By Anne Miller

I still feel gross. I can’t stop thinking about it.

I was in Wal-Mart, looking for fitted sheets for the girls’ bunk beds. Wheeling down the aisle, I was uncomfortably aware of an old-ish man down at the end of the rack. He was rather large, wearing nondescript clothes. I wasn’t staring, but by all appearances, he had his hand in his pants. I got rather stiffish and frigid and kept going. We had already almost met. As he passed me, he leaned in a bit and leered, “Could you help me get the sperm out? I can’t get the sperm out.” Horrified, I realized he had been working on his wanger as he talked.

I was scared and outraged. Certainly not looking for fitted sheets anymore. I turned into the next aisle, my mind whirling. I saw him again, further away. There was a lady ahead of me and I followed her around a bit, knowing I was safe as long as I wasn’t alone. I saw him again.

I found a worker and told him a man just made a sick comment to me. He asked what he looked like and I told him, not that I looked that closely! We went looking for him and then I felt safe and even powerful. That jerk. Where are you? Naturally, he wasn’t around. 

I managed to find an eyeglass case for my mother, all alone in the in the depths of cosmetics. I was a bit jumpy.

How dare he? Oh, it makes me so mad. And I just walked away! Alright, so I did say “good grief” fairly loudly — but as I walked away.

What should I have done? What could I have done? The thought consumes me. I’m not a pushover, but neither have I had lessons in handling dirty old men in the bedding aisle.

Look at this picture:

There’s an old man and a young woman alone in an aisle in the store. He makes a vulgar comment. She stops in her tracks, swinging her cart around so it’s between her and this pathetic man. She looks him in the eye and speaks very loudly so everyone three and four aisles around hears every word.

“What is wrong with you?” she flashes. “How dare you talk to me like that?” He turns away, but she follows him and starts talking even more loudly. He is almost running now. “Management!” she blares. “Management! This guy just HARASSED me! Let me tell you what he said…” By now people are flocking around, gaping at this weird pair speeding through the grocery store. The old fool is bright red and sweating. Ruing the day he was born, no doubt.

Or you could keep it simple. Nip-it-in-the-bud style. Try this:

There is an old man and a young woman alone in an aisle in the store. She is uncomfortably aware that he appears to have his hand in his pants. She stops and stares, verifying her suspicions. “Mister,” she says extremely loudly. “You’ve got your hand in your pants! What is wrong with you? This is the WALMART!!!”  He turns red and disappears. Why did he ever think it would work?

But I didn’t do it. Anyone can be brave in the comfort of their office chair.

Silence was his cover. Once again his victim made no noise. Titillated and encouraged once more, he dreams of his next greasy encounter.

That’s the thing of it, you know. This isn’t just about me and how horrible and violated I felt. This is about you. I didn’t throw a fit and give him a sobering dose of public humiliation. So he’ll do it again, and you may be his next victim.

There is a time to be silent and a time to speak. By the grace of God, the next time I will speak – loudly.

Published in: on January 24, 2011 at 1:21 pm  Comments (3)  
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