This happened to me today: My dog got into a fight with another dog in the park in the morning. She’s generally a friendly, good-natured creature who loves kids and cats and pretty much everybody, but something about that dog rubbed her the wrong way, so she made that clear. Some twenty seconds of yelling broke the fight. No one got hurt.
And then the owner of the other dog ran at my dog like he was about to hit her. Naturally, I went straight back to yelling, this time at him. Which made him turn from my dog, and on to me. He came way too close and started screaming into my face. How could I let such a dangerous dog run free? Why didn’t I pull them apart? What was wrong with me? Telling him calmly that I had no intention of putting my hands between to sets of dog teeth only angered him further. I realized that he wasn’t interested in a sane discussion, so shook my head and, without another word, left the scene.
That might have been it. Only we met again at the other side of the park.
The guy shot me a creepy grin. It was funny, in a way, because that gave him away. I knew instantly that he was going to follow me. And he did. Lucky for me, I have a fully functioning set of nerves. I didn’t speed up or anything, just checked occasionally whether he was still there.
Five minutes later, and slowly getting close to home, he was still on my heels. Well. No way I was going to lead him straight to my door. Self-employed, thus the master of my schedule, I can easily afford wasting a bit of time on some fun. That might mean I’ll have to put in an extra hour in the evening when the kids are in bed, but so what. Without missing a beat, sticking to my comfortable walking pace, I turned into the next street like that was where I had always intended to go. I considered ringing some bell, but as I wasn’t sure who in the neighborhood might be home at such a time, I quickly discarded the idea, and anyway, I had one thing working for me: Time. Chances were, he would not be self-employed. If he had to be somewhere at a certain time, all I had to do was lead him on a merry chase around the district until he gave up.
And that’s precisely what I did. He followed me for a good twenty minutes, including stopping when I stopped, like when my dog discovered a cat on the opposite side of the road and insisted on sitting down the better to watch it, or when I was waiting at a red light – he actually went so far as to sit on a bench ten steps away while I was standing there.
Long story short, my trick worked and at some point, he gave up and was gone. I did a few more detours to be on the safe side, and went home.
I don’t know if that was a man/women/power balance issue, and frankly speaking, I don’t give a fuck. It was one human being trying to intimidate another human being by way of intruding into their safe zone. Girls – or boys, I don’t care – if this happens to you, do whatever feels appropriate. Ring a bell if you know someone’s home. Use your mobile phone, if you’re carrying one. Stop that nice old lady you see on the streets sometimes, explain the situation and ask her if she can pretend to chat with you. Or do as I did, and play merry chase, whether you’re self-employed or not. No job is worth risking your safety, and if your boss doesn’t understand that, go find another.
Take care, protect yourself, and stay safe.
By the way, this is my dog. Okay, you can’t see much of her in that picture, but you can surely see that she’s totally, utterly dangerous.