I spent the better part of this evening with some friends at the Key Club in West Hollywood. Great night, even greater company. I hopped on the 2 and stopped at the In-N-Out on Sunset/Orange for dinner on the way home, walked up to Hollywood/Highland to catch the Red Line to NOHO station, then walked on home from my stop. Easy commute, especially with a fresh LA Weekly in tow.
Traveling late at night isn't an issue for me. I don't necessarily own the night but I'd like to think that the darkness and I are on good terms. Actually, we're practically best friends when the streets are well-lit and when parts of town are bustling and relatively full of activity (Hollywood, Silverlake, etc.) Once I get back to the Valley from over-the-hill, though, I can't help but feel like someone's going to kidnap me.
Case in point - not more than an hour ago I was walking up the street before making a left on the street that I live on. A car driving in the opposite direction made a U-turn and decided to slowly drive alongside me. I didn't look at the car directly; I kept on walking, although I kept it in my vision in the corner of my eye in case the driver tried something. But all I kept on thinking was "Keep driving; don't you dare stop your car or say anything to me or I will scream." The car followed me for about thirty seconds. When they saw that I wasn't going to give them any sort of attention, they then made another U-turn from the right lane and continued along their way.
I don't know what this person wanted. I wasn't drawing any attention to myself. I was wearing jeans, a tee-shirt and a sweater - but even if I was in a dress and sandals that doesn't give them the liberty to intimidate the life out of me. (But it is for reasons such as this that - with the exception of hair and make-up - I dress down when going out.) I was just a young woman walking home from a night out - but maybe that's really all the reason they needed. I wish people realized that just because a woman is walking down the street it doesn't give you permission to do whatever the hell you think you want to do so early in the morning. It reminds me of elementary school as much as it reminds me of the opening scenes of an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Even if I was carrying pepper spray or a small weapon - which I have somewhere - would I be able to fend this person off if they tried to abduct me?
Now I no longer wonder why I feel safer wandering around Manhattan at four o'clock in the morning than I do my quiet neighborhood just before one. It's ridiculous, unfair, and a sexist violation that I don't approve of at all. I called my friend after this had happened, and he suggested when I go out that I call friends and/or family and tell them where I am and when I intend to be home so that if in the event that I don't let them know I arrived home safely they'll know something might be up. This is from my friend, a grown man who has a car. As a woman, who is admittedly more vulnerable without a car, I should probably be more inclined to do so.
Like I said before, the night and I are on good terms with each other, but sometimes someone has the gall to try something and it all goes back to square one. I've been going out a lot lately. Might go out tonight; might not. Still, with or without a car, are there any precautions you take when you know you'll be out late at night? Do you rely on more than just your intuition and reflexes? What's your take?