Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The fear factor (or, no, this post is not about Joe Rogan)

The ability of fear to control me is a bit of a sore spot at the moment.


As mentioned before, I like to consider myself reasonably independent. I live alone, and, while I'm cautious, I'm generally free from the catastrophic fears that apparently plague women residing by themselves (e.g., every sound is a burglar), other than the eight-legged kind. I work with criminals and the mentally ill without massive catastrophizing. My neuroses and ruminations tend to stick to the fairly everyday realm.

However, it is funny how quickly that all can change-- especially ironically when in my last week of living alone.

I was out late tonight at an end of semester potluck on campus (a bunch of clinical psychology students and profs watching and overanalyzing "In Treatment" = awesome). On the bus ride home, a classmate and I were seated near the back of the bus, chatting about something mundane in the realm of course selection. Suddenly, from the front of the bus, a man turns around, and starts frantically shushing me. I meet his eyes, confused, as there are a number of other people yammering away. The eyes staring back at me are angry, and profanities start coming from his mouth, indecipherable, but definitively directed at me. As he turns back to face the front window, several other bus riders meet my eye, looking as confused and concerned as I am. I am too frightened to get off the bus and begin my 5 block walk home without him leaving first. Oddly, he gets off at my stop, and I stay on for two extra stops, preferring a longer walk to another chance encounter with this fellow with an inexplicable disdain for me.

As I paced home, eyes open to every dash of movement, forcing my guy to remain on the phone with me and listen to my breath until I made it through my front doorway, it occurred to me how much power was in than less than a minute interaction. I'd gone from feeling confident to afraid in the period of a moment. And I find that, and the fact that I'm still feeling more chilled than normal in my own home, absolutely infuriating.

30 comments:

Melissa said...

That's so strange. Weird!

Ashley said...

Wow that is so creepy. I'd have probably peed my pants. I know, I'm hot. Glad you are safe!

Sorry I've been so MIA, i've missed you!

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

The answer is Mace. Or a leopard skin Taser.

Glad you made it back.

Hope said...

I get so angry when someone makes me feel that afraid. And for absolutely no reason.

Very strange.

Holly said...

When I lived alone, I never got scared or thought my safety was in jeopardy, however, I was petrified to walk alone at night--I lived in the middle of a small city, but because the city was small and all of the stuff to do was in one area which just happened to be right what I lived in the middle of, it wasn't too safe of a place.

Ant said...

That isn't blind fear - that's a very healthy sense of self-preservation.

The fact that you're alert to such split-second interactions is a fantastic gift (I know many who aren't and have paid high prices as a result...)

Arielle said...

I think there's nothing wrong with being a little over-paranoid every so often. That is definitely kind of freaky and it's always better to be cautious. I think you were totally within reason and not on the edge of typical female overreacting.

Deutlich said...

As infuriating as it is - it's always better to be safe than sorry. It just sucks a whole lot that someone put that kind of fear in you -- and trust me, I KNOW that feeling. Too well.

DC has a hogwash of .. interesting people and I've been in neighborhoods I should never have set foot in.

Gah.

Nilsa S. said...

Don't you feel violated. Like this person. This absolute stranger. Has invaded your personal space? It's totally unfair, but an unfortunate fact of life. The ability for us to affect others. We all carry it. It's how we use it that matters.

the frog princess said...

As much as it may suck, moments like this are one of the prices we pay for living in cities.

My neighborhood is fairly safe, so far as low-rent Brooklyn goes, and normally I have no qualms walking home after dark--I live one block from the subway! But one night a guy ahead of me on the stairs gave me a 2-second backward glance that for some reason completely freaked me out, and I walked home with my keys poking through my knuckles like a weapon, alert to every footfall on my quiet street.

So yeah, sure that pounding-heart, shallow-breathing, oh-my-god-what-is-going-to-happen-to-me feeling may not be pleasant, but it's probably what prevents anything from happening in the first place.

I am rambling.

Sorry you had a scare, kiddo! Glad you're home safe! Hey, soon you'll just be able to call The Duke and say "honey, come meet me at the buss station and scare away the crazies..." :)

A Margarita said...

Beware the crazies, there's no telling what they can do. I'd say that fear is a good thing because it makes you cautious.

lspoon said...

Oh goodness that is frightening. I don't blame you for taking the longer ride and walk!

PrincessB said...

Oh, the bus is full of creepy people. You did the right thing. I hate when circumstance dictates my actions as well, but sometimes that's the way it is.

Psychgrad said...

I agree with Ant. Better to be safe.

Mind you, my neuroses are probably at the high end of the everyday realm. I walk around with a personal alarm in my pocket and a whistle on my keychain.

rs27 said...

Joe Rogan would have made you eat a 10,000 year old egg and then you would have had to walk homoe with the creepy dude.

Joe Rogan hates everyone.

distractedspunk said...

I'm just glad you didn't get off at your usual stop.

Jenn said...

I don't think I would have gotten off at my original stop either. I'd definitely make someone stay on the phone with me as I walked as well.

Surfergrrl said...

I would say fear sometimes really does serve a purpose. It alerts you to danger and you should always listen to that inner voice, even if you "might" appear rude or out of line. Better safe than sorry. There is a reason fear exists. And most of us hate the 8-legged monsters. :)

Jamie Lovely said...

Very scary. I always get nervous walking around alone.

Also, so excited to meet you :)

Katelin said...

Oh man that is seriously creepy. I hate things like that.

Essentially Me said...

That's horrible! I'm glad you were with a friend on the bus when that happened and talked to the Duke until you were home safe and sound.

Stephanie said...

I've had this happen to me before - not the crazy screaming, but the gut wrenching fear of someone in public and again in your home. I had a creepy guy (he was even wearing a ski mask - NO JOKE) try and talk to me at a bus station on the west side of the city, then get on my bus, then get off at my stop, then walk just past my apartment door! Scary.

Glad you're okay though!

Alexa said...

i once saw joe rogan do stand up... so obnoxious!

and that dude?

creepy!

nicoleantoinette said...

I'm exactly like this. It was especially bad when I was living in NYC.

captain corky said...

I'm glad you had the good sense to get off a couple of stops later. Better safe than sorry.

Crime alerts are issued weekly where my wife goes to school and I hate when she walks alone to her car late at night.

brookem said...

I hate that too. How something so small (yet none the less very meaningful), can cause such a reaction in us.

Hope you never see that creep again.

Michelle & the City said...

probably a good idea to walk the extra blocks. glad your man talked you thru that. scary!

Crushed said...

And he wasn't drunk?

Maybe he thought you were the voices in his head...

eric1313 said...

Fear turns to anger, and anger leads to the darkside.

Sorry, your final sentence inspired that!

But I don't blame you for fearing after an incident like that one. We hear about horrible crimes so often, and they do happen to people and nobody deserve it. And I know you know that, and this spiel probably isn't helping much, but I like Toast's advice. Weaponry of some fashion.

The Pointful Warrior Princess! Then we'd all feel safe!

And to tell the truth, I was afraid for you while reading this!

You described to us a severely ill person who understands that you are in the psych field--or that's what it sounds like to me.

eric1313 said...

Please keep being carefull!

And I'm sorry I disapear so much lately. But it's awesome to be back and you know I dig your all your posts.

I'll keep in touch with you though, no matter what, OK?

I'm hoping for a wild Friday night for you, spent in the arms of love. You deserve a good weekend after this crud.