I have a new character to add to the catalog of people who ride the subway: the Rubber. I boarded the No. 3 subway this morning along with a few other people, including a man about my age in a business suit. I was able to get an end seat near the door next to an older man. The man who boarded with me stood in the doorway. My seatmate got off two stops later, and his seat was taken by the Door Dweller whose leg brushed mine as he sat down. No big deal—we're in close quarters and we're bound to bump into each other. He murmured an apology and I gave him a quick nod. He shifted around a bit as he got his iPhone out and put in his earbuds, jostling me. And again, no big deal, this stuff happens.
But as he settled into his seat his thigh pressed against mine, though there was ample room for us to sit without touching each other at all. Then he rubbed his leg against mine. I bristled, and expanded a bit—I've mentioned before that as a smaller person, I tend to get squashed on the subway sometimes by larger individuals. And then it happened again. Before it could happen a third time, in a very natural "I'm getting my phone out of my pocket" motion, my elbow connected with his rib cage. Hard.
I apologized. He moved over. And winked at me. I got off two stops later.
Sexual harassment on the subway is not a new thing. And for all intents and purposes, this encounter was relatively mild. I've had men press into me while standing up—generally, a well placed heel sends a clear message that they need to back off in those cases. And there are also more severe cases of exposure and masturbation. I'm also not afraid to get loud if I need to, and I'm glad to say that it seems more women are willing to speak up as well.
Do you have public transportation survival skills to share with AiP readers? Let us know below.