NoVA Living

That Time I Was Harassed

I was followed last Friday night while walking home from a restaurant in Old Town Alexandria.

I’d met my roommate and another friend for dinner. I left before they did because I was driving to Richmond that night to see my Mom for Mother’s Day weekend. It was after 8pm, so it was getting dark outside, but it wasn’t completely dark yet. I was on foot, because I only had about a mile to walk.

I turned from the main road onto a side road. About a block down, I passed someone sitting in a car on the side of the road. I heard him say something, so I slowed down — people are always asking for directions and such, so I thought he might need some help. It was an Indian guy (as in “from India,” due to his accent), and when I heard him say, “Hey, cutie, what’s up?” I turned around and continued on my way. He pulled the car forward and kept asking me to stop, and asking if I’d have a drink with him. I ignored him and continued walking.

I reached the next major intersection, where his only option was to turn right, but I could continue on foot straight across the highway to the other side (this is the route I usually take when I’m walking, so I knew the intersection would do that). I assumed I lost him.

Little did I know. I got a few blocks down, and when I passed through another intersection (a smaller one this time, since by then I was in a residential neighborhood) I saw headlights approaching on my left. I knew right away it was him.

The thing is, I know the route he would have had to take to get into my neighborhood, and it’s not simple: a right at that intersection where I’d lost him, then a U-turn, then back up the street, another right, and then a zigzag through a few more roads to get to where he found me again. (My neighborhood is weird because some of the roads are blocked off to keep out through-traffic. It can be a pain sometimes, but the alternative would be majorly busy roads during rush hour, so I’ll deal with the inconvenience.)

I thought about pulling out my cell phone and calling someone. I could have called my friends at the restaurant, but I knew it would take them several minutes just to get back to their car. I thought about calling this police officer I know who I thought might be working in the area that night. I literally had my phone in my hand and was contemplating what to do when the car pulled up beside me again.

“Hey, cutie, I just want to take you out for a drink!”

I responded with something along the lines of “G** d*** it, leave me the f*** alone!” And luckily he did. He stepped on the gas and drove off. (Why he didn’t do that before he chased me down, I don’t know.)

The thing is, I wasn’t scared (at least not until he pulled up beside me the second time). And even then I didn’t think he’d actually do anything — I wasn’t getting any kind of scary-vibe from him. He was just being annoying. (I think my roommate was more freaked-out about it than I was when I told her.)

But since this is the first time something like this has happened to me, where I was purposefully followed, it did make me stop and think. Should I start carrying mace in my purse? Is it time to take a self-defense class? Would any of those things make a difference if the guy really had malice in mind? I do live in a safe neighborhood, but at the time this happened…there wasn’t anybody else in sight.

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