I just bought a book from The Book Pedlar at the Cabbagetown Farmer’s Market - a bicycle-powered, mobile bookshop! So cool!!
Walking home from work today, I had my earphones in. I listen to podcasts on my way to and from work; this particular day I was listening to The Read. Crissle and Kid Fury, the hosts, had guests, and it was raucous, loud, funny, and I wasn’t really paying much attention to the people around me except as needed to avoid walking into them.
I heard someone hollering behind me, and glancing back I saw some dude gesturing. Now, I’m a woman with a body who lives in a city, so part of the reason that I wear earbuds is in order to ignore strange men who make comments and holler. So I kept on walking. There were other people in the street, so he may have been talking to one of them. Or he may have been on his phone, having a heated conversation. Or he might be suffering from delusions, and having conversations with himself. In any case, I knew better than to pay any attention.
He started catching up to me; I walked a bit faster to pass a lady with a stroller, and then slowed down again, and he came along beside me. Too close. He said something, which I didn’t catch - I was still looking ahead, ignoring him. He said something again and waved his hand in front of me. I took out an earphone.
Him: Do you know the time?
Me: Uhhh… sure.
*I fumbled for my phone, and told told him the time.*
Him: *Giving me a look of incredulous surprise, and saying in a derisive tone*
You couldn’t hear me when I was talking to you?!
*As though he has the right to be heard by me*
Me: *Giving him a look of disdain*
No. I’m listening to something.
He speeds up and crosses to the other side of the street at the next intersection.
This is a little thing; he didn’t make any overtly sexual comments, he didn’t try to touch me, he didn’t threaten me. Those things have definitely happened before.
But it made me so, so angry. We walked up separate sides of the street for several blocks, and the whole way I wanted to cross the street again and get in his face.
I was tired and hungry and surprised and listening to the podcast, so I didn’t give him a piece of my mind in the moment, and I totally resent it. No one has the right to my attention, certainly not strangers on the street, and the way he pursued my attention was gross.