Subway Street Harassment On the Way Home

Empire in the Sky

Empire in the Sky. Bright as the moon, brightening my night, on a lonely walk home.

was going to write about how awesome my new Introductory Sewing Class is, but after that commute home, this scary encounter has to get written out to calm me down.

At around 10:20pm or so, I finished class, ate a fast food dinner with my sister, and chatted with my boyfriend on the phone till I got to the 34th Street & 7th avenue subway station.  Luckily my train rolled in just as I dashed up the stairs to its platform, and there was a choice laid out before me.  Sit next to the group of six hulking rednecks, with severe tans, army fatigue caps, and Hard Rock Cafe bags who were whispering and snickering to each other….or sit next to the stern looking businessman who was playing some racing game on his smartphone.

I sat down, pulled out my Kindle.

The businessman looked over and asked, “What are you reading?  What book is that?”

Like every time this happens, a million thoughts rush through my mind.  But the one that lingered was a story I heard on the news, where a young woman was shot because she ignored a man who was hitting on her.  So I answered politely.

He kept on asking me questions.  What do you do for a living, where are you from – no I mean, where is your FAMILY from, ORIGINALLY?  Where do you work?  Are you getting off at X station or Y station? Oh, me TOO!

I really didn’t want to tell him what station I get off at, but he already had it narrowed down somehow.

The businessman chatted on, saying he was a Google IT manager, he does so many different things at the office, he works at Chelsea, he lives near World Trade Center, blah blah blah…

Each time a sentence ended, even before it ended, I’d turn back to my reading.  But he kept talking and asking questions.

And by the way, if you live near WTC you would not get off at my stop….but he did….the man followed me up from the platform, through the labyrinthian staircases that led towards the street level.

As we exited to open air, he asked, “Do you have a boyfriend?”

WIth complete confidence and sincerity, I said, “Yes, I do.”

“For how long now?”

“Oh…about 4 years.” (Actually it’s only been 3 years.)

“Wow, that’s a long time…” His face creased with concern.  “Is he Chinese too?”


“Why?  Don’t you like American boys?  Why don’t you break up with him and date a nice American boy like me?”

Flabbergasted, I thought, You call yourself an “American boy” but you sound like you’re fresh off the boat from the Ukraine!!  Or Russia or Bulgaria, one of those countries.  My California-born boyfriend is way more American than you are…

The businessman kept going on and on about how I should give him my phone number so we can meet again, and how I should have an “American” boyfriend…At this point he took my hand.  I tried to shake it off, he turned my hand a bit in a tight grip, in that weird “princess gesture” that guys sometimes do….he just kept saying the same things over and over, and so over and over I kept saying “No thank you, I don’t need it, I already have a boyfriend and don’t need another”.  He tried twisting my wrist further, but I didn’t allow it, I kept my hand straight. The businessman rolled and somehow locked my arm in his arm, against his torso, so I couldn’t run away from him.

This is when I started shouting.  In hindsight, I was still being rather polite…saying no thank you, I don’t wanna go with you, let me go, I don’t want to, let me go.  The key, I suppose, was shouting to draw attention. I may live in a desolate area but there are still a few people on the street here and there.  Maybe he got scared and that’s why he let go.  I don’t really know.

But I think I might have to buy this pepper spray case for smartphones.  The legalities of when to use it if you “simply” feel threatened are murky to me, but in this incidence he not only touched me, he wrapped himself on me and would NOT let me go, even when I used force to try and pull away from him.  That’s scary….!  I think this situation would’ve justified some pepper spray.

I don’t know what it is about the 2 train at night.  I’ve even been spat on before. I did NOTHING to the guy, he just walked on to the train and immediately spat at my face.

Then he said, “You deserve it.”


3 thoughts on “Subway Street Harassment On the Way Home

  1. I think that they see you as a typical Asian female riding on the subway all alone, and its is an easy prey. Since you probably won’t make a scene, your not armed and probably won’t tell anyone what happens due to shame (yes blame the stereotypes but thats what they go by)

    Usually a good way to get out of those situations is to always be in the driver or conductors car, and also give the old slip right before the door closes (even though you want to make sure the station you get out at isn’t as seedy too) because they will not stop until they usually get what they want, and saying you have a boyfriend really just makes them want you even more.

    By the sounds of it you really did get lucky, how did you escape in the end?

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