When I was first dating the woman who would eventually be my wife, she once asked me to do something I found very strange: “My sister needs to get gas,” she said. “Can you go with her to the gas station?”
This puzzled me. I was hanging out at her family’s place, and the idea that someone would need to assist her sister with going to get gas – the station was literally less than a quarter mile down the road – was strange to me.
“You mean, like, pay for it?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “I mean go with her. So she’s not alone.”
“Why wouldn’t she want to go pump gas by herself?”
“She didn’t ask for you to go,” she said, irritated. “I want you to go with her. And I want you to because she’s nineteen, it’s ten o’clock, and it’s a gas station.”
“What,” I said, laughing, “you think something’s going to happen? We’re out in the suburbs!”
She shook her head. “You’re such a boy. You don’t know anything about this. Just go.”
So I did. I sat in the car with her and stood with her while she pumped gas. It seemed an odd thing to do. But I started to wonder what it must be like: to be a small, young woman, alone, in the dark, with total strangers coming and going. I had never even considered such a place could be a threat to me. And, after all, it wasn’t quite the suburbs: her parents’ car had been broken into more than a few times.
Then, about three weeks later, there was a notice in the news: a young woman in Austin had been out jogging in an upscale, urban area, and someone had just snatched her off the street. They’d pulled up in a car, grabbed her, and drove off.
“See?” my wife said. “Do you still think I’m crazy to worry?”
I can’t remember if they ever found the woman.
–Robert Jackson Bennett on invisible lives.
Sorry for the long quote, but… yes. Yes, this. I don’t like walking around after dark, and I really don’t like walking around alone after dark, even in supposedly “safe” areas. And I’ve still had multiple men roll their eyes and treat this as if it’s some kind of silly unreasonable fear.
Women don’t roll their eyes. Women get it.