The Bard of the Bicep

I was taking the bus home from tea with a friend. I was sitting in a paired seat, alone, listening to music and texting.
This strange old man in his 60’s sat next to me, and then tapped my ankle.
Assuming this was a somewhat inept gesture to inform me that I was taking too much space, I shuffled further into my corner. He tapped me again. Certain that I was not at fault, I looked at him. Perhaps there was some other problem.
He pulled off my ear phones and began telling me about how he works out. I ignored him and continued my conversation with my sister.
He grabbed my hands and put them on his bicep. Then he recited “erotic” poetry to me, kissing my hands until I ran off the bus.

This is one in a series of many bus harassment stories.

And Sleazy Makes Three? (18/f)

My girlfriend and I were waiting for the 16 downtown on a Friday night around 10.30. We’re both 18 and my girlfriend looks a little younger. We were huddled together because it was cold and we’d been standing there for close to twenty minutes when we noticed a strange guy in his late 20’s shaved hair and about 5’9 walked towards us. He was well dressed in a dark suit so at first we thought nothing of it until he walked straight up to us put a hand on either of our arms and smiled and said with a scary look in his eyes ‘beautiful’. I glared and he walked a little distance away, my girlfriend and I stood slightly apart and moved closer towards the stop. Thankfully the bus came soon after but the man followed us onto the bus. He sat directly in front of us and leaned in far too close and stared at my girlfriend as she talked on the phone. I could tell something was off about him so when he was turned away I got my girlfriend up and we moved to the back of the bus. We tried to sit at the back of the bus (which was very crowded) and he moved to follow us. He sat next to my girlfriend and said ‘Come back to my condo with me, I can make you both comfortable.’ We both sternly replied no but he continued even offering to pay for a cab back. At this point took out my phone and texted my dad asking him to meet us at the bus stop at Victoria and Hastings. I feared the guy would follow us off the bus and the area is not very well lit and right next to a large school and playing field. Luckily the guy caught on to what I was doing and several other passengers were observing him and he got off the bus a few stops before us. It was so unnerving that he had absolutely no fear in attempting to get two young girls to come home with him even on a crowded bus!

Thugs and Glugs

This didn’t happen to me but its something I observed and have seen before. It was the middle of the day, on Wednesday I think..some weekday at a time when most people would be working anyway. At Lougheed station these two drunken idiots got onto my train car – it was the quintessential case of alpha and beta male, where one guy was taller, more aggressive, etc. and the other was smaller and sort of following and learning from his drunken master. Anyway as the train left they pulled out a 2-6 of vodka and started plowing through it straight, one would have a go then hand it over to the other… in thirty seconds the two of them finished the remaining half bottle before throwing the empty bottle in a corner of the car. The leader of the troop then sat across from an attractive woman listening to music and minding her own business.. he started hitting on her while his friend sat behind him for moral support. Production was my station so I got off and the first train attendant I saw I told them “you need police on that train five minutes ago” and they said the train would be intercepted shortly…so that made me feel better. Anyway, if either of you two idiots ever reads this (assuming you can in fact read): Idiot #2 ..don’t try being like Idiot #1, it doesn’t make you look cool in any way. And Idiot #1, get help, and re-evaluate your life.. Wednesday at 3pm is no time to be wasted on the skytrain.

Driver Dilligence (19/f)

I see a lot of these stories where the transit driver did nothing in cases of abuse and harassment, or transit cops did nothing. I do have one story where a transit driver did do something and maybe he could be a model for hope. This happened almost 15 years ago when I was an undergrad student at UBC, I think I was about 19. My female friend and I lived on campus but we loved hanging out and dancing all night at the goth and metal bars downtown so we frequently took the very last bus from downtown back to UBC by ourselves. There were two drivers who had that route at night. One very grumpy who didn’t like us or the way we looked and one who was very friendly and always watched out for us. Because we looked pretty weird since we were goths, and were usually in a large pack of friends who waited for the bus with us to make sure we got on safe we didn’t have too much sexual harassment happen to us (all though we did have other kinds of harassment because we were unusual looking) but this night a strange man followed us on to the bus. Luckily it was the friendly driver driving that night and he really didn’t like the way this man was leering at us. We were a little oblivious, too busy chatting at each other (no, we were not drunk and rarely drank/did drugs in those days even though we spent a lot of time in bars, not that a woman’s intoxication should ever be an invitation for sexual harassment). The driver called out to us to come and sit behind him, explained that he didn’t like the look of this guy and called campus security to pick us up and take us to our dorm once we reached the UBC bus loop.  That driver may have saved our asses that night and we got home safe due to his vigilance.

What’s the Matter with Kids Today? (Oh, they don’t want to talk to creepy old dudes!) (17/f)

I was on my way home from a bonfire one night. It was around midnight, but since it was a Friday, there were a lot of people taking the bus from Ambleside back to their homes. I was standing on a crowded bus when a group of 3, 4 girls who looked like they couldn’t be older than 16 came on the bus and then stood near me. There was a middle-aged, rather dishevelled looking man sitting in front of them who seemed to be checking the girls out. After a little while, he started talking to them. He said something along the lines of “Where’s a group of pretty young ladies like you heading off to this late at night?” and the girls seemed very uncomfortable and didn’t respond. He kept pestering them with questions, eventually saying, “Stop ignoring me, I’m just trying to have a conversation with you girls.”
I ended up telling him to back off because the girls were obviously too scared to do so (but he didn’t sound like he was going to back off any time soon without any prompt), and he started to verbally attack me, calling me racial slurs like “slant-eyes” and “chink” and eventually, another middle-aged man said, “Enough,” and the man grumbled about “stupid teens these days” and got off at the next stop.

Staring Contest

Once when I was 16, I was riding the 319 with my girlfriend. A man started talking to us, and when he realized that we were a couple, got increasingly creepy, eventually telling us how he would like to take us home with him and fuck us.

When I was 17, I was riding the skytrain and a man sat down next to me, even though there were many other seats available. When he took off his jacket, he brushed my thigh. I thought it was an accident so I ignored it. Then he presented to adjust him pants, and brushed his hand against my thigh again. This time his hand lingered and I was pretty sure it wasn’t an accident, but I was really nervous and scared so I didn’t say anything. Then he put his hand directly on my thigh. We were pulling into another stop, so I ran off the train and switched cars. I was too shaken to say anything.

I am now 23. This summer, I was riding the bus home from a wedding with my girlfriend. She is a transgender woman, and I am a cisgender woman. We were both dressed to the nines, and it was about 11:30. A man in the seat across from us kept staring at us intensely. I looked directly at him multiple time and made eye contact but he kept staring. After making eye contact with him for the fourth or fifth time, a sneer spread across this face. We were both quite frightened and didn’t know how he would react if we asked him to stop staring, since the look on his face was hard to read- it looked like he could be easily incited to violence. Since my partner is trans, this is even more threatening. We didn’t know if he was leering at us as a lesbian couple, or at my partner as a trans woman. As we left the bus, he leaned over to stare at us as we left, and continued craning his neck to stare at us as we walked towards the station. We were worried he would follow us. He didn’t stop staring at us for the entire 40 minute bus ride. He didn’t touch us or say anything, but it was still incredibly frightening.

Masked Harassment

The Saturday before Halloween I was with my friends on the skytrain, on our way to a restaurant. A group of drunken young men, wearing heavy costume makeup were being disruptive, and a general nuisance to everyone on the train. One of them walked up to me and stuck his crotch near my face and started pelvis thrusting. I told him to stop and he laughed and walked away. When we got off at our stop I told the transit security, but instead of taking me seriously, she told me and another woman complaining, to calm down. The transit security did absolutely nothing about the problem letting the drunken men who also got off at the same stop, walk past us and off of the platform. It seems as if during Halloween, people can get away with the most ludicrous behaviour just because they are hiding behind a mask or makeup.