- 10 months ago
I normally walk to work, it is about a 30 minute walk around a lake. It is in a fairly nice and safe area (lots of people walking and biking, out with families, etc.), although there a lot of people without homes around.
About 5 min from my work, I have to cross through a large underpass. The sidewalk is easily 10 feet wide on both sides of the road, and people will frequently sleep here. It is a fairly busy area (lots of stores, movie theaters, library, shopping areas on both sides), with large groups of people walking through consistently.
Yesterday morning, I encountered someone who was standing up, rolling up their sleeping bag. I was about 15 feet down, and at least 8ft or so across from where they were. Normally I wear sunglasses and keep my head down at my phone, but the sun wasn’t shining brightly yet, so I wasn’t wearing my sunglasses, and had looked up from my phone.
I could have sworn she (I’m assuming the person was female, hard to tell) smiled at me. I’m the type of person who has read that people living on the streets just want to feel part of society, hate being ignored, etc, so, I smiled back and said good morning (as I was walking by, I didn’t stop).
I had probably walked about 10 or so feet past her, when all the sudden she starts SCREAMING at me (can’t remember exact phrases, something like this). “Don’t you f’n laugh at me! Don’t you f’n laugh at me you b****! I’m gonna make you my b**** you f’n b****! I’m going to get you!”
I started walking a bit faster, then slowed down, as the screaming died out and seemed to stop. I glanced back, and noticed that she was walking after me (had followed me about 10 feet or so). I started walking faster now, and she started screaming and threatening me again. When I reached the corner to cross the road, and was waiting with a large group of people, I didn’t hear or see her anymore. I assumed she went retreated and went back to her stuff, and that was the end of it.
I continued to work, walking about 4 more blocks down the road. Glanced back a couple times, didn’t see her. I’m waiting to cross the street to get to my work, and all the sudden I hear her screaming again. I look in the direction of where the screaming is coming from, and she is RUNNING down the road, screaming at me and screaming threats. She was easily less than 30 feet away. I was about a minute from my work, so I ran across the road illegally, and sprinted to work full speed. I didn’t look back, but it sounded like she was still running after me, and was getting closer.
I ran inside my work, and told the front desk people what happened, in case she came inside. Our office has blinds covering all the windows, so you can’t see the inside from the street. I went straight to the back to clock in, started my shift, and didn’t look to see if she was out there or not. I was pretty shooken up, so I just wanted to start work and move on.
Normally I walk home as well, but I got a ride that evening.
Today, I went to take my dog on a walk. When we reached the lake, a lady who I think was homeless intensely stared at me (I didn’t look at her at all, I was just walking the direction where she was on the sidewalk) and made me feel really uncomfortable. My whole walk, I felt so scared and on edge the entire time. There were families and people walking around all around, it really is a safe area. A man in a wheel chair side hello to my dog as we walked by, and I felt so nervous. When we reached our large grassy off-leash spot, I started getting teary-eyed and panicking because I felt so vulnerable. I just wanted to sit with my back against the wall so I could feel safer. Normally I run around with her, but I was so panicky I just wanted to stand with my back against something.
Walking is my normal way of getting around, and I am so anxious now to leave my home and to walk to work tomorrow. I think had the lady not stared at me while I was walking my dog this afternoon, I would have been less upset by it all.
To answer the inevitable questions- no I don’t carry pepper spray but I know I should and plan to get some. Two, I was contemplating calling the police, but none of my coworkers made it seem like it was that big of a deal, so I didn’t. Three, I can’t change my walking route without adding at least 10-15 minutes to my walk. I am going to walk on the opposite side of the road though, and plan it so I cross with large groups and avoid looking or talking to anyone. Four, I’m looking into self-defense classes for women.
Living in metro areas and walking a lot, I’m used to randomly being screamed and yelled at by unstable people on the street. I can brush that off easily. I’ve had people follow me for a few feet while shouting threatening things, but then stopping. It is the fact that I was followed for such a great distance without knowing it, that makes me feel on edge now. I don’t feel safe.