Monday, March 27, 2006

A cold encounter

Tonight I was walking home from the station at about 11pm. There is one section of my walk home that is particularly dark, and there aren't very many people out and about on a Monday night. As I was walking down that particularly dark stretch, I noticed six men in suits arguing hotly about something, no doubt fueled by alcohol. "Annoying drunks!" I thought as I walked all the way to the opposite side of the street to avoid them.

A few yards later I was waiting to cross at an intersection when I heard three of the drunks come up behind me. I immediately stiffened and put my eyes and ears on full alert. My years in Manhattan and even my years at home have taught me to always trust my instincts, and though they may be drunk, a woman wearing a skirt and heels who hasn't been to a gym in years and is exhausted from working 12 hours today would be no match for three men.

The men stopped about five feet away from me and one asked in Japanese where the station is. The station in my neighborhood, mind you, is not hard to find - just walk toward the lights. "A likely line," I thought. I kept my expression stiff and gruffly pointed behind me. "That way," I said and I focused my eyes on the traffic light, waiting for it to change so I could cross. The men then realized I was foreign and said, "Sorry. Thank you" in heavily accented English and continued on their drunken way.

As I briskly made my way to my apartment, I was suddenly overcome with feelings of guilt and self-reproach. I could have at least given them a little kinder directions, directions with more details. I could have smiled. I could have said "You're welcome" to their "Thank you." They were drunk and probably honestly lost. Since when did I turn into such a cold person?!

But then I remembered that I was walking by myself alone on a dark street at 11pm at night. I was right to be cold. I did after all, tell them the correct way to the station, didn't I? So I did my duty. They were drunk and probably harmless, but you never know. Better safe than sorry, right?

That's what I keep telling myself. But somehow I can't help but feel guilty.


template by