I was just nearly back from my walk with my son (took him in the stroller), when a car pulled over towards me. I was practically on my own property. This testosterone-amped 50 year old man rolled down the window and said, very condescendingly, "Sweetheart, I drive this road 5 times a day...you need to wear something so that I can see you."
This really got me riled up, even though I was in a relaxed state of mind. I didn't say anything, just waved him off.
I'm just wondering - am I over-reacting? What would you do?
I have personal issues with the nanny state. But how can you miss someone pushing a stroller??
Obviously his tone was meant to intimidate and punish me, and my inner rebel wanted to kick his royal freaking *ss, but I didn't let him get the better of me. Yet, I'm still stewing about it. I feel a little violated and threatened because - why would a man bother to do this? He was able to see me fine?
I don't get it.
09-28-2013, 03:34 PM
I wouldn't worry about it....seems to say more about his actions than yours....if there was no sidewalk or some less safe areas of the road, by all means take precautions so that people can see you and your child....if he bothers you again, i'd probably say something like "well if you drive this road so often, i'm sure you know to watch for pedestrians like me" or something like that...or perhaps he needs to have his eyesight checked...but really don't let it bother you :)
09-28-2013, 03:57 PM
Baseball bat. Door.
Why were you not carrying a baseball bat?
09-28-2013, 04:00 PM
I guess it wouldn't bother me if I lived in an area with lots of houses, but I'm isolated where I live. A woman alone on the road...just scared. Not sure how to deal with that other than stop walking on this road or just hope nothing happens. I guess anything can happen anywhere. I just feel like a target where I live. (I do not mean a target for drivers)
09-28-2013, 04:01 PM
Ian, lol....good idea!!
09-28-2013, 04:15 PM
If his eyes are that bad maybe he shouldn't be driving. Was it dusky or dark out? If so I can say with some authority that older eyes aren't as sharp as they once were in those conditions. If it was broad daylight he might not have been paying attention like he should, driving too fast, he didn't expect to see a walker and you "scared" him, seeing you late in the game. Some people can't take blame for their own actions (inattention, expectations, driving habits) so he decided to rid himself of his discomfort by schooling you.
Nothing to be done that you didn't already do. I don't think you have to worry about him stalking you or anything like that. Get a bright walking jacket or vest and that should help both of you. It will at least be fair warning to less attentive drivers. Don't let the inner rebel keep you from caring for your own safety. If you do, he will not have "won" anything you will have.
FWIW I get your annoyance.
09-28-2013, 04:17 PM
I think he was probably angry with himself that he didn't see you soon enough, and is reminding you that, for your and your son's own safety, perhaps you could do something to be better seen.
I find this happens a lot -- people on the road think they are visible, but to a moving vehicle they are not.
The last thing you want is to get hit, especially with your child, right? I think he was trying to be helpful. :hug:
ETA: To answer your original question -- yes, I think you are over-reacting. And I don't think you should assume his tone was meant to intimidate you. He was probably pissed at himself, or over the general situation, and it came out in his voice. At least, with the information given, that's how I would interpret it. Maybe you could put something bright on the stroller to make it more visible?
09-28-2013, 05:09 PM
I think he probably was trying to be helpful, even if his execution was poor. And I agree that it's often more difficult to see pedestrians from a moving car than most people would assume.
I never realized how important it is to "stand out" until I moved to Northcentral Wisconsin, an area where people spend a lot more time outdoors, hunting, fishing, biking, walking, running, cross-country skiing.....
You've never seen so much blaze orange in you're life ( I had never even heard of blaze-orange until I came to Wisconsin) . There's even a common joke that you're not a "real" Wisconsonite if you don't own at least one piece of bright orange clothing.
Even so, every year several people are accidentally injured and killed in car/pedestrian and hunting accidents because they weren't seen by the driver or shooter.
This driver may not have delivered the advice well, but it still is good advice.
09-28-2013, 05:52 PM
I think newleaf and kaplods are probably right. Pedestrians aren't always as visible to motorists as they think they are. Plus, motorists may not even think to look for pedestrians (and cyclists, etc.) on roads without sidewalks and/or that run through rural or suburban areas. The guy's phrasing may have been off-putting, but he was probably trying to be helpful. Set a good safety example for your little guy by wearing hi-vis gear when you take him out walking. If you're concerned about people attacking you, arrange to check in with someone after coming back from your walks (so they can contact police if you go missing) and carry a cell phone with good reception, along whatever defensive weapons/deterrents (stick/bat, pepper spray, knife, gun, etc.) you can legally carry and would actually be willing and able to use in case of an attempted assault or kidnapping.
09-28-2013, 11:07 PM
You may want to consider carrying a stun gun/zap stick with you on your walks. They're relatively cheap (eBay) and just having it with you could give you that added peace of mind. I own one. It fits in my pocket easily. You could also carry a small can of mace on your walks. Either one.
09-29-2013, 07:22 AM
He doesn't sound like the nicest guy on the block but at least he's wise enough to say something. From the sound of it it sounds like he was exasperated, it sounds as if he's seen you before and had a few close calls with you. He was probably thinking "man, this lady is always wearing dark clothing and is impossible to see, what is she thinking???" I would heed the advice! At the very least get a bright colored jacket, something that reflects light. Even with light shining on you in the day time it sure is hard to see someone wearing dark clothing.
As a driver I can't tell you how scared I am of people crossing the road in dark clothing. I swear to you, I cannot see them for the life of me and they are putting their life at risk and I WILL be the one who suffers the consequences of that long term should anything happen.
I do understand your response though. A woman on the road with a baby should not have to feel threatened and perhaps he could have said "excuse me, I don't mean to startle you but I've noticed you walk in the area in dark clothing and I'm suggesting that you wear brighter clothing - it's very dark out here and I often don't see you until I'm too close."
09-29-2013, 10:56 AM
Thanks everyone. I appreciate all of your input! I know this seemed like over thinking, but in an effort to keep my compulsive eating at bay, I felt it was necessary to be aware of the moment and what I was feeling, so that I could learn a lesson and not be stuck in similar moments down the road.
I thought about it and decided that I feel very safe/not threatened by cars during my walks and am very conscious about when a car is coming (I can hear them long before they can see me, so I know to get out of the way, even when they are speeding). I feel that changing anything about my appearance is overkill and just feeding into the fear/paranoia. I'm 38 years old, know what to wear or not wear, and am very conscious of what drivers can see or not see, as I'm the first one to point out to my family how twilight can blind drivers and that it's never prudent to walk in the dark. I'm not comfortable walking at those times, so I try not to. During the walk yesterday, it was broad daylight, this man started slowing down about 1/8th mile away from me, and had sufficient time to pull over and roll down his window. He clearly saw me yesterday, so I concluded that he was referencing some other time.
I'm sure that this man was startled at some point by someone (since no one on this road wears reflective clothing, including many of the male joggers) and was just taking the opportunity to address me since he can't address anyone else. Would he have pulled over and said the same thing to a man? I am doubtful that he would think a man "needs" the advice, and also doubtful that a man would be as kind as I was, especially if he were called "sweetheart." I understand his message and can look past the tone. His message being that it would be prudent to wear light clothing was heard. Like I said, would a man not know this? Why would a woman (particularly a mother) not know this?
However, his fear is his, not mine. In fact, I'm more fearful of strange men pulling over and taking advantage of me than of getting hit on a road I've walked down thousands of times for many, many years in just the same kind of clothing I've always worn.
I feel comfortable in my decision and happy to know why I was worried about this in the first place. The fact that someone felt they could control my actions, and my automatic response to feeling like I "have" to do as they say or else suffer the consequences one way or another. There are consequences to not changing my behavior, but what are they: get hit by a car or suffer his anger? It was the latter that worried me.
09-30-2013, 12:12 AM
Yes. Yes you're over-reacting. I am amazed how many pedestrians think they can be seen just because they are there, and don't wear reflective gear or anything else. If you are wearing anything matte or medium to dark in the evening, especially as winter nears, you are hard to see. With a stroller you may have slightly more visibility if it is affixed with reflective tape, but always err on the side of caution.
Why you'd assume this is a testosterone thing instead of a safety issue is beyond my comprehension. I'd never jump to that conclusion unless there was blatantly sexual actions or words involved. I'd be tempted to say something to a poorly signaled pedestrian with an infant, too - how horrifying to not be able to clearly see a pair like that! It's no nanny state to inform a stranger that if you had some difficulty seeing them, someone else might as well.
As far as I can tell, he was trying to be kind and helpful - you reaction to that is more shocking than anything you indicated he said by assuming the very worst of his motives and words.
09-30-2013, 12:16 AM
And why would you assume he wouldn't say that to a man? Could it be that he thought the danger was higher when there was more at stake - a woman and child - than a man? Most likely. And why is that a problem? What is wrong with a man wanting to protect women and children over another grown man? I certainly hope my husband and son would give more deference and care to those weaker/more vulnerable than them, and to women and children as a general rule. That's just chivalry and good manners!
09-30-2013, 08:09 AM
I think the OP was put off by the man's demeanor. Calling me "sweetheart" puts me on edge too. But if a driver tells me he can't see me, I'd take him seriously.
09-30-2013, 08:24 AM
Most men would not condescendingly call someone sweetheart in the manner he did, so yes, I do think he wouldn't pull over and tell a man what to do. A person like this is on a power trip and other men are less likely to allow that.
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive..those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." C.S. Lewis
09-30-2013, 12:10 PM
I think he probably was trying to be helpful, even if his execution was poor. And I agree that it's often more difficult to see pedestrians from a moving car than most people would assume.
Right. Regardless of his delivery, you would be wise to consider if the advice is worth heeding.
09-30-2013, 02:46 PM
I have many times pulled over to speak with people walking, riding their bike and even police on duty if they are in the road. If I can't see them until it is too late I would hate myself if something awful happened. I think people who are walking, running or biking think they have left enough room for vehicles to get by but drivers don't think the same way. Please take his advise even if he didn't say it as nicely as possible!
09-30-2013, 03:31 PM
Most men would not condescendingly call someone sweetheart in the manner he did
Most YOUNG men would not call a woman sweetheart
And we really do not know the manner in which this OLDER man spoke or his mental state or how he would have spoke to a different person (older, younger, male or female).
We only know what OP has shared about her interpretation of events. She may be dead-on and the guy might be a Super-Jacka** or there may be 1001 other possibilities.
If OP had been a male, maybe the driver would have gotten out of his car and started a verbal or physical altercation.
Call me cynical, but I believer that pure and selfless motivations are exceedingly rare and the ability to determine other people's thoughts and motivation (and often even our own) even rarer. All we can do is guess and know that most of the time our guesses will be wrong.
But this guy's integrity, prejudices, and intentions do not matter. Refusing to take his advice because of the way he delivered it, is allowing yourself to be manipulated just as surely as if you followed the advice because he said it.
What he did and said has absolutely nothing to do with anyone other than himself. He may have had the best intention. He may have had the worst. He may have been a serial killer. He may have been a nice guy.
IT DOESN'T MATTER!!!
Personally, I would recommend a strategy of assuming the best, but being prepared for the worst.
Bad, even extremely evil people can seem good if they're charming and skilled in communication and manipulation -And very good people can seem like complete poopwads if they lack social graces.
My husband is one of the latter. He is blunt, opinionated, and stubborn to the point of rudeness. He thinks that everyone in the world would benefit by acting the way he thinks they should, and he's not reluctant to share his opinions. If he thinks you're doing something stupid (by his criteria) there's a 90% chance you will here about it (and not in a tactful way). His idea of tact is resisting the urge to call you a moron (but his tone of voice will say it any way).
Sounds like a complete jackass. In fact, after more than ten years of marriage, my family is just starting to understand why I married and am still married to such a jerk (which hubby himself has marveled at).
But his "good side" is just as big and bold as his bad side. He literally is generous to a fault (He has literally hurt himself to help friends). There isn't anything he wouldn't do for a friend, and if he's met you once, he probably will consider you a friend.
I tell you all this, because I can literally see my big, sweet bear doing something like this. He probably would come across as angry and judgmental - because he literally would be, in the situation. Later he would regret his anger and would apologize, if there was an opportunity to do so, whether the target was male or female.
Once, when a guy backed hard into our van in our parking lot (while we were stopped), he became so angry at the guy, I feared for our safety. He used more than a few choice swear words. Just calling his name "snapped" him out of it, but it was pretty scary to watch. The 20 year old guy who hit us was extremely polite and apologetic (Turns out the guy didn't have insurance and never paid for the damages. We later learned he lost his license as a result of unpaid damages in accidents he caused).
My rambling point is that it pays to have a WIDELY open mind regarding people's (especially stranger's) motivations. A seemingly "nice" person can be a serial killer, and a "jerk" might give you the shirt of his back (even while cursing you).
10-01-2013, 08:41 AM
Thank you all for your intelligent and thoughtful replies. I believe I have already said in a previous post that I have looked past his tone and heard his message. But I don't know that I was clear, so I will add that I'm not disregarding his message just to "get him back." I heard it, and it did come through, as it's coming through from all of your replies. And you all are right that it's ridiculous to choose to do or not do something as a form of ego preservation. That's just shooting yourself in the foot.
I hate to defend myself because I don't want to come off as defensive or angry, or that I'm ungrateful for the time you all took. I should clarify that I came on here looking for advice on how to deal with my then-current feelings about how to respond - emotionally - in private with myself (a plea for compassion), not on whether I should take this man's advice, which to me, was sort of besides the point.
Just so you all know:
1. I never walk in the dark or at dusk or dawn.
2. He clearly saw me at that moment well before he pulled over. My stroller is an enormous jogging stroller with small reflector strips on the front. It is, however, black.
3. When cars are approaching (note, I can always hear them well in advance), I move as far over as possible and usually on the grass. It irritates me also when people don't do this, although, as the driver, that's my problem.
4. There is little conclusive evidence that wearing reflective or light colored clothing during the daytime is effective at reducing hitting pedestrians. (I know this may be controversial for many people, but I don't want to get into a debate about it.)
5. The road is quite wide.
6. I have walked this road off and on for 30 years without ever feeling like I was about to be hit because I have taken the safety precautions I felt it was necessary to take.
7. I don't believe in excessive prevention of death, as do most people. We live in a culture of fear. Refer to the CS Lewis quote above.
So, to reiterate, yes he was a jerk on a power trip, but I still thought about what he said and yet I still have decided it is not necessary to make any changes at this time regarding my attire, nothing out of the ordinary besides what I pull out of my drawer, whether it be white or black. I have personally dealt with my original request (which I understand was not that clear) on how to overcome the extreme feelings that erupted from his confrontation with me.
10-01-2013, 09:02 AM
I get it, it's the interaction not the message that riled you. We live in a world where men have power and women have their looks and that's about it. It's an issue very dear to me and I've always struggled between being powerful, respected and looking beautiful. I want to be approachable but I don't want to be a push over. I want to be attractive but I don't want to solicit sexual attention. I think Mazzy was reading into his tone and making assertions into his prejudices based on how he made her feel in that very moment. She felt like she was being talked down to, and not respected in her own personal space.
There is a campaign called "Don't Tell Me to Smile" that you might find interesting. It basically addresses some harassment by men that may come across as compliments. We as women are not decorations in a man's eyesight, and it does get tiring to succumb to men's dominance. http://www.stopstreetharassment.org/2013/08/nosmile/
10-01-2013, 09:02 AM
He sounds like an a** having a bad day and trying to make himself feel better by "correcting" someone. Some people do have an inordinately brusque manner and it can be difficult to discern if they indeed are trying to be helpful, but this doesn't sound that way to me. You describe the situation as broad daylight, wide road, and you have reflectors on your stroller. It's a noticeable breach of etiquette for a strange man in a vehicle no less make a point to pull over and unpleasantly address a woman walking alone with a baby. I really don't think that personal space should be invaded, if you will, in that manner unless you were committing an egregious safety offense. I wonder if he would have said or done anything if you had, say, a husband walking with you -.- He might have been a short fuse nutcase, so even though it was really unsettling, it's best you just absorbed the annoyance, nodded or whatever, and let that guy go on his way. I completely get what you are saying.
10-01-2013, 09:39 AM
You did specifically ask, "Am I over reacting? What would you do? How can you miss seeing a stroller" Many people replied "yes, you are over reacting and here's why. Here is what I would do. Here is how you can miss seeing a stroller, and here is how to prevent that". Next time, should we just reply "yes." and leave it at that?
I do get what you are saying, though.
10-01-2013, 10:10 AM
wannabeskinny "it's the interaction not the message that riled you" YES
and toowicky, yes yes yes. Thank you.
newleaf, no, I wouldn't want you to change anything about how you all replied. You replied exactly how you read my post because I failed to be totally clear. I did not mean to imply that anyone posting had done anything wrong. you're right - I shouldn't have asked if I was over-reacting. In that one statement, I had zero compassion for myself. Which is probably the main reason why I even bothered to ask for advice in the first place. If I had accepted my reaction and honored it, I wouldn't have felt it necessary to look for compassion in other places. Totally my failing and something I've learned (not that most of you didn't reply with compassion). When I said, "what would you do?" I did not mean in terms of whether to do as he said or not. I know that I did not make that clear as I was still reeling from the interaction and I wasn't able to express myself as well as I should have.
10-01-2013, 10:43 AM
Personally I would not walk on on or near the edge of any road with a child in a stroller. It is certainly your right but I think it could result in a danger to both you and the child for many reasons.
A driver could be drunk,on drugs or innocently have a heart attack , or car malfunction swerve and hit you both.
Please find a better walking area or your problems could e much worse than verbal comments from someone.