Let me start by saying that creepy mean spirited rude people suck.
I met a few today on a sidewalk near downtown Santa Cruz,
There I was, walking quickly, a woman on a mission to get back to her BRP b movie table top game (I had ran over to the old apartment and paid the cleaning gal) when I was beset by a group of rowdy high school boys.
They might have been college boys, but the point is they were young, probably close to ten years younger than me. There were four of them and they were blocking the sidewalk, just hanging out and taking up space.
As I neared them I had to slow down (I am a very fast walker… especially when there is pizza and a game waiting for me). I figured they would notice me and step aside. I counted on them being normal well adjusted human beings.
Eventually I had to stop walking, they were totally in my way, and I said in my cheerful happy voice, “’Scuse me.”
Again, I figured they would set to the side, smile, whatever. Again, no.
They looked at me, they towered a bit over me, and then they moved closer to me. At this point, I was not quite surrounded, but getting close and suddenly just a bit nervous.
I waved my hand in a vague way, I just want to squeeze through them and continue on my way. Apparently this slight hand motion was seen as disrespectful or condescending or something worthy of scorn.
“What’s the magic word?”
I blinked at him, the leader obviously, the one right in front of me, tall enough that I had to crane my neck to look him in the eye. “What?”
“Yeah, the magic word, what is it/” Echoed by his buddies, they all began to move around me. In another second, I knew, I will be completely invisible to the burger eating masses at Jacks.
This is one of those moments where you wish things would slow down. Don’t things tend to slow down in books and stories? And yes, sometimes they do in real life too… but usually it is when someone (maybe you) has dropped your mother’s favorite ceramic angel on the back yard sidewalk or when your cat is preparing to throw up all over the brand new carpet and you are just far enough away that you can’t do anything to stop it.
See, if things could have slowed down, then I might have been able to think of something witty, “Open Sesame” or forceful ‘Fuck you!” or polite ‘Please?”
But things didn’t slow down and my instinct wasn’t any of the above.
I pointed behind the leader, down toward Pacific. “Cop.”
They all turned to look and I back peddled four steps and then made a beeline for the sidewalk across the street.
I made it and moved my butt down that sidewalk at what can only be described as a fierce scamper.
I know that there are people out there who sometimes chide me for being paranoid, who tease me gently for dead bolting my front door at all times, who get annoyed with me when I opt to call the cops for a noisy neighbor instead of knocking on a nearby front door.
And yes, sometimes other approaches might work. But I think I’ll stick to this reaction. I won’t listen when a friend tells me that I should have stuck up for myself, when another tells me that the boys were probably harmless, or when people roll their eyes at my naivety.
After all, I am the one who always seems to end up in these situations. I am the one with the glowing green arrow above my head announcing “Potential victim” to the masses at large. I am the one who has been mugged three times.
But I am also the one who outran a crazy bad driver. I am the one who ended up on top in a bar brawl gone horribly wrong. I am the one who once talked a mugger out of mugging me.
I think I do all right.
But still…. I really really wish there were less creepy mean spirited rude people out there.
Because honestly? They suck.