One of my first memories happened at a bible studies class when I was only three or four. The instructor made us all stand up and then had one of the boys lie on the ground. She then told us all to walk over him. After all of us followed her orders she had us do it again except this time she whispered in one of the other kid’s ear and told the kid to help the boy up off the ground. The instructor then went into this whole discourse about Jesus. She said something like, “unlike the rest of you, so-in-so has Jesus in her heart because she was willing to help up this complete stranger.”
I was like excuse me? We are all children here doing what we’re told. How were we to know it was some secret lesson about helping the misfortunate? She doesn’t have Jesus anymore in her heart than the rest of us. Lady, you whispered those instructions to her.
The moral of the story was to do as Jesus would do and help those in need.
Perhaps when the town population is less than a hundred helping those in need isn’t as dramatic. Because seriously, fast-forward 25 years later and welcome to the reality of city life.
I have been taught two important techniques for walking in a city.
The first involves sidewalk etiquette. You know, when people are walking side-by-side taking up your path, the trick is to never make eye contact and walk swiftly, this makes the others person move out of your way. It seriously works like 98% of the time.
The other involves safety, which is to prevent someone from attacking you, particularly in that sexual assault type of way. It’s vital to walk with confidence. So, walk at a moderate to fast (but not too fast pace) with your head held high.
Last night I had just gone with a good friend to watch a viewing of the 1996 movie about high school witches called The Craft. We went to have a beer after and by the time the drinking was over it was quite dark out, cold and misting. Witchy weather.
In any case, she lived the other way and thus we parted directions toward our homes, mine being roughly six blocks away. Not even a block later this random older white man came at me diagonally across a parking lot. He started talking to me. Asking me if he could borrow my phone to call his wife.
Every time I am hassled by homeless people on the street I get a flashback to that bible studies class. Part of me wants to trust people, to be able to help them in need and then the other part of me understands that if I do, I could easily be robbed or murdered.
So, I told him I couldn’t help.
He then goes into this angry rant, screaming, “what’s wrong with everyone!” “Why can’t anyone be a decent human being?” And then, of course, he ends his rant with, “fucking bitch.”
I had beer in me.
I had spellbound angst-y teenage nostalgia running through my blood.
“Fuck off!” I said.
Because that’s what I really wanted to say.
What kind of guy thinks its okay to come at a random woman in the middle of the night while it’s raining and expects her not to feel threatened? Obviously with that kind of ranting attitude he probably wasn’t up to much good. He probably didn’t even have a wife and if he does I feel really sorry for her.
But I will say after that came out of my mouth I was so fucking freaked out. I thought he was going to come after me. I thought he might try to kill me, because that’s what crazy people do to people who insult them.
Then I got pissed. Like, why the fuck can’t I walk home by myself and not be harassed? Why do I have to feel so scared at night? Why can’t I just go out for a couple of hours and be able to get back to my place of residence without an escort? Why do I still sort of feel bad for not letting him use my phone even though I know he probably would have stole it and my purse, and then punched me in the face? Why am I the one who’s “the bitch” here?
So I suppose the question should be, what would Jesus do, if Jesus were a woman living in a city in 2013?