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.


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

  1. Why is it so hard to make friendly conversation with a lonely old man? A lot of older people really have no one to talk to, and they look for any opportunity to talk to someone else. I talk to them all the time. Not a problem.

    If you find it such a burden to be polite and civil to others in public, maybe you should be living in the wilderness somewhere.

    Seriously, a GROUP of young girls is actually SCARED when a man just tries to be friendly? Get a grip. Ignoring him was rude. I’m not surprised he was offended.

    But his resorting to racist slurs was without excuse.

    • Nice try. Stop trying to creep on little girls (like my daughters) and make them feel uncomfortable. If you’re an old man (like me) and you want to chat – try to start a conversation with someone your age. I tell my three daughters to avoid old creepy men – it isn’t about being rude – it is about being safe. I suspect that the girls were too polite and civil [or intimidated or uncomfortable] to tell him to stuff it. This is harassment and it is unacceptable.

      • No, it’s about being rude.

        What a sad world you and your daughters must live in if it’s “scary and uncomfortable” simply to make polite conversation to people you don’t know. I feel very sorry for you (and them) if you think being friendly equals trying to “creep on” anyone.

        You need to get a clue before your daughters grow up as screwed up and distrustful as you are. A lot of kids are being taught that only their families are “safe” — which is tragic if you know how many girls are molested by their own fathers, stepfathers, or mother’s boyfriends.

        And you really need to understand that, if someone is old and unattractive, that doesn’t automatically make them “creepy” or “unsafe” — in the same way that someone being young and attractive does not automatically make them safe.

        Kristin French and Leslie Mahaffy were lured to their deaths by Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, largely because they apparently thought a young, attractive, blond and blue-eyed COUPLE would be “safe” for them. They paid for that assumption with their lives.

    • It’s hard for an underage female to make friendly conversation with a lonely old man because it’s difficult to tell the difference between “creepy potential pedophile” and “older man with no ill intentions”. As we’ve seen on this blog, some of the most traumatic incidents of harassment start out innocently enough. And besides, Mr. Graydon, you weren’t on the bus at the time, so you don’t know for sure if he was a creep or not. As I learned in The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker (personal security expert), first impressions – *especially* those of children – are often the most accurate. Those initial “eww!” reactions are the result of our intuition warning us of potential danger. Our society all too often minimizes these reactions by saying, “awww, but he was just trying to be nice!” and thus invalidates the basic protective instincts that children are born with. Obviously, this radar isn’t 100% accurate – as you’ve pointed out in the tragic cases of the Bernardo murders (I wonder if he seemed creepy at any point to anybody) – but it’s better than nothing. An alarm that goes off falsely 10% of the time is still a darned good piece of technology.

      I have a depressingly lonely uncle. When he’s not verbally abusing his family, he’s out and about trying to make friendly conversation with girls/women who are on the young side. Although he has NEVER behaved inappropriately with children, his behavior is still socially inappropriate and we have to remind him of this. Luckily, nobody’s ever filed any complaints against him.

    • I understand what you’re saying John, and a casual conversation with a friendly stranger would never be an issue in an ideal world. However, given this older man was approaching a group of underage girls late at night and commenting on how attractive he finds them, I have my doubts that he was just trying to make conversation. As a woman, I sympathize with them being frightened, they just wanted to avoid an altercation – which they were unable to do due to this man’s persistence.

      In a confined space people need to be aware of an individual’s right to personal space. No one should be subjected to conversation if they politely decline.

      I know that Vancouver has a reputation for unfriendly women who are unwilling to engage in any sort of small talk, but we should consider what the root of that problem is. I’m glad that this project is opening up discussion for a deeper understanding of these issues from both sexes.

  2. Hi guys!

    John – I agree that often some classist and/or ageist assumptions come into play when people decide to avoid engaging in conversation with people in public places. Furthermore, we have many social conventions about how and when to make conversation with strangers (especially in large urban centers), and it is not necessarily a bad thing for those conventions to be shaken up from time to time. People need to connect.

    However, what I think is important in this story is the implicit disregard for the girls’ comfort levels and the reality that in this situation, their comfort levels may be more sensitive due to the fact that they are young women traveling in a confined space in which they cannot easily negotiate their own safety. What I think is important about this blog is that it is encouraging us all to be aware of the broader, systemic reasons that people may be made to feel unsafe on transit.

    In a perfect world, making conversation with a “lonely” or “unattractive” (by conventional standards) older man on a bus would be a great thing to be able to do. But in reality, as this blog shows, there are many compounding factors that make people feel unsafe to engage in these kinds of friendly gestures. The fact that conversation is often (implicitly or explicitly) DEMANDED in these situations, and that there are clear and threatening (often racist, sexist, hateful) reactions to enforcing your own boundaries are just some of the many reasons why people might feel uncomfortable engaging in conversation with strangers. I think it’s important to be aware of this, while negotiating your OWN boundaries, and perhaps attempting to go outside of your comfort zone once in a while.

    Y’know what I’m sayin? ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. @John where has the story said the man was old or unattractive? He said middle-aged and disheveled. Big difference. And I’m sorry, but I’m not going to err on the side of good when his response was to call the other person a “chink.” If that’s your first reaction, then I’m pretty sure you’re a shitty person.

    AND if all he wanted was to have a nice conversation, don’t start by asking YOUNG GIRLS where they are going and calling them beautiful.

    Lastly, it’s not my responsibility to make you feel good by talking to you. Sure, there’s such a thing called “politeness” and I try my best to always be polite, but I’m not on the bus to make friends, I’m on the bus to get somewhere, and if I don’t feel comfortable talking to you, that’s it, that doesn’t give you the right to pester me. Unacceptable.

    Thank you to the person who told this story and stood up for them. We need more of you out there.

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