in which i get in someone’s face

this day. i swear. today (tuesday) was a doozy. pouring rain and me running ALL over town trying to get paperwork corrected for my teaching license, then realizing i forgot to submit my timesheet and so won’t get paid this week. stressful. to top it off, i desperately needed to fuel up my car – i was basically on fumes. so on my way to my parents’ house for dinner, i stopped by a gas station to put gas into my car.

this is, i know, a boring story. everyone puts gas in their car, tess! WE ARE UNIMPRESSED.

except here’s how my experience went putting gas in my car. i fill the tank up. i use my card. the card reader tells me to go inside to sign the receipt. i walk to the station. it is not far from the pump to the station – and yet. as i’m walking, i’m about halfway to the door, and a car pulls up behind me. i hear a male voice call from the car: “excuse me”.

i keep walking.

“excuse me” – he sounds friendly, and maybe lost, so i turn around and walk towards him, expecting him to ask for directions. i’m the only one in the station parking lot (there are two older men on the porch of the station, though). instead, this is what he says.

“you’re beautiful! are you single? do you need a boyfriend? are you single?” he’s staring at me, and i cannot break eye contact, and i am flustered as all hell. i say “no, i have a boyfriend”, and start to walk away (i can hear that he’s trying to keep on, and i plan to ignore).

but then. this voice in my head. this voice who is tired and pissed off and really NOT in the mood for this shit? this voice swells up in me like a balloon and i walk back towards him. fast, hard strides – he’s started to drive off and slows when i start to talk (loud, mind you, and angry. the men on the porch must have heard this interaction).

“you get that what you just did is creepy? accosting a woman? in a gas station parking lot? that is creepy. you don’t have the right to do that to me. i don’t know you. you just made me incredibly uncomfortable right now, and that’s not okay.” i say it holding eye contact, rage and self-defense making me tall and brave. he stares at me like i just sprouted horns. i turn and walk off (he’s saying something else, and i don’t hear it, or want to. i know what he’s saying, even without hearing the words – i was just being nice, don’t be a bitch).

i get inside, i stand in line, sign my receipt, and by the time i get back to my car (i look SO carefully around the parking lot before i walk, the other voice in my head going oh hell, he has 100 pounds on me and i’m alone, this might go poorlyi am shaking.

at first that’s just anger. then as i drive to my parents’ house, it transforms into an emotion i’ll call “oh holy shit, that was ballsy and potentially idiotic”. i tell my parents about it and burst into tears – the whole rainy craptastic nature of the day exploding at once. my dad gives me a beer, hugs me, and tells me i’m independent and strong and a good person. we have dinner, and while i do literally walk into a sign later in the day, i feel better about the whole thing.

so. i stood up for myself. for my right to get gas in my car and not be harassed. i doubt that guy thought anything deeper than “what a bitch”, and he will probably mindlessly “compliment” many other women. and yeah, in terms of my personal safety, this was perhaps not the greatest move. but here’s the thing. it felt good. and it clearly stunned him. and maybe i won’t always get in the faces of the men who casually comment on how i look and assume that i look the way i do (these breasts, you know. i’m asking for commentary on my body by having them), but i did today. maybe somehow, putting that energy (that “this is my body, my day, my boring errand, and you do not get to disrespect me” energy) out there will bring something good into the world. at the very least, it felt really good to stand up for myself and my right to do boring errands without creeps harassing me.