April 06, 2001

I had my opinion of men raised and dropped in the same day yesterday. Just when I thought chivalry was dead...

I was riding the bus yesterday morning, which was packed as it always is between 7:30 and 8:30 because of the school kids. I was running late as usual or I would have been on the 7:15 and been able to breathe for the whole ride. The bus had thinned out and there were only a few of us standing when we got to the stop before mine. I was standing in front of one of the coveted single seats on the right hand side of the bus when the woman in the seat in front of me got off the bus. There were a couple of hispanic men standing near me, holding onto the metal bars and black straps as I was. My stop was next, which was about 3 minutes down the line so I didn't bother to take the empty seat. I waited for one of the guys next to me to rush to it and moved myself so I wouldn't block the path. But no one took the seat. I looked at the other standees--they were all men. As the bus went forward toward my stop, I waited for someone to take the seat but still no one did. Finally as we approached my stop, I moved to stand in the doorway to make a quick exit and sprint to work. The man who'd been standing next to me looked up at me, realized I was getting off, and took the single seat. I got off the bus thinking how surprising that small gesture was to me, that neither he nor any of the other men on the bus would take the seat as long as I was standing. I guess I didn't see chivalry much in my daily life anymore. It made me happy for most of the morning, knowing there were still old-fashioned guys out there. Then...

Walking to Forest Hill Station last night, on my way home from work, I was walking along the wall that borders one side of 7th Avenue across from Sutro Tower

and the lagoon that I assume gave Laguna Honda Hospital, just up the street from there, the name. I was looking ok and feeling happy, thinking about the pretty good day I'd had. But I certainly wasn't traffic-stoppingly stunning. Nevertheless, as I walked I heard a quick car horn toot and looked up. A cab was passing by on the lagoon side of 7th and the man driving had his head out the window staring at me and grinning idiotically. As he passed by and I turned away, I admittedly smiled to myself, flattered by the compliment. I think almost anytime someone finds you attractive enough to comment, whether the comment is a "You look great today" or a honk on the car horn, it should be considered a compliment. Which is not to say that the compliment entitles the deliverer to anything. As I continued walking down 7th, I saw the man in his cab drive by me again. He looked back at me as he passed and I got an uncomfortable feeling. There was nowhere to pull over along the wall, but just past Clarendon there was the church parking lot.

I wondered idly to myself, he wouldn't pull in up there, would he? I mean, if he went to the trouble of going down past the lagoon and getting himself turned around just to pass me again, it was just a quick leap to him pulling over and trying to talk to me. Which in and of itself was no big deal, I would just say "not interested" and leave it at that. But as I started to turn the corner where I would be able to see the parking lot, I cautiously glanced around it and saw him there, pulled over. I paused and thought for a moment. If he was just going to ask me out or something, it was no big deal. But suddenly I felt almost like I was being stalked. I mean, this was a stranger in a car who could pull me into the car. He could be a psychopath. A homicidal maniac. Ok, so my imagination was running a little wild, but a girl can't be too careful.

So I crossed the street at Clarendon--a tricky intersection but possible to cross--and started walking up the other side of the street. As I passed where he was, on the opposite side, he drove off. Once he was out of sight, I crossed back over to the other side and walked on up to Forest Hill, thinking about what a stupid display that had been. I mean, it reminded me of the stereotypical construction worker, hooting at women thinking, what, that a woman would hear "Hey, baby, I know you want it!" and respond with, "Why, yes, you're right, I do in fact want it, let's go out tonight!"? Honking and hanging your tongue out at a woman then tracking her down with your car is pretty much the same thing. How did he really think I would react? I mean, I didn't know anything about the man, I certainly wasn't going to hop in the car and say, "Let's go someplace romantic." Once, back when I was in a relationship, I had a cab driver who was driving me home ask me repeatedly, for the entire 20 minute trip, if I would go out with him. No matter how many times I said no, I have a boyfriend; no matter how many times I told him how big and tough my boyfriend was; he kept asking. Again, what did he think he would accomplish? That after asking 50 times, when he asked the 51st time, I would say yes? I think it's pretty creepy.

So as I sat and waited for the bus last night, I thought about the contrast between the feeling I had about the men on the bus that morning and the way I was feeling about men after the cabbie incident. I decided that most men probably fell somewhere in the middle, a little of the white knight mixed with a little of the tongue-waggler, though it is good to know that the extremes still exist so I can keep an eye out for them.

And speaking of taxi-drivers, I found this site last night and think it's great. This guy is not the one who I encountered last night, but rather one of those few and wonderful people who finds a way to make art out of his everyday life. Check it out: http://www.metroactive.com/papers/sfmetro/03.98/taxis1-98-3.html

Posted by Alyssa at April 06, 2001 01:21 PM
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