Recently I loved this city a little less.
Well, that’s not entirely fair. Recently I hated the L train and an animal* that rode the crowded subway next to me.
“A crowded train is no excuse for unwanted sexual contact” the MTA announces via recording periodically, suggesting riders report issues to station managers or train conductors.
That advice is entirely impractical, particularly during rush hour.
One Monday morning several weeks ago, I hopped on a packed Manhattan-bound L train at Bedford Street on my way to work. I soon regretted not waiting for the next train.
First, someone nearby was smelly. Someone else – or perhaps the same person – had a terrible amount of ear hair that left me wishing for blinders.
Not long after we were under the East River, I felt something poke me. While unpleasant, having strangers touch you is part of living in New York City. It’s a crowded, bustling place. Touching can’t always be helped. Most of it is accidental and inadvertent. A satchel, shopping bag, someone’s elbow…all of these things might bump you in the course of a day.
Not this time. The guy next to me, I realized, was wearing his pants super low on his hips. Lower than is normal for low-hanging pants. What poked me was his semi-erect wiener, covered only in red underpants.
I was repulsed, angry and a little scared. Whereas 25-year-old me might have punched the guy or made a loud fuss, grown up me decided I needed to move away ASAP. Grown up me pushed her halfway across the subway car (that’s only about three feet, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the subway).
I warned the women around me about the guy while wondering what would shame him versus giving him a rise. If he was the type of perv who got his jollies by people discovering him and freaking out, well, I didn’t want to give him the pleasure.
The subway part of my commute is just one stop so I exited soon after the incident. Unfortunately so did the pervy poker. I looked to see if my subway car or the adjacent one had a conductor at the end of it, but neither did.
And what would the conductor do anyway–stop the commutes of one thousand or more people by pursuing the guy (who also exited at my stop)? Hardly.
I could have told the gate agent at the First Avenue station, but what would she do–chase after the guy as he exited? Unlikely.
Shaken up, I went about my day.
When local news stations reported on gropers and predators, I would look up from whatever I was doing. The details, though, never jived with my experience. I was not poked by the “Gentleman Groper” I was certain.
But GUESS WHAT? This guy looks like the one who poked me! I am pretty sure it’s him, and from the Gothamist story, it appears he has been arrested.
I can go back to being in love with NYC. Don’t worry – I already was.
*shout out to @jenperos for the word choice