pythonaphale (pythonaphale) wrote in bad_service,
pythonaphale
pythonaphale
bad_service

I'm just getting hugged far too often by a Big Issue seller on the street. It's not really bad service, but I feel like I need to vent about it, because there's no real avenue for me to complain.



"The Big Issue" is a great idea and a nice example of what I like about living in Britain. While it's not perfect, it's an efficient social solution that allows "homeless, vulnerable and marginally housed" people to make a legitimate income by selling a pop magazine. Big Issue sellers station themselves in areas of high foot traffic; there are three regulars stationed outside our place.

One of them is very friendly. I usually buy the issue from him. He's a big, boisterous, friendly guy who's always giving people high-fives, and is generally nice and harmless. However, he tends to grab me on the street - as in, he will actually single me out from other pedestrians who pass him, and he will physically grab me. He will take my arm and either pull me in for a forceful smushy hug, a noogie sort of thing, or a close kiss on the cheek. I don't like this. I usually try to pull away, dodge or turn it into a high-five, but the fact remains that he actively seeks me out, and I don't like unsolicited physical contact.

I do ask him to stop. He always hugs me next time. I think there are mental issues, and perhaps he just doesn't recognize me. He is somewhat physically intimidating, but he is just a harmless homeless guy. If I say something to the Big Issue people, they'll take his only source of income away, and I don't think the punishment merits the annoyance. Another female friend has the same problem with this guy, so she just takes an alternate route to avoid him. I'll probably end up doing the same. There's no malice or sexual intent, but I. Hate. Being. Grabbed. Regardless of intent. And escalating it (by slapping his hand off my wrist or arm, or pushing him hard when he hugs me) would send the message, but I'm not going to get even more physical.

On the other hand: It's just a hug from a nice homeless guy, Py. Swallow your blatant (white, middle-class) privilege and sit the fuck down.

On the third hand: If this man was a co-worker, or a religious pusher, or a worker in a store, I would have no problem calling him out, over and over, going to his supervisors, etc - and I wouldn't give a damn if a sexual harassment lawsuit took his only source of income away. Ditto if I was entirely sure that he's compos mentis.

So I think I'll just go "aarrrrgh" on Livejournal, because he gave me a hug/noogie today and I now smell like cigarette smoke and have a thousand rumpled-kittensworth of rage. Feel free to point out when/where I'm being an asshat/need to be more assertive/fail as a human being/feminist. There's a lot of fail to examine here, and a lot of it is mine.



ETA: I put the teal deer behind the cut. Thanks for all of your lovely, helpful and well-informed suggestions! I'm going to try to avoid this particular seller's pitch, because the anxiety from the hugging outweighs the inconvenience of dodging around my door like a frightened bunny. But because women on a public street should not have to feel like frightened bunnies, regardless of how socially awkward hugphobic and Pythonaphalesque they may be, and because the seller may hug women who feel differently, I've contacted the Big Issue with my concerns. I paraphrased some of your comments, because they were smarter than mine. ♥
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