To the gentleman that sat at a table next to me in a public restaurant the other day.
I was sitting at a table working on homework when you decided to sit down. I had been there for a few hours and was exhausted, and I probably wouldn’t have paid too much attention to the fact that you had picked to sit at the table next to me, except you turned the chair so you were facing right toward me. This heightened my senses, but still I continued working.
But then, I saw you watching me work. In fact, you missed your mouth a couple times while you were eating because you were paying more attention to me than you were to eating your food. But I continued working thinking you would leave once you finished your food.
But, you didn’t. Once you finished you stayed there. You pulled out your phone and put it on the table to make it look like you were using it. But, you were still watching me.
By this time, I had texted some friends asking if they could come walk with me back to campus, but none of them were available, so I was on my own. It was only when I started packing up to leave that you began to pack up to leave too. You left before I did, but you loitered outside the front of the restaurant in front of the window, so you could see me. I made eye contact with you a few times. But, I sat back down and continued to work.
You left after a few minutes of waiting outside and I relaxed a little bit. I waited another hour to leave the restaurant just to be safe and be certain you weren’t there. And you weren’t, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t terrified.
Because I was. You were at least twice my size. You were a well-dressed white man, which automatically gives you leverage above me in the public eye if something were to happen. In the court of law, the chances of you getting punished if you had happened to do anything to me are slim to none. If something had happened, I would have had to live with that the rest of my life.
Chances are you probably have either done this before or have seen it done so you think it’s okay to do. But it’s not.
Women live in constant fear of an interaction like this. It’s why we walk with keys between our fingers, with pepper spray in our hands, with our senses on high alert and with other people, if possible.
Although I do not know what your intentions were, that doesn’t make my fear of you any less valid. And that goes for any woman out there who has ever been afraid of a man (or really any other person). Their fear is valid and their fear exists for a reason. In the way the world is currently, the cards are stacked against us in terms of being safe when we are alone.
So please, the next time you decide to sit next to a person, particularly a young female who is alone in a public place, be cognizant of your actions because how you are behaving may be terrifying her.