"You practically hit me in the face with that magazine," he said.
This was a ridiculous lie, but I felt it would be a waste of time to point it out. "I'm sorry," I decided to say. "I didn't realize that was the case." I then walked around to the other side of the fixture. He continued to watch me over the top of the stand. Non-reaction, I guessed, was my best bet. He started saying other things that I couldn't make out, and I continued to ignore him. Then he very quickly walked over to me and said, "Do you even have a green card? Because it doesn't look like you have a green card."
"What?! You are going to stop talking to me right now," I said.
"I'm from immigration and I want to see your green card."
At this point, I was completely rattled. I walked over to the cafe staff and told them I was being harassed. Much to their credit, they used their headphone system to call a manager over quickly. The man yelled something and then walked to the music section, where he was approached by the manager. I bought a bottle of water, and when I handed over my money I found—much to my anger and embarrassment—that my hands were badly shaking.
After watching the manager speak to the man, I assumed he would leave. I sat down at a table, took out my laptop, and went through the motions of doing what I had come to do in the first place, which was write. Soon, the manager joined me.
"So I talked to that customer, and I guess you hit him?"
"What?! I did not hit him. He was standing near a magazine that I grabbed."
"Oh. Well, I told him if anything like that ever happened again, he should come and find a manager."
"I think you're missing the point," I said. "He was also making offensive racial comments."
"Oh, well then I'll ask him to leave then."
The manager went to talk to the man again, and the cafe manager came over to my table. "I'm really sorry," she said. "Here's a coupon for a free drink."
It was a ridiculous—albeit well-meaning—gesture, so I just said, "Thank you. I appreciate that."
I don't know if the man was, indeed, asked to leave. If he was, he didn't do so. He kept skirting the edge of the cafe staring at me, but I decided to stop paying attention. About a half hour later, it was time for me to pick the SU up at the airport. By then, though, it was completely dark outside. Had the man left? Was he crazy enough to be watching me through the cafe window and waiting for me to leave? Again I felt anger and embarrassment: I was going to have to ask someone to walk me to my car.
***Five minutes after leaving Borders and still thinking, of course, about what had happened, I saw some movement in the car to my left. I turned to look, and it was a twenty-something-year-old man who felt the inexplicable need to wave to me and display his ability to exercise his tongue in a highly offensive manner.
Now, this is something that every woman deals with on a fairly regular basis. On any other night it probably wouldn't have fazed me at all. But to be subject to sexual harassment right on the heels of dealing with racially-motivated insults was too much. By the time I made it to the airport, I was a highly demoralized person. Thank God for the SU, who is basically the only person in the world who inspires me to answer the question, "How are you?" in an honest way.
I have something to say to the next person who looks at me and sees a woman who is a doormat for ignorance or crude sexual advances:
I fucking DARE you.