Apathy is a Disease

I feel ___After banging away at the keyboard for nine hours straight , I thought I’d give the ‘ol noodle a break, take a stroll down the seawall into English Bay, get a little ice cream from my favorite shop, and make my way back home. Early evening is one of my favourite times of the day. I especially love the buzz of Sunset Beach on a hot day, the array of picnickers on one side, frisbee catching dogs and their chasing owners on the other. I love the silvery giggles of jovial children teetering around on lush lawns, the rhythmic thumps of a nearby volleyball game, the whirring of passing rollerblades and bicycles, I take it all in. This is home. This is my neighborhood.

I decided to walk on the side of the street opposite to the beach to get home faster and over the music blaring in my ears, I could hear shouting. I looked to my right, and next to a bus stop teeming with young girls, a very tall, muscular man had his hands wrapped around a petite woman’s wrists, shaking her violently. I tore my earphones away from my ears, and stopped in my tracks to investigate. At first I couldn’t tell if the woman was grimacing or laughing, and once I saw tears flowing, I flew into action without even thinking. I ran across the street, and without knowing what I was going to do or say, I marched up to the entangled couple. I quickly glanced at her tiny wrists,  streaked with red marks and greenish bruising. Before I had time to calm myself, at the top of my lungs I screamed at him, “If you don’t take your hands off of her, I’m calling the cops!” He gripped her harder, pulled her closer, and told me she was being unreasonable. She started to beg him to let her go, but his hands were a vice. I pulled out my phone, stepped close, and told him I’d send my heel through his shin if he didn’t take his hands off her immediately. My language was tad more colourful than that, but you get the gist. In the background, I could hear people at the bus stop yelling at me, telling me to mind my own business, calling me a “nosey bitch”. He finally let go of one of her arms, but began to drag her by the other as she tried to fight him off. I started to dial 911, he dropped her arm, walked off and left her standing there, crying hysterically. She turned to me, told me her name is *Yoko, shook my hand, and thanked me. Yoko had a one-way ticket to Japan in her pocket, and she said she’d never be back.

When Yoko and I parted ways, it took every morsel of self composure not to march over to that bus stop full of apathetic imbeciles and shame them for doing nothing. But I said nothing. Anyone who knows me, knows I’ve never been very good at doing nothing. I was taught better. But what I can’t get over, was his indignation, the look in his eye, the entitlement. In the last month, I’ve had a few incidences myself. I’ve had men putting their hands on me at nightclubs, and on the street. I’ve had my wrists grabbed, my arms clutched and my sides pinched, all because I wouldn’t give them what they wanted. Yoko’s story is common, and I’m not okay with that. Let this serve as a warning to the next man who thinks it’s acceptable to put his hands on me, or a fellow sister, uninvited. And for those of you who stood by, as a man roughed up a woman a third of his size, right under your nose, you were simply an extension of his arms. Vancouver, apathy is a disease. Courage is the cure. Get some.

 

 

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