This morning on my walk to the train station in NE DC to get to work, a large black utility van turns a corner, and its passengers yell “Howya doin’, Darlin’?” at me. I don’t respond, and the men cackle like the hyenas from “The Lion King.” Ugh!
I got the company’s name — Hill’s Chimney Service. The van drives so fast that I’m worried I’m not going to be able to snag its license plate number.
The van gets stuck at a light, and I’m praying in my head that I catch up to it before the light changes. The light changed and I was worried I’d lose them. Someone must’ve been looking out for me, because they don’t make it this cycle and get stuck again. I pull out my Post-It pad, fumble for a pen, and write down the license plate number: MD plates 51N 005.
I continue on, and these fools have the audacity to still try to catcall at me. The one in the passenger seat (always the one on the passenger side, damn scrub) has this shit-eating grin and is giggling, but when I said “You sexually harassed me, so I took down your license plate number and will report you,” that grin turned into a frown and he immediately rolled up his window. I could still hear some giggling, but I repeated, “You will be reported.”
When I arrived at work, one of the first things I did was call Hill’s Chimney Service to report their catcalling employees. A kindly receptionist answered the phone, and when I told her what the call was about, she replied with “Oh my goodness!” She left a message for Mike, the supervisor.
About 40-something minutes later, Mike calls back. I relay the story to him and he was upset.
“My company does not condone this!” he said. “I am a family man, I love my wife, I would never do that to a woman, and I truly apologize for this behavior. That behavior does not represent Hill’s Chimney Service as a whole.”
When I gave the license plate number, he gave me the names of the culprits: “Richard and Tyrone.”
He told me that he will reprimand them as soon as he sees them, and hopes that I never see them again.
“If you do see them again and they do that again, please call me,” Mike said.
“Will do,” I said.
So a small victory against street harassment is mine, but it doesn’t tackle the bigger war against it.