Public Harassment: I work as a school crossing guard…

I work as a school crossing guard and am a petite Asian American woman. One morning around 7:30 am, one of the pedestrians I know from the neighborhood stopped by the corner deli near my post. As is his habit, he tied the leash of his dog to a pole near me, and I was happy to pet the dog a little while her owner was in the deli.

A man driving a truck stopped at the red light. Out of his window he made eating motions with his hand to his mouth, trying to get my attention. At first I thought he was asking me to feed the dog, so I shook my head. Seeing that I didn’t understand him, he leaned out the window and yelled “Aren’t you going to eat it? Your people eat dogs, right!”

I have been harassed multiple times before, but this one was really surprising and cruel. I took out my phone and took a photo of the man with his truck. Tears sprang to my eyes. I walked away from the dog and could not keep my composure for several minutes. While I was crying and blowing my nose, dozens of people walked right past me. Some made eye contact and said hello or waved, but didn’t notice that I was crying.

One woman noticed my face and stopped to ask, “Are you okay?” I said “no” and told her quickly what had happened. She stayed with me for a couple of minutes, just listening to my story and reassuring me that it was a terrible thing to say. I thanked her and ever since then have been so grateful for her presence in the moment of my distress. It really helped to have just one person acknowledge that I had been deeply hurt while working to protect others.