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[personal profile] d_aulnoy
I just came closer to using my pepper spray than I have in over 15 years of carrying it.  Including, btw, the time I decided to walk home at four in the morning, realized that I'd been hearing the same footsteps behind me for the last three blocks, and decided to jog the last half-block ... only to hear the footsteps speed up to a flat-out run behind me.  Happily, I hit the door before they caught up. 

So, what happened tonight?

As I was walking home from the subway, I saw a man and a woman arguing on the corner outside a bar.  Okay, cool, business as usual for the UWS on a Saturday night.  And then I heard footsteps on the other side of the street ... a woman's, in the rapid staccato of a gal in heels trying to get somewhere fast.  The heels were accompanied by shouts: "No!" and "Get away from me!" and "I'm not ready for you to do that!" and "I'll call the cops."  All delivered in a loud, powerful, serious tone, to a guy who was keeping two to five steps behind her, stumbling once in a while but not badly, and periodically trying to grab or hug her while speaking in a tone I couldn't catch.

Overly importunate random acquaintance?  Bad blind date?  Boyfriend discovered cheating?  I honestly couldn't tell, and past a certain point, I sort of didn't care: if you're making somebody shout like that, you're doing something wrong.  

So I crossed the street and asked her if she needed help.  Phone in one hand, pepper spray in the other (in my pocket, 'cause, hey, escalation).  She said no ... a little hesitantly, so I asked again.  Hey, I'll call the cops, I'll pepper spray him if there's an immediate risk, whatever.  At which point, dude is outraged.  He would love me to call the cops.  Do I know how often they've had cause for domestic violence complaints because of her?  

Do I believe him?  Not necessarily, because I think he was a douche ... not because of his Preppie-Killer-chic popped collar, but because he didn't think it was a big deal to get his female companion shouting in public.  Even if she's the most histrionic person in the world, we're all responsible for our own actions, and if you follow someone who's upset and telling you to go away, you're throwing fuel on the fire, and more so by repeatedly touching them when they tell you not to.  And, oh, yeah, you're doing an awesome impersonation of an abusive partner in the process.

After a couple of queries, I walked away, because she genuinely seemed to know him and to not want cops, mace, or a stranger involved.  I hope that was the right choice, and that she's okay.  But PSA to all y'all: if it feels like a bad scene, it probably looks like a bad scene, and I think (hope?) that post Kitty Genoese, you're going to get some attention.  

Knowing when to walk away is apparently a lost art.  The lady did: the dude didn't, so, in my head, he's the bad guy.  He's that bad guy.  Don't be That Guy, folks: to quote Tomato Nation, nobody likes that guy.

P.S. - In retrospect, I do feel guilty about interfering.  But I would have felt guiltier if I didn't, y'know?

Date: 2011-03-13 03:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rm.livejournal.com
I think you did the right thing. I once had to call the cops on a guy choking his girlfriend against the wall of the liquor store across the street from my place in the East Village. She didn't want me to call either, but dude.

Date: 2011-03-13 03:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sinboy.livejournal.com
I think you did the right thing. The minute someone says "no" and "get away from me" and that person doesn't, they're the one in the wrong as far as I'm concerned.

Date: 2011-03-13 08:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] msmsgirl.livejournal.com
I know, right?! I have embarrassed myself enough times that I was NOT (*not*) embarrassed, by shouting "HEY, SHE SAID STOP IT! HEY, ARE YOU OKAY?!" here in my neighborhood -- because college kids are stuuuupid! And, as I told my husband when he thought I was being over-reactive -- I am a teacher at a school in this neighborhood, and a resident of this neighborhood; if somebody is being that vocally and blatantly abusive on the streets of this neighborhood, it is kind of my business. Even if they were "just joking," I WANT them to be embarrassed; I want them to see that that is not ok behavior.

However, I have also called the cops on arguing couples without going near them or confronting them, when it looked bad enough. That was downtown. I too pray that post Kitty Genovese, we all would do something.

Date: 2011-03-13 09:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lapsedmodernist.livejournal.com
I think you have nothing ashamed of. You did exacly the right thing. It's female solidarity at its best, and just the decent thing to do, regardless of gender.

Date: 2011-03-13 07:32 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-03-13 12:11 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I think you did the right thing - once my dad and I were taking the cat to the vet, and we saw a car pulled over and a woman struggling to get out of it. Daddy pulled over, stuck his arm out the window with the cell phone (in the days when cell phones were enormous and hard to miss)and hollered, "Miss, do you want me to call the police for you?"

The woman got away from the car and ran up to us, and we gave her a ride up to the vet's.

I never did hear what was going on, but I hope she's okay now, too.

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