A Thing That Happened: On Creepers, Creeping
A few years ago, I switched gas stations. This particular one was convenient. It was a better price. But the guy who owned it/worked at it? He was a creeper. He repeatedly told me I’m beautiful (fine, okay, whatever). Then, he started to ask if he could paint me. He’s a famous artist of some sort, and he’s been featured in a book. And I should totally look him up. He told me there was nothing untoward about it. I could bring my boyfriend, if I wanted.
Every time I stopped there, he would ask me this. Try and convince me to sit for him. And sure, it was flattered. I’ve had good friends draw me before (shoutout to Dani!), but the last straw was when he asked me, insistently, that I shake my hair for him. Because it was beautiful. I’m not going to lie: I did. Because I wanted him to stop. I wanted him to shut up.
I also never went back there again, and I’d rather run out of gas than go there.
Since then, I’ve been going to a particular place. It has good prices. Everyone is nice. Until a few months ago, when they hired a New Guy. The first time I met New Guy, he asked where I lived (“Down the road.”). He peppered me with weirdly invasive questions and raised my hackles. New Guy isn’t there every time I go, so I put up with it. Because it’s either go to that gas station or pay more. And since gas is freaking expensive as hell, no.
This morning, I stopped for gas. New Guy hooked me up to the pump, then came back and leaned in my passenger’s side window. I was polite. I’m always polite. I’m not overly friendly. I do not flirt. He asked if I was going home. I said no. Work. He then asked where I worked. I broke eye contact and began staring at the steering wheel. I gave him a vague answer. He kept staring, and I kept not speaking.
He then told me that I looked good. I said thank you, and I kept looking at the steering wheel. I just wanted him to go away. And yes, it was in broad daylight. And no, I wasn’t in any physical danger. There were other people there. There weren’t any overt threats.
But I also couldn’t leave, until I was unhooked from the pump. And believe me when I say, I felt tremendously uncomfortable. Leaning into my car window is invasive. Asking personal questions is invasive. I had to sit there, with a random dude hanging in my window, asking me personal questions.
I couldn’t leave. I didn’t feel SAFE. And there was nothing I could do. It was alarming. So, now, I have a choice: go back and be rude (because I’m not going to smile anymore) or pay more for gas. And, look, gas is expensive. It sucks that I have to decide whether or not I’m harassed or pay more money. All I wanted was to get gas and NOT be seriously creeped out.
Instead, I went from one dipshit to another. You might ask WHY women feel unsafe. You might ask why we get freaked out. You might ask why we all go to the bathroom in a pack. Guys, THAT is why. Because I can’t even buy gas without bullshit.