The other day, I was driving home with Cameron. I’d come from work, he’d been in preschool, and we were happily chatting about his day as we inched down the main street connecting his school to our home. On this particular day, I had the windows down to enjoy the breeze.
I didn’t realize such a simple luxury could have such consequences, minor though they were.
As I waited at a red light, I heard a voice – a man’s voice – to my right. “You’re so beautiful! Are you married?” A man had seen me approaching this light and decided to approach me at open passenger window.
Fortunately, so, so fortunately, the light had turned green just in time for me to slowly roll away and call my boyfriend.
I explained what happened, and he was horrified. More than I was, in fact. At the moment, I just thought it was strange and rude. But the implications started to settle in.
What if the light had stayed red another minute? Could he have reached inside the car to unlock the door and let himself in? What if he’d continued talking at me? I was trapped in my car, trapped in gridlock. I had nowhere to go and nothing to do but roll up my window.
“He was just giving you a compliment. Why are you freaking out?”
Could he have had a gun? What about a knife?
“Why would you jump to that kind of conclusion? Seriously, you’re overreacting.”
Because this is the world I live in and have been raised in. Sure, not all men are like that. I know many incredible, admirable, respectful and respectable men. But not all men are like the men (friends, family, colleagues, partner, co-parent) I’m lucky to have in my life.
I live in a world where I apparently can’t drive with an open window down a crowded street without being harassed.
I live in a world where my boyfriend worries for my safety as I drive my son home from school.
I live in a world where I have to think of these seemingly crazy “what-ifs.”
Not every man is like that, but when I’m being yelled at in my steel cage of a car, my only gauge of knowing who is on the other side of that door is his respect for boundaries and my sense of security.