Of all the men that have met me on the train and wanted to bone me, this was the least terrible one by a long shot. Men meeting me on the train and wanting to bone me happens a lot. Evening trains in South London seem to be where this sort of thing happens.
It starts with them initiating small talk. Blame me of you wish (actually don’t); I tend to talk to them. It’s easier than having to explain that I don’t want to talk, and sometimes I do want to pass the time by talking, even being aware that I might have to later explain why I wanted a conversation but not to go to his house and suck his dick.
He was shorter and smaller than me (which at my 5’11” isn’t unusual). He asked how I was doing as the train pulled out of Victoria. He offered me a can of beer, which I declined. I’d had enough, and more than anything I avoid accepting anything that will translate to entitlement later. “Where are you going?”, he asked. “Norbury”. “I’m going to Norbury too!” Oh, that’s prime trying to bed me real estate.
I was conscious that having removed my jacket I was sitting there in but a lace bralet. I thought of how revealing clothes get interpreted in shitty ways. “You’re a very nice girl.” “True. Yeah, I am.” That throws them off a bit. I was meant to be blushing and giggling right now.
As always, it was him throwing questions at me. I told him what I’d done last night, what I was planning for the weekend. We exchanged our backgrounds – I was Hungarian but grew up in the North, just to keep it simple. He’d lived in South London all his life and his parents had come from Pakistan. I told him I worked for TfL. He apologised for drinking on the train; I told him that it’s quite legal, explaining that because it’s operated by Southern under a franchise agreement with the Department for Transport, it has nothing to do with the mayor or his alcohol ban.
As we left Clapham Junction and people had sat around us he stopped talking and returned to his smartphone. We rode to Norbury, silently both went down the ramp and out of the ticket gates. At that point he turned to me and asked which way I was going. I motioned vaguely in the direction in which I was about the leave the station. “Do you want me to come?”. “No”. Simple answer, making excuses doesn’t help. “Okay”.
Damn, that was easy. Last dude ended up begging me to come over. Why so easy? This man might have just been decent but interested gently approaching a consensual hookup, though why he thought that was likely from a stranger on a train I don’t know. But as I lit a cigarette and began the walk home, I thought about something else.
Just before he’d stopped bothering me I told him who I worked for and then, explaining the alcohol regulations, showed I was knowledgable about my area of work. At that point, I became not just any white woman, which helps in itself. Despite anything my clothes might have been saying, and perhaps counteracting them, I became a respectable white woman. And I received respect – be it genuine respect, a perception that I’m self confident, hence more difficult to get into bed, or an awareness of the repercussions of making any trouble.
Since I got this job I’ve been conscious of the way I’ve been respected more by all sorts of people, and how that’s strengthened the privilege already have. And just maybe this evening I managed to make myself far too privileged and respectable a person to bother. I could not be less proud.