The boogeyman is everywhere
I was very young, barely 19 years old. Fresh off the plane from another world.
New York was a different world from the one I just left and to say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. New York is noisy, loud, dirty, and crowded. I was barely navigating my correct route from work to home. It was springtime. Just as the warmth was beginning to permeate the air and we were finally free to throw off the thick and bulky clothes of winter.
Back in those days, in New York, winters were c-o-l-d!
The world is a lot warmer since those times. Global warming was not yet a thing, so the winters were brutal. Every part of your body had to stay hidden or you risk serious frostbite.
I remember some days waiting at the bus stop and seeing the tears (as a result of being in the cold) freezing on the faces of my fellow riders.
So, when the warmth begins to make an appearance, the bulky clothes come off.
Back then I was just learning about mortgages and working in a small office on Utica Avenue in Brooklyn. I worked from 08:30 am to 5 pm so the sun was still shining when I left this day.
It was before the prominence of cellular telephones and call-waiting was just beginning to make its debut. The bus was full as was common at that time of day.
Commuters were all going home. There were no available seats, so I along with a lot of other people were standing and holding on to the rails. At some point, I became aware of someone standing very close to me and so each time the bus would swerve he would make exaggerated motions to rub up against me. At first, I did not realize he had an ulterior motive, but as the touching continued, I felt something poking at me from behind.
I turned to look behind me and he had had the temerity to undo his jeans exposing his dirty underwear. Perhaps he had done this before he came on the bus with the express purpose of molesting someone.
I still remember his blue underpants, a soft fabric.
When I tell you I was livid, I moved away so everyone could see what he was about and I began yelling and screaming.
Well, that filthy creature slinked his dirty self off the bus at the very next stop.
To make matters worse, this nasty animal was no young boy he was an older man. Possibly riding crowded public transport with the sole intention of being a sex abuser.
To this day, the memory of that incident ticks me off, I cannot imagine what other young girls he had been doing this to.
And no one on the bus said anything on my behalf, I was left to defend myself against this dirty animal all on my own, the bus driver did not say anything or even threaten to call the police.
This was before cell phones so life was a lot different back then.
I understand the concept of not directly putting oneself in harm's way to defend others but instead calling for help.
But this was a bus full of many adults, someone could have said something. Instead, the abuser was free to slither his way to the back of the bus where he exited and got away scot-free.
Now as an adult, if I see something wrong, I say something or find a way to bring attention to it. I will not ignore or tuck my head in the sand because the offense is not happening to me.
My only hope was as a result of the raucous I raised the snake would think twice in the future before unzipping his filthy fly behind young women anywhere. Though I believe part of a bus driver's duties should be the ability to discreetly call the police in such situations.
The lesson life taught me that day was to never let someone stand too close behind me on a crowded bus or subway. I always made sure I turned my side to the crowd and wore a bag slung across my body stopping at my rear end to prevent anyone else from ever getting that close to me again.
Ewww — shudder.
Please share any experiences you have learned in how women and especially younger women can stay safer in the streets.
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