Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
Last fall was my first semester at college. On a weekend trip home, my mom and I went grocery shopping together. We’d split up in the store, and I was just sort of wandering around on my own. I kept noticing this group of three or four young men. They kept looking at me and talking among themselves, and it made me uncomfortable. I was standing in an empty part of the store, looking at something on a shelf when one of them appeared a few feet away from me to my right. He gestured for me to come towards him. Being the nice, accommodating girl that I am, I did. I was standing a few feet in front of him. He started questioning me.
“You got a man?”
“How old are you?”
“What you doin’?”
“Look, man, I don’t even live in Columbia…”
“Where you live, then?”
At that point, his friends came up. Now, I was blocked in. There was one guy in front of me with another behind him, one to my right, and a shelf on my left. Alarm bells started going off in my head. They were all about a foot taller than me with muscular builds, and there was no one else around.
One of the other men asked me if I had a man. I said, “No,” and started to walk away. Over my shoulder, I tossed back, “And I don’t want one either!”
I’ve been followed around in stores before. I’ve been approached by random guys a few times who asked for my number without even a proper introduction (I forgive them for that because they’re young and stupid). But I never felt threatened by anyone in public until that day. I carry pepper spray with me everywhere I go these days, and I don’t ever make eye contact with strange men in grocery stores. The world’s a dangerous place.
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