, really, it’s a different story. This time, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or, I was in the right place at the right time…depending on how you want to look at it.
I missed the bus on Monday morning. This is a frequent occurrence, and a downside of public transportation. I never miss the bus by much–usually I’m (quite literally) chasing it’s tail as it putters away . Surprisingly, I kept my cool this time instead of throwing a mini tantrum. If I’ve made my semi-urban life look attractive in past blog posts, this is when you’ll capture a real glimpse into the not so fairy tale kind of days.
Missing the bus gave me about 20 minutes to spare before the next one came. I decided to get some exercise by walking to the Alhambra stop, which I figured would also save me a dollar or so in fare. I am so thrifty.
When I approached the station, I realized this was a stop where many homeless people usually gather. While I’m not scared of people who live on the streets, I’m not necessarily comfortable around them either. Many of the homeless people in our area have mental issues that often make interactions unusual. After my last experience chatting with a stranger at the bus stop, many friends told me I was “too nice.” This time, I told myself, I would be guarded.
When I sat down at the bus stop, I ignored the disheveled woman at the end of the bench. Very quickly a man sat down next to me who asked lots of questions. Ignore? Engage? Be rude? Be friendly? So many decisions for a Monday morning. When it came down to it, I was more guarded than usual, but still kind to him. I think that’s what He asks of us, and I wanted to obey.
But, I didn’t want to be kissed. Which is what almost happened. A homeless man tried to kiss me. And when I said “NO YOU CANNOT KISS ME!” he asked why not? And when I explained why not, in a calm but stern voice, he moved in closer. And when I jumped up, he touched my butt in the most creepy and scary way. And that, my friends, is when I pulled out the finger…not the middle finger…but the stern, mom-like pointer finger. Confidence and anger mixed together like I’d never experienced before. “Look at me! Look me in the eye,” I shouted. When he finally did, I told him to never, EVER, EVER try anything like that ever again with me or anyone. I threatened calling the police. I may have used the word “inappropriate.” Oh gosh…I probably looked like a lunatic to anyone passing by.
“I better go,” he whispered.
“Yes,” I said. “You’d better.”
That’s when he walked out in the street in front of a moving car. He didn’t get hit, but traffic had to stop before he ran to the other side. I realized how confused he looked. He wasn’t healthy.
I walked over to the woman who sat at the end of the bench. I felt a connection to her like I hadn’t earlier. I was going to hop on a bus, and walk away from any danger on the streets. She was up against men like this all the time.
“Are you scared?” I asked.
“Sometimes,” she said.
I didn’t get her name before leaving, but I’ve thought about her a lot since then. For a short moment, I felt a connection to her as a woman that I hadn’t experienced before. I felt the weight she carries, and also the strength she must have to get by.
I am so proud that I didn’t crumple when I needed to stand tall. I hope she continues to stand tall, too.