This morning as I was getting on the Metro bus (in DC) to ride to work, the bus driver was standing outside taking a quick break. As I approached the bus and showed him my pass, he said to me, “I’m going to disrespect you today.” I stopped short, and said, “excuse me?” because I honestly had no idea what he was talking about. I was expecting him to say something about my pass — try to be a smart ass or something about it, or joke around that I didn’t have enough fare, etc. I thought he was going to disrespect me as a customer. No, he disrespected me as a woman.
He repeated, “I’m going to disrespect you today. I’m going to tell you that you’re a beautiful young lady.” Well, gee, if you know it’s disrespectful, then keep your mouth shut. Why do some people think women (and sometimes men) are flattered by these kinds of comments? Why can’t people realize how embarrassing and creepy it is when you don’t know someone? I don’t need random guys giving me these “flattering” comments when I’m just trying to commute to work in peace.
It really bothers me that he thinks it’s appropriate to a) use the word “disrespect” in his approach, and b) do this to women — even while on the job. I didn’t say anything to him about it, though, because I didn’t want to make things awkward or worse — I needed to get on the bus to get to work. I felt incredibly powerless because that was my form of transportation this morning. And I’m mad at myself for staying silent. But what do you do when there isn’t another bus around to ride? Why should I re-route my morning routine or make myself late to work because someone has to be harassing me? Is there a way to report street harassment to Metro?** I ask because this is not the first time this has happened — I’m approached by Metro employees all the time and it’s irritating because I just want to be left alone.
Location: Washington, DC
In response to anonymous’s question, yes you can report metro employees for harassment. WMATA has a customer service contact form you can use to report WMATA employees, or you can call 800-637-7000. I have a friend in the DC area who has done this many times. If you can, include the time/date/location/description of Metro employees in the report. See this HollaBack DC post for more.