Overseen

This was not harassment directed at me, but rather something I witnessed on the #20 bus on Commercial Drive a few years ago.

It was evening rush hour and the Northbound bus leaving Broadway Station was absolutely packed. There were two young high school girls standing towards the back, aged maybe 12-14. An older, white-haired man was staring at them very intensely. They looked uncomfortable, and moved away from him.

He followed them.

They moved again; he followed them again, and stood far too close, openly leering at them.

I and some of the others around me, all of us women late 20s and up, noticed. I got in between them and him, as did another woman who’d been standing next to me; another woman started yelling at passengers closer to the front of the bus to tell the driver to stop the bus and get back here; another woman started yelling directly at the old man to leave the girls alone. I asked the girls where they were planning to get off, and offered to walk them from the stop to their destination – but the old man jumped off and ran away at the next stop, and they were planning to be on the bus for another 10 blocks and said they didn’t need any more help. They looked seriously freaked out.

The driver never did stop the bus and come back to help out – not sure if the message just wasn’t passed forward to him, or if he heard it and kept driving. But it was heartening to see how many people noticed what was going on and stepped up to help, even it was disappointing that it was all women who helped, while the guys around us just watched silently.

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