After I’d had all the fun with the guys, I headed back to my hotel.
And this is such a teeny tiny story and not even reeeeally anything to be proud about, but since I’m a little proud, I’m telling it!
As I turned off the safe, welcoming street out of the Gay Village, I had some guys catcalling me, yelling about my butt and boobs and whatever. (I will say, I’d never heard, “I’d like to lick your fanny!” in America. So, catcalling is slightly different. Fun.)
Anyway, as I got away from those guys a bit, I thought I was home-free and a man across the street called out, “Are you okay?”
(First off, apparently in England, this phrase doesn’t actually mean some version of “Are you in trouble?” It sometimes means simply, “Can I help you?” (They asked it when I ordered food, checked in at a hotel, etc. And when I asked, I learned it’s a bit of a catch-all phrase in England.) But at this point, I didn’t know that yet. And I thought he was asking with concern…)
And I get it. I’m just some girl, alone, after midnight, walking around, probably even looking a little lost. So, he asks, “Are you okay?” I appreciate the concern, but I’m fine. And I say that. “Oh, I’m fine thanks.” And I keep walking. Then he tells me to “wait!” I look back to make sure everything is fine with him. And I haven’t dropped anything. No reason to wait, so I keep moving forward.
“Wait!” He yells again. I ask if he’s okay. He says yeah, but wait. I shake my head no and keep going. He then runs over to my side of the street and tries to strike up a conversation. I say I’m not interested in having a conversation. He continues anyway. So, I’m not responsive. I’m not comfortable, and I’m not giving off a vibe I am. But he continues anyway. He asks my name. And usually at this point, I’d quietly give my first name, and not respond more… Just quietly appease a tiny bit. Make it clear you’re not interested, but don’t cause trouble.
But this time, I don’t know if it was because I knew guns were illegal, or because Manchester just felt super safe, or if it was because there was such an increased police presence all over the city after the bombing, or if it was because I’ve learned through terrible first hand experience that even though appeasing can “seem” like the safest option, it obviously doesn’t always keep you safe… But I was forceful saying, “I prefer to walk alone” to every single question he asked. When a man passed us in the other direction, I thought, “Please see this situation and hear me say loudly and forcefully (at this point for like the 3rd or 4th time, though he doesn’t know that), “I’d like to walk alone!”
He doesn’t hear me, or he doesn’t do anything. Either way, it’s not his job. Finally, after being ignored over and over, I just stop in the middle of the sidewalk. And I tell this man, “I am walking alone from here.”
And I looked at him intensely and I stood my ground. And he just huffed a little and LEFT! He actually left. I watched to make sure he even turned a corner. He was gone. I thought it was probably gonna go worse than that, but it didn’t!
Is it always safe to stand up for yourself on the street? No. Do you always have time to stop walking to your destination? No. But in this one instance, I stood my ground hard and it worked out and I held my head a little higher as I moved forward and went back to my hotel! *dancing emoji*
And tomorrow, I’ll tell you all about my big touristy day in Manchester!