In Bali everyone honks at me. I can’t go 20 feet down the street without being yelled at. A taxi driver sees me from a mile away, slows down, and starts banging on his horn to get my attention. On a good day I ignore every single one of them. On a bad day, the attention drives me fucking crazy.
My gut reaction is anger and protest. Usually I just pretend I don’t notice. Otherswise I’d spend 8 hours a day smiling and bowing and saying “no thank you.”
One of my favorite feelings in the whole wide universe is walking into a coffee shop, sitting in the back corner by the window, listening to music and watching the movie of the world go by. It’s the happy place I travel to when everyone’s staring at me.
I try to slow the anger when I feel they’re using me. Why? Mostly because I can’t change anything by lashing out.
But also because these experiences give me sympathy. They give me sympathy for women who are all too used to getting stared at, followed, propositioned. They give me sympathy for people who’ve NEVER been able, physically, to blend into the crowd. They even give me sympathy for rich (by american standards) people, because I’m sure your friends and family know you’ve got money.
When I was at the market last week I few things, among them was a bag of chips. The cashier stopped in the middle of ringing me up and said, “These are 50,000 - is it OK?” 50,000 idk is about $3.50 usd. The cashier was essentially asking me, “are you really going to spend so much money on a bag of chips? That same money could buy dinner for four.”
That sir, is a good point.