This is a excerpt from my online diary about the constant harassment I faced in a neighborhood I lived in in Oakland. I literally couldn’t step out of my door at any time of day or night and walk a block without being harassed or threatened.
This entry is a snapshot from one evening when I’d had enough.
2001-10-31 – 9:39 p.m.
I tried to get to the bus. The 57. The same route, the same way I went the day I was mugged. The bus that used to take me to work before the day things blew-up and I collapsed into a ball and never went to work again.
It’s Halloween, my favorite holiday ever. The trick-or-treaters are smart not to walk on my street. I was wearing a 50’s housewife dress with my black beehive wig. The higher the hair the closer to god. I was trying to get to the bus to meet Prem and go to a party in San Francisco.
Slowly I opened my front door and looked out, a bus wizzed by and my gut clenched. My hand shook as I turned the little lock on my screen door. I stepped over the dead matted dirt grass we call a lawn, and San Pablo stretched out in front of me, all shady streetlights and anonymous cars. Five blocks to the bus stop. You can make it. Prem said you would be okay.
Block one, a red truck whirls down the street in front of me, does a quick u-turn, and stops in a near-by driveway. I can faintly hear the dark-haired man asking me if I need a ride. I pretend I don’t hear him, I keep walking. This happens all the time on this street. It’s going to be okay, just 4 more blocks, you’ll be safe.
Block two, a group of kids at a bus stop, they seem harmless. I listen for footsteps behind me, I make sure each car that rolls by doesn’t come too close. My eyes are panoramic. I try to see, anticipate anything.
Block three, black and orange balloons are tied to the fence of Phat Beats. The same fence I was looking at in september when I heard footsteps run-up behind me. It was daylight, 8 am on labor day and I was walking to the 57 to go to work. A man ran-up behind me, I knew from the sound of his footsteps what he was about to do, but even that knowledge gave me nothing to stop it. He put his arm around my neck, I screamed. He said: Give me your purse or I’ll hurt you. (how many times have I recalled this story? I remember one of the symptoms of PTSD is to constantly talk of what happened)There was another man waiting for him in a faded grey car. I was lucky they just wanted my money. If they’d wanted to hurt me, kidnap me, they could have.
Walking by Phat Beats in my 50’s housewife dress on Halloween.
Do I look like a hooker to you? It’s fucking Halloween, can’t I be left alone just one night of the year?
An old truck pulls up to the curb next to me. My radar sounds. The face peering out of the passenger window is an ragged middle-aged man. As he leers at me his eyes– hungry and glassed-over, are inhuman. That’s it. no more.
I turned and walked as fast as I could away from the truck, past the kids again, heading towards home. My hand shook as I put the key in my front door. No one was behind me, no one had followed me.
I ripped-off my wig and threw it on the kitchen table.
Location: Oakland, CA