Because I Need to Look Busy or My Day Will Turn to Shit

My day has actually been pretty good, thus not wanting it to nose-dive. What started as a bit of a heated political debate that was getting kinda personal turned into a loan, so that my partner and I can get through this fortnight without denying ourselves food or reneging on the sale of a few monitors. Plus I was a good little cookie and made an appointment I need – well, I called and they’re sending out the forms I need to fill out. Funny thing: I may not be overweight enough to use this clinic, seeing as it’s an obesity clinic, and a weight estimation of 120kg (264 lbs) – with no mention of me being 6ft, or over if my back is having a good day – only just got me over the line to be sent the forms. I also got hold of my partner’s specialist appointment time, and his doctor will be sending out a new prescription of his testosterone, so he won’t be going 3 weeks without it (that’s really not fun). AND I called back about a job application, and got everything sent in for it. And I even used the scanner without breaking anything! Yay me.

I had over an hour and a half been getting my to-do list done (which started with less fun stuff like rinsing dog pee out of a floor mat) and when I had to leave for work, so I got some contracting work done. I’m seriously going to be paid $30 for work I did lying in bed in a pillow throne? I love programming.

Work got me kind of distracted, so I only just had time to put on shoes and grab a sandwich before I was out the door. Completely forgetting my contingency plan to make sure there was a later bus I could switch to if the awkward guy was on the bus. I say awkward, because I want to give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s just chatty, and maybe lonely, so combine that with a mental disability and he may not know that his behaviour is not really appreciate and makes women uncomfortable.

Awkward Guy’s MO seems to be sitting next to a young woman on the bus (by ‘next to’ I mean touching from knee to shoulder, and no matter how much you push yourself into the bus window he doesn’t get any further away) and proceed to strike up a bit of conversation. For me he said I was familiar, asked if we went to school together or something (unlikely unless he was a girl 4 years ago), then asked if we could keep talking, even though I’d had my nose in a book the whole time. He seemed to follow the same pattern with the woman he was sitting next to when I got on the bus, although with her he seemed to ask the ‘do you have a boyfriend’ a lot sooner than I remember. That’s another thing that makes me suspect he’s not intentionally trying to express interest: since usually announcing that you have a partner would deter that kind of thing.

This time, I just ignored him when the other woman got off the bus and he came to sit near me (I’d already moved to a less comfortable seat that didn’t have room for anyone next to me, and put my bag on the small strip of seat that was empty). He acted kinda hurt, but I just kept reading and typing and not looking up or responding – thus the title of this post. This time he was off the bus before the station, unlike last time when he tried to get a goodbye hug at the station, and then followed me into the station (when I went to go up to the platform after checking the train times, he was there on the ramp, and I went back to the train times screen to wait until he left).

So yeah, I’m not too brave about this kind of situation, and it’s not very pleasant to still have half an hour or more of travel time to get to work and be shaking and wanting to hide in a bathroom and throw up.

It does make me think, though, because I’ve been noticing things men do that can be intimidating or threatening or frightening, but doesn’t register try them as any of that. Awkward Guy likely doesn’t mean to be scary or threatening – he’s a short scrawny guy, in a vacuum he’s not scary at all – but sitting between someone and the exit, sitting very close, asking personal questions, following them, not taking hints to stop talking (like ‘I’m trying to read’ or ‘I really want you read this book’ or only humming in response to questions), ignoring body language cues (I give him a pass on this one, personally, because it can be hard if you’re not neurotypical), asking for more physical contact, and making comments on their body parts are things that people don’t always realise can be scary, and some of these things are common to street harassment (which I won’t really go into, as it’s not something I’ve experienced or witnessed much of).

I’ve noticed in the mostly-male setting of the gaming place that I go to, there’s a lot of behaviour I find uncomfortable or intimidating, or that makes me want to go hide in a corner curled up in a ball, that doesn’t register as anything other than normal to the men in the room. I’ll have times I have to cover my ears with my hands and use my hair as noise-cancelling insulation to hear something through earphones, because a group of guys will being having a yelled conversation across the store. Even if I’m not trying to listen to anything, that bothers me, because people yelling and being between me and both exits makes me want to turn to goop and escape out of my skin to get away. I almost quit my roleplaying group because for two weeks straight they characters were yelling at each other, and although both players are lovely people, angry yelling that close till me was freaking me out.

Part of me wants to say men should learn what it is that makes others uncomfortable so they can avoid it, but there’s also the fact that a lot of the discomfort and fear is created because of the society we live in – where the man chatting to you on public transport may be wanting to do you harm (and would have a 94% chance of getting away with it without a day in jail. And really, basic politeness and compassion would cover most of it – like noticing and caring when you’re making someone uncomfortable or scaring them.

So I don’t really have a point to finish off with, I kinda stumbled into a serious topic when I’d just needed to look busy for a while so today didn’t turn out like my last Awkward Guy encounter. I’ll probably re-visit the topic again when I have something proper to say about it, I guess. Anyway, time to force a 14-year-old to study English instead of playing with kittens.

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