Harassment via Loud Speaker! A Novel Experience!

19 Nov

What follows is a rant.  So, consider yourself warned.*

As I have mentioned before, I enjoy running.  I love that it allows me to move my body. I love that I get to clear my mind.  I love that, as a four-season runner, I get outdoors on days when I normally would cower inside, wrapped tightly in my house sweater.  (Yes, I am aware that the fact that I have a “house sweater” makes me sound old.)  Perhaps most of all, I love that when I go out for a run I leave all technology behind.  Well, okay, that is not entirely true.  Sometimes I bring a podcast with me but that is only on days when I run over 13 miles.  Aching hips and the monotony of repeated running routes can spell the premature end of a specific workout and can, if repeated weekly, make the race I am training for terribly uncomfortable.  Believe me, I know.  And so, on those high mileage days, I allow myself a slight distraction.  Normally, though, I find the freedom from technology and the ability to take in the sights and the sounds of my neighborhood a perk to my running habit.

Today was no different.  I am just starting the process of training for the Manhattan Half Marathon at the end of January.  Yes, January.  In Central Park.  Sadly, this will not be my first time being stupid enough to run this race.  I am actually embarrassed to say that a few years ago when I ran it the temperature at the start was something like 13 degrees with a real feel of like, 5.  For the entire first loop of the park my feet were so cold they had gone numb and I literally felt like I was running on planks of wood.  It was absolutely terrible.  And yet I registered for it again.  Like a moron.  So I headed out of my house for an 8-9 mile training run, abandoning my phone on my bed.  I made my way up and around the cemetery and then, on Fort Hamilton Avenue, I experienced what was perhaps the worst case of street harassment directed at me ever in my life.  Well, it’s tied with that time the food delivery guy grabbed my ass like three houses up from my front door.  So there I was, minding my own business, enjoying the fall colors and the weird car-repair place that looks like an old-school drive-in restaurant with those girls that deliver the food on roller skates, when I heard, from what sounded like an intercom,

“Can I eat you down there, honey?”

Wait, what?  I stopped running.  I honestly could not believe that what I thought I heard was actually what I heard.  I looked around, saw an out of service MTA bus, the driver staring at me.  And then, just as I began to run again, thinking my ears must have deceived me it happened again.

“Can I eat you down there, honey?”

I turned around.  Through the haze of my anger the only thing I thought was that it must have been coming from the bus.  I took note of the time, the bus number, the cross streets.  I thought about whether or not I could give a description of the driver.  I hyperventilated.  Running when you are insanely angry and feeling violated and kind of afraid is no easy task.  I rehashed what happened again and again in my mind for the next mile until I convinced myself to let it go and think about something else.  Without a phone I couldn’t report it right then and I couldn’t snap a photograph.  I did, however, check my memory of the bus number every 5 minutes or so to make sure that when I made the report, which I was most definitely going to do, I would have all the details correct.  So I enjoyed the rest of my run as best I could, which was actually made easier by the fact that the park is one of my safe spaces.  I am always, always happy in the park.  If there comes a day when I am unhappy in the park, I will move away and not look back.

I arrived home and immediately went online to find the number to report complaints about MTA subways and buses.  511, in case you were curious.  I called and, after going through a whole lot of different menu options, I was connected with an extremely unhelpful lady.  The conversation went as follows:

Me: Hi. So I would like to file a complaint but I first am wondering whether or not it is possible for MTA bus drivers to make announcements on some sort of outside speaker.
Lady, snottily:  Well, why would you want the inside announcements to be heard outside?
Me:  Well, I wouldn’t, which is actually part of why I am calling. I just don’t want to make a complaint against someone and have them get in trouble for something that it is not possible for them to have done.
Lady:  So tell me the complaint and I will let you know.

I relayed my story to her.  She laughed.  Asshole.

Lady:  Well, I just can’t imagine anyone would say something like that.
Me: Yea, I couldn’t either until someone said it to me. So you can imagine why I would want to report this person.
Lady: Hold on.

I was then on hold for like 5 minutes while she did some combination of the following things: continued laughing, told all her friends about what I had told her, pretended she was doing something when actually she was just sitting there playing Candy Crush on her phone, or sought out a supervisor or bus-knowledge-haver to find out whether it was possible to make outside announcements.  She came back.

Lady:  It’s not possible.  Anything else?
Me:  No.  Thanks for your compassion.

It occurred to me that maybe the lady on the phone was lying.  I don’t know why she would do it but I thought it possible.  I hung up the phone and immediately posted on Facebook the following message which some of you may have seen:

Does anyone know whether MTA drivers have the ability to make announcements that can be heard outside the bus?

I received the following message from my friend Kevin which was so funny that it almost made the whole experience  worth having:

Does anyone know whether MTA drivers have the ability to make announcements that can be heard outside their heads?

Anyway, the whole experience sucked.  And it sucked even more because I was so convinced that it was the MTA bus that I didn’t look around for vehicles like cop cars and tow trucks that would be more likely to have outdoor speakers.  But also, it’s like, fuck you.  Who does that?!  Who makes sexually explicit comments to someone running over their fucking intercom?!  It’s like, let me broadcast that I am completely devoid of a moral compass.  Let me express my manhood by publicly making this woman feel entirely disempowered.  I hope someone sticks a nail in all his tires, breaks his speakers, and kicks him in the nuts.  Not necessarily in that order.

*That was really for you, Dad, since I know how much you love the rants. 🙂

2 Responses to “Harassment via Loud Speaker! A Novel Experience!”

  1. Jody Frank December 27, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    I reread this one and am growing fond of the rants now that you have called me out on it.
    Love Daaaad

    • FranklyRebekah December 27, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

      Persistence. It really works! Love you, Daaaaaad

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