I get approached in the street quite often when walking alone, usually with my headphones in. Sometimes during the day, sometimes at night, always the attention is unwanted and I get flustered and try my best to get away, sometimes I can do this easily, sometimes I can’t. The worst of these stories was an elderly man with a disfigured face, who followed me to the train station and onto the train, tried to give me his number and mentioned that he knew where I lived. right after insinuating about how he had ‘taken care of’ his ex-wife and the man she cheated on him with.
The fear of leaving the house followed me for an entire year until I eventually moved away.
In Barcelona, it took me three days before I could leave the house, after a man physically attacked me in the street.
So forgive me if I am sensitive to my personal space when walking alone.
A few months ago while crossing the bridge, a guy appeared right in front of me, startling me, as they always do, and said; ‘I’m sorry I was just walking past you and I thought, I need to tell this girl that I really like her look – you’re so exotic – where are you from? Are you Spanish?’
I said no, I’m not and tried to keep walking but he kept following me. Eventually I got rid of him but I remembered him for his distinct accent which sounded South African but he had said was actually English.
Today, lo and behold, the exact same guy approached me and said the exact same thing.
‘hello I was walking past and I just wanted to tell you that I love your look – are you South American?’
‘I’ve seen you before. You’ve done this to me before.’
‘No that’s not right, it must have been someone else’
‘No, it was you. That accent’
‘It’s English but I get offended when people say it sounds Irish’
‘YOU SAID THAT LAST TIME TOO’
I ran away, perplexed. Am I being punked? What are the odds of that happening twice?
So many times, so many times I am walking and my space is invaded by these strangers, hoping something they say will penetrate through the barriers.
‘You look like you’re enjoying that song, what are you listening to?’
‘I just wanted to tell you how beautiful you are, I don’t want anything else!’
‘But do you want to go out with me sometime?’
‘Hey you should be smiling with that pretty face!’
Let me save you the effort.
This is not a meet cute scene. I would like to not be standing here talking to you in the rain. This is my space. You have not earned the right to invade this space when I am unguarded and vulnerable.