Everyday woman-hating

So this morning I’m driving to work, and I’m stopped, as usual, in a line of bumper-to-bumper traffic that’s trying to perform like an 8-way merge to get onto the highway. And when my turn comes to creep forward another few inches, a guy in a giant pickup truck starts trying to force his way in ahead of me. And because I’m petty and I hate line-cutters with a fiery intensity, I take advantage of the fact that my car is miniscule—a two-door Yaris—to scoot around his front bumper, up to the back of the car ahead of me, blocking him from entering my lane and making him probably 4.2 seconds later for work.

As I continue to make my slow way to the on-ramp—a process that takes several minutes—I hear someone shouting. Through my closed windows. Over my not-very-quiet radio. And what he is shouting is “Stupid whore!” Over and over. Dozens of times.

It is, of course, the man in the giant pickup. Who then tailgates me onto the highway, cutting off someone else in a merge so that another car doesn’t come between us.

He follows me, never more than a car length behind, for a mile, onto the interchange with another highway.

He follows me onto this second highway, still never more than a car length away. He swerves in and out of lanes without signaling so that he can stay behind me. He waits behind me at toll booths, even when I pull up to the longer lines. He follows me, ultimately, for over 20 miles, over the course of half an hour. Never more than a car length behind, even when traffic begins moving at 80 miles an hour.

He does not honk. He does not flash his lights. He does not make rude or intimidating gestures in my rearview mirror, when I dare to look in it. He just follows me, very closely, for a very long time.

Finally, I approach my exit from the highway. I move to the right-hand lane, trying frantically to think of a place where I can pull over that isn’t my office parking lot (I don’t want him to know where he can find me again), where people would come immediately to help if, dead set on an in-person confrontation, he tracks me until I stop and screams at me, vandalizes my car, hits me with his fists, hits me with his car, pulls out a gun. I’m coming up blank. There’s a mall, but it’s probably not open yet. The post office is small and the workers inside are unlikely to hear anything happening the parking lot. The register attendant at the gas station may not want to get involved, and who knows whether there’ll be anyone at the pumps. If there’s a police station nearby, I don’t know how to get there. I am low on gas. I am very afraid.

Thankfully, although he follows me until the very last second, he does not get off the highway with me. I make it to work only somewhat shaken and a few minutes late. I am unharmed, but I don’t feel safe.

Which is the point, of course. To make sure I don’t feel safe.

I very much doubt that the man in the giant pickup would have been so angry if it had been a man who had refused to let him into the line of traffic. I doubt even more that he would have followed a man for 20 miles in what can only be taken as an implied threat of physical violence. It probably wouldn’t have scared a man, only annoyed him. Because the message wasn’t, “I am superior to you in every way,” which is the normal way to show up a man, and would have been better accomplished by speeding past me, flipping the bird.

No, the message was, “I see you, bitch. And I can hurt you any time.”

2 Responses

  1. Ms Brahmina, I read your blog (nice to see a post!) because you truly get it and can articulate it. I’m sorry that this incident caused you to “get it” in such a personal way. I hope you are ok. I also hope that this man falls into a deep ditch while driving and that nobody comes to his rescue.

  2. A very similar thing happened to me some years ago. I was driving on the freeway and I got off at my exit. I was the second car on the jam packed off-ramp. The car in front of me pulled into the intersection to go and I pulled up behind him. The problem was his movement was a mistake as the light was red, so he was dangling partway into cross traffic and the traffic had to go around him. He looked back wanting to back up. I looked back wanting to back up but since the off ramp was packed, neither of us could move and inch.

    When the light turned green and we were able to go, I made my turn proceeding to my destination. While I was driving along with my windows up, I kept hearing this muffled sound that I couldn’t quite identify. I thought, what is that noise? I listened to try to identify it. Then I realized it sounded like voices. That’s when I turned my head toward my passenger window and saw that the guy from the off ramp was pacing me. He was pacing me and screaming at the top of his lungs from a beet red face.

    He continued to follow me all the way to Starbucks where I parked. He pulled up in the aisle just past my space and waited for me to get out of my car. I sat there for a few minutes with my phone so he would know that I had the ability to call for help, but he didn’t leave. So I got out of my car. When I did he and his wife, both white, were yelling at me and telling me they were going to report me to the DMV for reckless driving. FOR HIS MISTAKE. I ignored them and kept walking. There were a few people around but I was never afraid of this asshole, just not sure how far he was willing to go. My incident was both misogynist and racist.

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