Yesterday was one of those days I love and hate my work. We had a Christmas party for the clients, and it went really well – it was a lot of fun, and I was seeing some things I’m going to miss when I’m gone. For example, the clients were in groups playing Pictionary and one of them was trying to draw “Angels we Have Heard on High.” One of the guys said, totally serious: “Angels got high.” I was rolling with laughter, and it’s something I’m going to miss when I’m gone from here.
Then, we served lunch to anyone in the community, like we always do, and I got harassed by one of the guys. He took something I said to my boss and twisting it around sexually. I was embarrassed and angry and I put him out for the day. Things got better and I was walking to get some coffee before an afternoon meeting, and there was this guy in front of me…
I don’t know what these guys are thinking when they see a woman and then try to position themselves in a way that will get them noticed. Do they think they’re being sleuthy? Do they think we don’t see those not-so-surreptitious looks behind them, all cool like they’re Johnny-Don’t-Care? I tried to not pass him, but eventually did. Right as I thought I would get away clean, I heard him cackle “Hey baby, nsdi o[l sad fn89;” it was all bullshit.
I whipped around to face him, held my hand out and said firmly, “Stop it. That’s not okay,” and kept walking. At first he was all innocent. “What? I was just speaking…” The he got more angry. “Who the hell are you? I don’t give a shit about you bitch…. Fuck you!”I was still walking away, and I said thank you, which is my stardard “fuck you” reply. Then he got threatening. “Bitch, you can suck my dick, then you’ll be thanking me.” I turned into a store, my intended destination, and I could see him still growling at me when he passed by.
He kept walking, however, and wasn’t anywhere to be seen when I left. I took the long and public street back to work. I told Cohiba about it last night, and then this morning, he had a Talk with me. “You don’t know how scared I was when you told me that story. If you’re going to confront people, you need to know how to fight.”
I don’t wanna fight. I don’t wanna know how. I like watching UFC with him, but otherwise, I’m not interested in doing it myself. He’s a fighter. He wrestled when we were in high school, is a black belt in Kenpo and Brazilian jujitsu, and he’s been trying to get me into it. For my birthday several years ago, he got us into a weekend Systema workshop. I did kind of like it, but with an old brain trauma and a weak and osteoarthritic hip, I don’t like being flipped and flown around. So this is an old conversation for us.
“I know it’s not fair,” he said. “You have the right to walk down the street without being bothered. He was totally in the wrong. But. You still could have been hurt.” I know he’s right. I have worked with street people for seven years, and they don’t scare me. That makes me very cavalier about my interactions with them, maybe too much so.
So I think I’m gonna do it, I’m going to start to get training in something. I’m still going to confront people about their street harassment, because I think that’s important, but I think I’ll get some training as well.