Charlotte’s Story: “Smile for me”

A few weeks ago I was traveling through the Amtrak station in Sacramento, late at night and found myself in a scary situation.

The station and platforms are connected by covered walkways and tunnels which are very creepy after dark. When I got off the train the conductor made a point of recommending that I head immediately to the station rather than waiting on the platforms. She knew that there would be men loitering on the platforms and that it would be dangerous or uncomfortable to wait there.

It takes a few minutes to get to the station and once I was in the tunnels I ended up alone with one group of passengers almost out of sight ahead and another group lagging behind—and this is when the guys who were hanging around started following me. One man followed me on the bike and then circled around me, making comments, telling me to smile and come with him. “Where are you going?” “Talk to me.” “Smile for me.” As I walked quickly towards the station and tried to brush him off he kept riding circles around me while four of his friends walked behind us and laughed. I felt trapped by the five of them and didn’t see anyone around who could have helped me if I confronted them.

I was able to shake them off when more passengers from the train caught up with us and was relieved to get to the station. There, a second conductor was advising women traveling alone or with young kids to walk to the platform in a large group or ride with him to avoid trouble.
It amazes me to think that this is a well known problem that has not been dealt with!! I wrote to Amtrak asking for information on this TWO WEEKS AGO but have had no response

— so what do I do next?


5 Responses

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  1. Andrea says:

    Interesting how women are advised to leave the area to avoid these men, when there should be efforts to make sure these men are not hanging around so that women can wait for their trains without worry about being harassed.

  2. Katrina says:

    I agree, Andrea. It would be nice if train officials told them men to leave, called the police, and in short, alleviated the source of the problem instead of avoiding it.

  3. ak says:

    How can men ask why some women seem to hate men after all this? Stop harassing a woman or (shame of all shames) a girl just because she’s alone or even a group of women or girls just because they’re alone and without any men or boys around them!

    The same way these so-andsos feel they can harass you verbally on the street is the same way sadly many women, you and even the old, can’t live alone because they’re always the one geting their residence broken into, beaten up, robbed raped and/or murdered and sometimes kidnapped because these so-and-sos watch the lone woman’s movements and know that she’s alone without a husband, live-in boyfriend or girlfriend or without any housemates/roommates.

    And these perpetrators rationalise it in their own way as if to say a woman shouldn’t be alone inside nor outside without a man ever.

  4. Ingrid says:

    I too think that it is interesting that the men causing the problem are able to stay in the area and the women just trying to get home are the ones that are adviced to protect themselfes by walking in groups with others.

  5. sarah says:

    That’s scary. I’ so sooo glad you got to a good conductor. Sacramento is a pit. Used to live there… It’s always been nasty!! glad your safe 🙂

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