Here’s a bit of incredible rudeness that I was subjected to a few months ago:
I was at our local grocery store on a Friday evening, right around dinnertime. I prefer to get as much of the shopping done as possible while the store’s not too crowded. And this time, it was practically empty. I didn’t even spot another customer until I had stopped in the chips/snacks aisle. Just as I had finally taken a guess at what flavor chips my other half might want (he has wildly varying tastes) and was headed off to the next aisle, I heard someone call out, “Excuse me?”
It was a young man I’d never seen before, in basketball shorts and a t-shirt, keys in hand. I figured, it’s Friday night, he doesn’t have a cart/basket/bag, and they’ve just relocated half the product in the store – he’s probably run in for one quick item and now can’t find it or an employee (I’d yet to see one away from the cash registers myself). But I as soon as I turned and answered him, he mumbled a quick “Never mind” and was on his way. As I continued with my shopping, I may have passed him again once or twice, but I didn’t think anything of it. Finally, I’m reaching for scrub brushes, and this stranger approaches me again – this time in an aisle with a third shopper. “Do you want to know what I was going to ask you before?” I say sure, why not. He seemed nervous, and at this point I thought either he has incredible anxiety about not finding whatever it is he’s shopping for, or he’s going to try to flirt. Now I’ll admit to being a fairly attractive young lady, but on this particular excursion I was in my jeans and a loose t-shirt – not exactly done up. Which I say in additional (and unnecessary) defense of how blatantly awful the next words out of his mouth were:
“If I give you a hundred dollars, would you let me play with your boobs?”
Exactly. Those. Words. I can still hear it in my head, in his dropped-Rs regional accent, in the brightly lit home goods aisle of the Stop&Shop. I wish I had punched him in the face. I wish I had told him that making an obscene request of a complete stranger is NOT okay and that he owed me an apology. I wish I had marched up to the front of the store where there is always a policeman standing around, and reported this creep for solicitation. I wish I had done any number of things. But I was in shock. The most I could do was to stammer “No” and book it out of there. I managed to pay for my groceries, checking over my shoulder the entire time, and hustled out of that grocery store and up the street toward home. I couldn’t think, until about three blocks later when I managed to explode in a chorus of, “Seriously?! Seriously!” By the time I reached my apartment I was about ready to burst, and it took several weeks before I was willing to go shopping on my own again. I was floored. I’m *still* floored. I’m no stranger to vulgarity, but still – How? Why? Who does this? 0222-14
Well, at least he was polite in how he made his lewd request. Who does this? Entitled, narcissistic perverts with no sense of decency who believes he can get away with this type of harassment because he intuitively knows women are not likely to create a scene.
My mother was a petite spitfire who did not brook any man touching her inappropriately. I grew up hearing the stories of how some lug trespassed on her personal space and how she gave him a taste of her fury. So I was always encouraged to respond similarly and throughout my teen years into early adulthood, I have slapped, elbowed in the groin and stomped on the foot arch of about a half dozen boys and men who dared to think my body was a hands on experience. My dad used to laughingly say that I had an invisible sign around me that read, “Touch me and you die”.
For some odd reason, this inner determination to never let a male behave ungentlemanly around me did not transfer to my eldest daughter who began to encounter the crudeness of teenaged boys at age 13. She was reticent to confront them, in large part because she thought it was unladylike to make a scene. I suspect a lot of women are like deer caught in the headlights and are quite reluctant to angrily counter outrageous rudeness. My point has been that the scene has already been created by the man and how you respond puts an end to the scene.
For example, I have had young women ask me how to deal with the incredibly awkward and often lewd wedding reception game where the man who caught the garter puts it on the leg of the woman who caught the bouquet while the DJ encourages the uncouth crowd to egg on the man to inch the garter as far up the woman’s thigh as possible with the stupid claim that every inch above the knee means 10 years of happy marriage for the newlyweds. My advice was to cross her legs, tuck her dress in around her legs making it quite clear that just below the knee would be a good final resting place for the garter and if that hint was not honored, the woman had my permission to swiftly kick the kneeling man in the vicinity of his man bits. And while he’s rolling on the floor, apologize profusely for your terribly ticklish knees.
To react means you have to be prepared to act. You have to determine what your line in the sand is and god help the person who crosses it. This is a great learning experience for the OP to solidify her line in the sand and gird herself with inner fortitude to respond assertively to a future dilemma. Had it been me, I doubt I would slap a stranger but you can bet I would have dropped what I was holding, pointed my index finger at him and loudly and angrily exclaimed, “You are a pervert! PERVERT!”, and followed him through the store aisles as he beat a hasty retreat. And it wouldn’t take long for the store staff to notice at which time you point to the man, yelling to them, “He is a pervert.” I witnessed a near similar incident at a Chili’s restaurant about seven months ago. Apparently a woman had been groped right outside near the Take Out area by a man who chose to run away through the front parking lot. The woman came through the side door, pointed to the running man yelling, “Get him! He assaulted me!” Five men, including my husband, immediately leaped up from their dinners and ran through the restaurant, out the front door and chased the man down, tackled him and held him there until the police arrived. Yes, it was quite the scene and a lot of drama but it’s the right kind of drama.
I would encourage the OP to go back to the store and inform management of the incident. They have a vested interest in keeping their customers safe and comfortable. Also, file a police report. Years ago when a man exposed himself to me, I filed a police report and the officer brought me about a half dozen mug shots to look through and identify him. It turns out this was not his first offense. I doubt this is the first time this man has made this kind of unwanted solicitation to women and you will want to add your name and report to the growing list of his offenses.