Tuesday, March 07, 2006

 

16 Blocks

I always wear my iPod when I am walking around, or am on my cell phone. These two methods seem to deter harassers, as it's harder for them to get my attention. I think the other part is that it makes me less aware of my environment, which is probably dangerous at night or in an uncrowded area, but is something which, during the day in Manhattan, I prefer. I'd rather listen to music or a podcast and feel as though I'm disappearing from the space around me, rather than feeling so overly visible.

As I was walking, two men unloaded a large slab of wood from the back of a truck. One man gestured with his head that I could walk ahead of them. When I tried to, they played the game of deliberately getting in my way. Every direction I tried to walk around, they placed themselves and the wood in front of me. This kind of thing happens to me all the time and I am enraged by it a lot more than by "cat-calling" because I feel like I am being somehow "tricked" and that my size (I am only 5'1") is being taken advantage of. I was teased a lot as a kid and there is something about this particular "joking" on the street, where I feel physically boxed-in, that really gives me the same feeling. I feel like I am being cornered on the playground. Maybe because of that memory, this kind of harassment makes me most want to lash out. Today, I just stopped moving and said, "Get out of the way." After I stood there, hands on hips for a moment, they moved the wood into the building and I walked after them, once I was sure they were far enough in the right direction.

Once I got to my destination, I was standing outside making a call. I was making a telephone balance transfer at my bank, meaning the whole thing was very dial-intensive, lots of touch-tone action. A guy comes up and asks me if I have a light for his cigarette. I said "No, I don't smoke," and continued my call. He says, "Why not?" I said, "Huh?" He said, "Why don't you smoke? It's very relaxing." At that moment, I fucked up my dialing and the operator sent me back to main menu. I was annoyed. I moved a bit away from the guy who wanted a light and looked at him like, "What are you saying, you freak?" but I didn't say anything because I wanted to finish the call and go inside. "Who are you calling?" he says as he sidles over, matches in hand. He had pulled them out of his bag. I was furious, but ignoring him so I could finish the call. He sighed loudly when I didn't respond. I did finish the call, but felt distracted and irritated. I started inside and he said, "Come talk to me when you're in a better mood." I said, "Unlikely."

Following the commands of automated bank tellers is annoying enough without having to dodge real-life randoms in the process.

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