Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I am Still Angry Two Years Later

This is a few years late, but I just found your blog. I think it's fantastic and I want to share this story so that if anyone comes across this guy, they know what to do!

In December 2006, I was riding the #77 Belmont bus. I'd hopped it around 9 p.m. at Belmont and Racine and was taking it to the Blue Line at Kimball. The bus was crowded, and I ended up standing. I was wearing plaid tights and knee-high boots. Immediately, a red-faced man between 35-40 struck up a conversation. He was obviously developmentally disabled. He said, "I like your tights. Are those boots comfortable?" I thought he was asking because I'd gotten stuck standing on the bus. Indeed, they were NOT comfortable, so I said, "No, they're not, but sometimes you have to suffer for fashion, haha." He then said, "Do you like to go barefoot?" Honestly, at this point I thought I was being a nice person by engaging with a somewhat slow guy, and there were tons of people on the bus. I do like to go barefoot, so I said "yes." He asked again, "Do you like to go barefoot?" And I said, "Yeah, I like to go barefoot sometimes, in the summer." He asked me to repeat myself. I did, thinking he hadn't heard me. The he said, "You like to do what?" I slowly figured out that he was really trying to get me to say the word "barefoot." At this point I was creeped out, so when a seat toward the middle of the bus opened up, I immediately made a beeline for it. Unfortunately, another seat opened up right across the aisle, and he took it. He kept staring at me, repeating the question, trying to get me to say "barefoot," and I could see that he had an erection and was rubbing it through his jeans. I ignored him. Several of the passengers clearly could see what was happening, and kept giving me sympathetic looks, but no one said anything. Inside my head I was thinking, "Should I get off at my stop, or should I wait for him to get off? How come no one is stopping him?" Finally the bus pulled into Belmont and Kimball, and I got off and ran down the stairs, embarrassed and scared that he would follow me down into the L. He didn't.

The worst part is, the very next day, I walked into the Green Eye bar at Western and Homer to meet my boyfriend at the time, who worked there. The FIRST person I saw when I walked in was...Foot Fetishist Man. I approached my boyfriend and said, "Do you know that guy sitting at the end of the bar, closest to the door?" He said, "Yeah, that's Lenny. He's a regular. A little slow, but he's a cool dude." I said, "Um, that's the guy I called you about. The bus masturbator." My boyfriend freaked out and threatened to beat him up, but I told him to cool it.

Now, though, I wish I'd said something. I felt doubly helpless: the other witnesses made me feel like I was imagining things because they didn't react in any way. And, because the guy was obviously slow, I felt like I shouldn't have said or done anything. Just because he was disabled doesn't make what he did acceptable in any way. I should have loudly and clearly said, "Stop masturbating to me. You are sexually harassing me, it's illegal, and I will call the police." The moral of the story: Ladies, speak up for yourselves. I'm still angry about this two years later. And if you ever find yourself talking a guy named Lenny on the bus or at the Green Eye, excuse yourselves and call the cops if necessary.

~Submitted by Sheila