The Harassment

It stopped raining in Albufeira, which means I must have been leaving. I took my last coffee to the beach and said goodbye before somehow making my way to the train station. ‘Somehow’, because buses in Albufeira neither register on Google Maps, nor have a schedule; rather, they run every half an hour but your guess is as good as mine regarding when that 30 minute mark is.

That’s Helen. Center stage is her husband, while the third man is from Chicago. It was the first time to happen since my arrival in Portugal. Sitting at the train station quietly and alone, a man walked past me. When I looked up, he started making slurping sounds and stuck out his tongue. I quickly averted my eyes and looked straight ahead instead.

Helen had not yet arrived, though the Chicago man looked over. When the harasser came around a second time, Helen and her husband were standing a little ways away from me but within hearing distance. The man stood in front of me, and made more disgusting noises and then started “Excuse me senhorita…“. Without looking at him, and using my most decisive tone possible, I said “I don’t want to speak with you”. From the corner of my eye, I could see he smiled. Literally, he was leering.

Through and through, this man was a predator. And had I been alone, I would have become extremely scared.

After staring at me for a while, he turned to Helen and her husband. Helen wasn’t having it. She basically told him to fly a kite as politely as a Brit would. He turned back to me, but Helen intervened. She started talking to me instead, and then came over and stood with me. Our topic of conversation was how vile he was.

He left and didn’t come back. Helen sat next to me and spent the next 45 minutes together, waiting for my train (as theirs was after mine).

She and her husband, recently retired from their flooring business, were back in Albufeira to see if the restaurant they came to 50 years ago for their honeymoon was still standing. It is, and though still owned by the same man, it is now a “chav” place for tourists.

Helen is amazing. Be like Helen.

Today, I am grateful for:
1. Allies. If you see something, if you sense something, if you feel like someone needs support, step the fuck in. Always.
2. Men who are not creepy.
3. Boiled potatoes, a regular side here in Portugal. I don’t know what they add to the water, but no boiled potatoes taste better than Portuguese boiled potatoes.

Lisbon | April 20, 2019

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