Saturday, June 4, 2011

"¿Hablas Español?"

The man asked this straddling his bicycle and hopping to keep up with me, mostly still walking away.  He'd ridden past me going the opposite way, but pulled a mid-sidewalk U-y. 

"No.  I don't speak Spanish" I answered him.  I always get nervous when people on the street single me out to connect with.  It's usually asking for change, or to use my phone; and I feel put in a difficult and scary situation either way.
"Oooohaaaah, okay... do you know... I need... v'runrun"  (Okay, I don't know what that last word he used was.  That's the way it sounded to me.
"Where can I get v'runrun?"
"I don't know what you're asking for -" I started to detach.  There's something about my training that makes it very difficult for me to not listen to people.
"I am single.  I need sex."

I don't know what it is about a t-shirt, mid length shorts that are too big for me and sneakers that makes me look like a prostitute.  Or maybe he thought I knew where the red light district is.

"I'm sorry.  I'm not a prostitute."

Interestingly he didn't feel all that creepy.  But the fear it raised in me was significant.  To an extent there isn't a big logical connection with the event and the fear, and then there also kind of is.  What if me saying "no" was something he chose to ignore?  I admit turning my back on him and walking away was nerve wracking.  I wanted to turn and check behind me every second.  I was hyper-vigilant noticing a pickup that turned into a parking lot in front of me then pulled up alongside me and rolled the window down.  Then, when I walked past, it drove out of that lot and into the next one right in front of me.  I also noticed other vehicles slowing way down near me while I was walking well away from the road, a guy at a bus stop who yelled after me as I walked past "Hey you wanna take a bus?  Wanna take a bus?", a woman asking for spare change at a crosswalk for diapers, and a man stumbling toward me asking for something I didn't make out as I walked past without trying to understand him.

Adrenaline was strong enough that by the time I made it home, I felt like I was walking on a little spinning cloud.  I also decided to carry my pepper spray in my hand.

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