Sometimes being a woman in public feels like an extreme sport, or a matter of life and death. Having lived with it a long time, I’ve personally become a bit numb to the potential dangers of being a woman alone. We simultaneously think about those dangers and compartmentalize them, moving through life with a constant awareness of potential threats in the back of our minds. It’s stressful, but it’s life.
A man on Twitter recently had a window into what that might be like after a woman turned to him when her alarms were going off. Posting under the handle @Wonderbitch82, he told a story about being on a subway platform in the Bronx when he was approached by a total stranger.
“I’m walking to the train a few minutes ago and a woman walked right up to me and gave me a tight hug and whispered quickly, ‘please act like you know me 3 guys are following me for a while,'” he wrote. “I played along then walked her 3 blocks home. What an experience for the both of us.”
I'm walking to the train a few minutes ago and a woman walked right up to me and gave me a tight hug and whispered quickly, "please act like you know me 3 guys are following me for a while" I played along then walked her 3 blocks home. What an experience for the both of us.— 👑 Black Professor 👑 (@Wonderbitch82) February 8, 2020
The gentlemen seemed pretty shaken by the whole experience.
For a moment, he did wonder if the woman was trying to set him up for a mugging or worse, but he saw the men behind her and her desperation was very real. He took her hand and walked her to her building. The woman was very apologetic for inconveniencing him, but he reassured her it was fine. He did admit the whole situation was upsetting.
“I can only imagine how she feels because this shit never happened to me before and I’m a little taken back,” he said. “Sitting back analyzing this have me feeling a way.”
I was walking looking at the debate, at the glance I saw her reaching her hands up, and before I can react she hugged me. After the hug she held my hand as we walked to her building. She apologized for the inconvenience, and I had to tell her it was my pleasure no inconvenience.— 👑 Black Professor 👑 (@Wonderbitch82) February 8, 2020
I can only imagine how she feels because this shit never happened to me before and I'm a little taken back. Inwas just going to my peoples how to chill, and this happened. My friends called out the blue and come through to chill. Sitting back analyzing this have me feeling a way.— 👑 Black Professor 👑 (@Wonderbitch82) February 8, 2020
The story took off on Twitter, and @Wonderbitch82 provided an update. he had gotten the woman’s number, so he called her to check in.
The woman was still incredibly grateful the next day, telling him the men had been following her for some time, and she’d tried to outmaneuver them a few different ways before approaching a smiling stranger. He told her he had experience as a counselor and also with domestic abuse in his family that helped him recognize a serious situation and respond.
He shared how her family was affected by her brush with potential danger as well, writing, “I met her 5-year-old son, who said thank you Mister. I spoke to her mother as well who was thankful for me being there. I told her the offer still stands if she ever need someone to walk her home from the train station. Her mother was definitely grateful, some nights she work late.”
UPDATE— 👑 Black Professor 👑 (@Wonderbitch82) February 8, 2020
I spoke with the woman. She couldn't thank me enough. I also thank her for bringing me into the world of women. Apparently the 3 males was looking at her on the train. When she got off, they got off. They followed her 2 blocks, she then went into a store for a few minutes.
She saw me, and noticed I had a smile on my face looking at my phone and that's when she knew I would welcome her. She apologized, she felt how shock I was at her untiming hug. I told her I thought it was a set up at first, she laughed because she said thatd new york mentality.— 👑 Black Professor 👑 (@Wonderbitch82) February 8, 2020
I met her 5 year old son, who said thank you Mister. I spoke to her mother as well who was thankful for me being there. I told her the offer still stand if she ever need someone to walk her home from the train station. Her mother was definitely grateful, some nights she work late— 👑 Black Professor 👑 (@Wonderbitch82) February 8, 2020
He then admitted that what had really bothered him after was the idea that if he hadn’t helped her, something truly terrible could have happened.
“She said, you’re feeling like this, now imagine what every girl & woman feel like,” he wrote. “She said you’re a good person at least to me for what you did for my family and I. Somewhere, a woman did something good to you, your presence welcoming from that smile I saw from your phone light.”
She said, you're feeling like this, now imagine what every girl & woman feel like. She said you're a good person at least to me for what you did for my family and I. Somewhere, a woman did something good to you, your presence welcoming from that smile I saw feom your phone light.— 👑 Black Professor 👑 (@Wonderbitch82) February 8, 2020
I see we will be cool for a while. I didn't expect this post to touch so many people, I needed to get this emotion out and shared it on my account. This is sad women & girls have to live in this type of fear because us men have created an evironment of toxicity. I will do better.— 👑 Black Professor 👑 (@Wonderbitch82) February 8, 2020
The story went viral, in part because it had a happy ending, but also because of how many people replied saying they’d had almost the exact same situation take place in their lives. Many women commented on times when they were being followed or harassed, and had to approach strangers to ask for help or for them to pretend to be a friend:
Yeah, I was in this situation where I kept seeing the same guy just standing there watching me on my walk home from work. Really disturbing. I started taking another path home it scared me so much.— Helena (@thelastpinkcar) February 8, 2020
A woman tweeted a while ago, “What’s the first thing you would you do, if there were no men in the world? “— It’sJustPat (@PatCorc2019) February 8, 2020
A heartbreaking number of women (me included) replied, “I’d take a walk at night.” 💔
I had this happen to me as well. I kept trying to shake the guy. I finally walked into a café & went straight over to two women sitting at a table. I asked them to act as if they knew me; they didn’t miss a beat, gave me big hugs & bought me coffee. 1/2— San (@sansivera) February 8, 2020
I've done this in Glasgow— Rattlecans (@rattlecans) February 8, 2020
I've latched onto women I've no idea who they are and acted like I knew em *Hiya! Sorry I'm late" while saying "dodgy guy Mrs....please stand wi me at the bus stop... "
And they helped me
The number of times a taxi driver has seen me rattled
Me too, but I looked back and pulled out my phone to call the police and suddenly he stopped following and went the other way.— Helena (@thelastpinkcar) February 8, 2020
He never does anything until he does.— Karen 200mph 🌊 (@K200mph) February 8, 2020
Explained in an undertone what was going on. He linked his arm in mine and smiled and his friend walked with my colleague and pretended to know us. The group behind followed a little way then left - we were so relieved! The gentlemen walked us to our hotel. I was so grateful.— MariaTS (@lariti2) February 8, 2020
It’s exhausting to have to depend on the kindness of strangers to feel safe. The streets should be safe for everyone. But it is nice to know that when you need help, there are people out there who will want to provide it.