Today in bike store happenings: 

 

A customer and her father have asked me to show them our bike carrier racks. I have ascertained from the customer that she wants a good, basic rack on which to carry her things for school. She has her bike with her. I have shown them our basic, everyday rack—the one we put on 90% of the commuter bikes we sell. 

 

ME: That's a good basic rack.

HER: Can I put a milk crate on it? 

ME: Sure you can—it'll be heavy, but if that's what you want, you can use bungee cords to attach it, or some people bolt them on. 

FATHER: But will it fit on her bike? 

ME: Looking at bike, which is a standard 700-C-wheeled commuter Oh yeah. We install about a billion of these on bikes just like this. You can leave it with us—there's a $10 installation fee—or you can install it yourself. 

FATHER: Is this the hardware? How does it fit?

ME: showing him It mounts here and here, above the axle, and then it bolts to the frame here.

FATHER: Are you sure it's going to fit? 

ME: Yep. Like I said, we install about a billion of these on bikes justs like this. 

FATHER: It's not going to sit too low? 

ME: Holding the rack where it will sit No, it will be fine. Look, it will sit just about here. 

FATHER: Can you ask one of the techs, please?

ME: Looking at my manager, who is 3 feet away Wil, is this rack gonna fit this bike? 

WIL: Glancing up from whatever he was doing. She just told you man, yes, it's gonna fit. 

FATHER: Thank you so much for translating that for me. I couldn't have understood her. 

WIL: Well, she was pretty clear, but it seemed like you were having a hard time. 

FATHER: Thank you. 

Later on, while he's paying for the rack:

FATHER: I didn't mean to offend you. I just wanted to be sure it would fit. 

ME: Oh, geez man, I understand. You just wanted to be sure. How could you know that I might know what I'm talking about? 

FATHER: Well, it's just that I wanted to be sure. 

ME: Deciding that forcing the issue will do no good.  Like I said, it's a standard rack, made for this type of bike. I think it'll work pretty well. Here's your change. Have a good one. 

~Exeunt CUSTOMER and FATHER~

 

* This is what Wil and I agreed, when I told him the customer hadn't wanted to offend me. I mean, why would I be offended when this is a known, historical truth? 

zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)
( Aug. 1st, 2012 12:43 pm)
 I have a little thing I try to do. I try very hard to make sure that if I buy a book by an author with given name like Neil, Jim, Terry, Robert, Fred, Vikram, or James, I try to buy at the same time, a book in the same genre by an author with a given name like Afua, Nalo, Elizabeth, Sarah, Lois, Patricia, Ursula, or Jo. 

Today, I completely failed to buy The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman, from my local small-chain bookseller, the Beaches location of Book City. I wanted a copy to take on vacation, because it seemed like it would be good vacation reading. I tried really, really hard to find a book in their admittedly small SF section that was by a living female author and that I had any desire to buy. There were a handful of books by Sarah Douglass, I think, and some reprints of books by Ursula K. LeGuin. There was probably some Ann Rice, and there was something whose only blurb was by Charlaine Harris. There was the inevitable Connie Willis, so I guess I could have bought that, but I didn't want to. There was a book by a Canadian author whose blurb was so leaden that I couldn't imagine the prose would be any better. I think there was probably some Mercedes Lackey. 

I could find nothing by Jo Walton, Elizabeth Bear, N.K. Jemison, Patricia McKillip, Robin McKinley, Nalo Hopkinson, Lois McMaster Bujold, Patricia Wrede, Jacqueline Carey, Sarah Monnette. I could find Greg Bear, Jim Butcher, Terry Pratchett, Jasper Fforde, Robert A. Heinlein, and a bunch of other dudes. 

The problem, from my perspective, was that if I wanted to uphold my own little policy, I'd have to buy a book by an author whose work I know I don't like, or buy a book that did not look appealing from an author about whom I knew nothing. The SF section did not have a sufficiently broad selection of female authors to present me with choices. 

So, I went to the library instead. 

I don't really have a coherent point to make about these two apparently unconnected incidents, but in my head they're connected, so I'm going to record them here and see what the Collected Wisdom thinks.

1) My Awkward Neighbhour

Since Ron, my next-door neighbour helped move my furniture in, I've struck up a guarded, but reasonably cordial interaction with him. He's frequently out on his front porch, so I see him when I go in and out of my place. He's chatty, and I'm polite, so we chat, some. 

A few weeks ago, I was away, and [personal profile] human_loser  came over to feed Musetta. Ron-the-neighbour was on his porch, and greeted [personal profile] human_loser  with some question like "Are you the pretty lady's boyfriend?" (I have been very clear to Ron-the-neighbour that I have a boyfriend). [personal profile] human_loser  reports that he gave a non-committal response, and went in to feed Musetta. 

This Saturday, another male friend came over, and we went out for dinner, then back to my place for tea and so that I could bake my mom's birthday cake. As we went into my house, Ron-the-neighbour was on his porch, and called out to me "That better be your brother!" I gave some rejoinder—something like "You wish you knew," and went in.

But it's bugging me. It's bugging me that this dude thinks he has any business questioning my guests or commenting on who comes and goes out of my apartment. And it's creeping me out, a bit, not because I think Ron-the-neighbour poses a threat to me, but because he's so obviously interested in my life and in my guests and he doesn't see anything wrong with this. Where are his boundaries? 

2) The King of Africa

Sunday, I took the aforementioned cake to my mom's (and from there to my grandmom's. Poor cake got a bit slumpy in the heat, but was nonetheless tasty). On my way home, I was waiting for the subway at Bloor & Yonge station, and found myself the object of the benevolent attention of the King of Africa. 

The self-styled monarch (or emperor? I'm not sure how that works), informed me that the print on my dress was based on an African pattern (this is possible, I guess. It's blue.), and that if I were to go to Africa (not any particular place in Africa, mind, just Africa), everyone would greet me with love and adoration, because of that dress. Of course, if I were to be wearing another dress, things might not go so well. Had I ever been to Africa? No, I assured him, I had not. Well, Africa was wonderful, and when I go there, he will go ahead of me, and tell them that I am wonderful and should receive the royal treatment. He was from Africa. He is a king in Africa, so they will have to obey him and give me the royal treatment. 

He took my hand and kissed it, repeatedly. He asked me if I would go to Africa with him. I informed him that I had to go home. He said "Not today! Tomorrow. But never do tomorrow what you can do today, because tomorrow never comes! It's always today!" He informed me that another time I may find him at the Friendly Thai on Yonge Street. He was going there now. I thanked him, and, gratefully, boarded the train that had finally arrived. Then I employed my hand sanitizer. 

Another woman watched this entire exchange. She moved away. A man kept an eye on it. 

3) You Can't Blame the Matriarchy

I've begun working part-time at my local bike store. I've shopped at the same store for 15 years, and I have a lot of respect for the owner and manager. It's one of the few stores that I will cheerfully send my female friends to, knowing that they won't be talked down to, they'll be treated fairly, and nobody will try to upsell them. I like the culture there, so I asked if they wanted to hire me to work the shop floor, and the owner and manager agreed that it would be a good thing for them to have a woman on staff. I am uncomfortably aware that I am the beneficiary of affirmative action—I don't know nearly as much about bike mechanics in general as even the least experienced of the guys on the floor, and I know that if I were a guy, they'd want to see previous bike-store or bike-mechanic experience. But they're all being very pleasant and patient, so that's good. The customers, on the other hand, are about evenly divided among three groups. One group (mostly women) is quite happy to talk to me, in particular. One group is entirely indifferent, as long as someone's helping them. One group mostly ignores me, and seeks out one of the guys. I can only assume that members of this group believe that only a dude can successfully explain to them how to pump up the tires on their bikes, or the difference between a road bike, a cyclo-cross bike, and a sports hybrid. *Shrug* 

So one day, a couple of 10-year-old guys breezed right past me, when I said "Hey guys, what's up?" and asked my co-worker where the pump was. My two co-workers and I exchanged wry glances. I wandered over to my co-workers and said "I blame the patriarchy." Then, of course, I had to explain what I meant. 

Later that day, I was booking a woman customer for a tune-up. She was pleasant with me, but ignored my co-worker when he bade her farewell on her way out of the store (we're a community bike store; we generally try to say "hello" and "good-bye" to people, at least when it's not so busy that we can't see straight.) He said to me "I'm trying to figure out what the opposite of 'patriarchy' would be. 'Matriarchy,' I guess?" 

"Yeah," I said, "Why?"

"Well, if you can blame the patriarchy when guys are rude to you, can I blame the matriarchy when girls are rude to me?"

"Not really, because there isn't really a society-wide matriarchy."

"Huh." 

So then we talked about how really, you can still blame the patriarchy when women tend to respond better to women than they do to men, and how "patriarchy" isn't the same as "men," etc. Then someone came in looking for a lock-ring, and that was that. 

So how all this fits together is that I don't think the guys in the shop deal with their neighbours commenting on the people they bring home. I don't think the guys in the shop have random strangers try to kiss their hands on the subway platform. And while they may occasionally deal with a customer like the tune-up lady or the very flustered lady who came in looking for repairs and said "Thank God there's a woman here! I hate men!" quite loudly, I don't think they have to deal with gendered rudeness or condescension to nearly the same extent that I get to (and this is in a shop where any overt misogyny, be it from customer or co-worker, would be firmly squashed on the part of the management.) And the fact that they don't deal with this is, to me, part of why my co-worker cannot blame the matriarchy that we don't have when a lady is rude to him. He can feel annoyed or disgruntled. He can roll his eyes. He can even blame the patriarchy for causing such deep distrust and disregard between women and men, if he wants to. I don't think he'd be wrong. It would certainly be a better world if everyone treated other people with respect and good manners. Somehow I think that women—even privileged women like me—deal with more gendered nonsense on a daily basis than dudes do. 
My new place has closets! Two of them. They're not very big though, and I have a lot of clothes, so for Christmas, my mom offered to go wardrobe/armoire shopping with me.* We found a suitable used wardrobe at a little second-hand furniture store, which I'll call Aba's**Furniture Grotto and Lampshade Emporium near the new place, and after some bargaining with the proprietor, arranged to have the piece delivered.

"The apartment is a second-floor walk-up, and it's just me there," I cautioned him. "You'll need two people."

"It's fine, it's fine!" he assured me.

Tuesday, we went to Aba's Furniture Grotto and Lampshade Emporium to arrange delivery, as we would be at the new place painting the bathroom. We also bought a tall dresser, so that I can use that instead of the two small dressers that I've had since I was a baby (and my mother had, as a teenager before me). Aba promised delivery. I reminded him about the stairs.

"It's fine!" he said "No problem!"

So off we went to the paint store and to the new place, to paint the bathroom, and other areas forgotten by the landlady's painter.***

My mom was back at the paint store, fetching more primer, when the doorbell rang. I went downstairs to find one guy on my doorstep.

"So, where's do you want this?" he asked me. I told him the apartment was upstairs, and asked where the second mover was. He said "Don't you have someone here?"

"I told Aba it was up on a second floor, and that it was just me," I said, "I warned him, and he said it was okay."

"Well," said the mover (I think his name was Frank, so we'll call him that for now.) "That's Aba. He's kind of shitty. Maybe your neighbour can help."

My neighbour was sitting on the porch of the house next door, enjoying his beer and cigarette. "Hey, man!" Frank said, "You wanna help me move this stuff up the stairs for your new neighbour? You, know, do a good deed for a nice lady?"

"I dunno," said the neighbour, "She pretty?"

"Yeah, man, she's actually quite attractive," Frank assured him.

At which point I said, "Dude, no. I'll move the damn' things myself, if I have to, but you are not having this conversation here, in front of me, and expecting me not to feel completely creeped out by this."

Frank just looked at me. "The dresser's really heavy," he said.

"Fine." I went out onto the porch, in my jeans and "5,000 Years of Patriarchy, and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt" t-shirt, hating myself, hating the furniture, hating Aba and Frank and as-yet-nameless neighbour dude. "Hi, I'm [[Zingerella]], your new neighbour. Am I pretty enough for you to help with this furniture? I could really use a hand."

The neighour's name is Ron. He allowed as how he could help, but made no further mention of my appearance. I don't think he read my t-shirt.

So Frank and Ron moved the dresser and the wardrobe up the stairs and into my bedroom. Frank, who seemed have brought his girlfriend or some female friend along with him in the truck, asked loudly if I was moving into the place on my own, then if I was single, or if I had a boyfriend. I wished I had a girlfriend, so that I could truthfully say that my girlfriend hadn't been available that night.

The wardrobe door swung open, hitting my nice brass candle-lantern thingy and breaking the shade off the arm (does anyone know how to braze brass? I think it can be put back together, but I don't know how to do it.), but without committing further damage. I asked Ron what kind of pie he likes, and promised him a pie in payment for his moving assistance, after I get moved in. For some reason, in my mind, if I give Ron a pie, we're quits, whereas if I just accept a favour from him, there's some sort of imbalance in our interaction, and he gets to expect that I'll be super-duper nice to him or something. I wouldn't feel that way if he hadn't asked if I were pretty, though. I mean, I'd still take him baked goods to thank him for the help, but it would feel pleasant and neighbourly, rather than transactional and necessary.

So now I have a wardrobe (which needs shimming), a dresser (whose handle needs re-applying), and a broken candle-holder which needs repairing. I also have an accent wall above my fireplace, a very bright green bathroom, a debt of one blueberry pie to my next door neighbour, and a set of complicated feelings about my furniture which mostly boil down to hating the patriarchy. I also have green paint in my hair, and, unaccountably, on my bra. 




* Note to online furniture vendors: Armour is something you put around something else (like your body) to protect it. An armoir is a free-standing cabinet in which you store things like clothing, linens, or televisions. Advertising an armour in which you can store things leads me to think that you're selling a pair of greaves stuffed full of socks, or some such. Amour is French for "love," and should not be used for storing socks at all. 

** Because that's the proprietor's name.

*** Who, unaccountably, left the area above the bedroom fireplace plain white, having painted the entire rest of the bedroom in the boring putty colour (I think it's called "Mountain Mist" or "Cloud Cover," or some such attempt to make light grey sound appealing) the landlady requested (after I thought we had agreed on sage green. Sigh.)

 Scene from today's voice lesson with the amazing [personal profile] sarcasma  (whom you can hear, incidentally, in this weekend's Essential Opera performance of Massenet's Chérubin. I highly recommend EO based on their last performance.):

We are working on "Why Do They Shut Me Out of Heaven?" which is one of Copland's settings of Dickenson. (Here's someone very competent singing it.) Sarcasma has been very patient while I grapple with the fact that Copland expected singers to just kind of pull notes out of chords that do not contain those notes and it's much more difficult than learning something by Mozart, darnit. 

Sarcasma: Now, because this is you, I don't have to worry about saying things like "What are these words about?" 

Me: Yeah. Patriarchy.

Sarcasma: *Sputter.* Yes. Okay, maybe I do have to worry. 

There ensued a fruitful discussion of the text and the interpretation thereof, during which we agreed that it really is about the patriarchy. So that is how I will sing it. 

Now, of course, I want to find more patriarchy-blaming soprano repertoire. Suggestions? 


zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)
( Aug. 17th, 2011 11:54 am)

More reporting from a Toronto High School: It's the 1950s now, so most of the "Baby Bags" have graduated. For context, I have just edited an entire page that lists all the citywide athletic championships that the Boys' athletic teams won.

Oh authors with your casual sexism! 

When the old auditorium was converted into the Boys’ Gym, the girls inherited the smaller upper gym. The gym rang with giggles and laughter at 3:30 most days while girls played whatever sport was scheduled. The girls’ teams also participated in Hi-Jinks, the Track and Field Days and Cadet Inspection Day. It was a huge honour to be chosen as a cheerleader.  It required stamina and quite a bit of athletic ability to do cartwheels and jumps in formation. The Drum Majorettes group was also always popular.  The 1952 squad was the largest in any school that year.  They performed at the annual Red Feather Tournament of Champions sponsored by the Community Chest (later the United Appeal). It had been organized to raise funds for needy Torontonians. The Majorettes also marched at Varsity Stadium at the City Football Championships and in the Santa Claus Parade.

N.B.: This is the pre-edited version. I'm fixing up the awkward phrasing.

Giggles and laughter! The Boys' teams won citywide championships. The girls giggled and laughed. 

Oh, 1950s. 

From a history of a local high school that I am editing:

During the war, the Girls' Club had become the War Services Club; the Girls’ Club was not reinstated after the war. However, a "Baby Bawl” was organized during the First Form initiation party in 1945. During the day, the girls went to class with their clothes on inside-out, wearing one long black stocking and odd shoes and sporting signs around their necks stating they were Baby Bags. At night, they returned, dressed as babies, to an auditorium bedecked with lines of baby clothes; the stage resembled a nursery. The poor Firsts were put through the horrors of a witches’ den, made to walk the plank and forced to endure other pranks.
 

I kind of love the matter-of-fact way that this is reported. The author maintains the same tone in discussing
  • the school's football victories,
  • the fact that while before WWII, the cheerleading squad consisted entirely of male cheerleaders, while the post-war cheerleading squad was co-educational, and
  • the arrival of a new music teacher and the growth of the school's music program.
Is that so much to ask?

So I've concluded that it may be time for me to buy a new bicycle.

I love my bike, I really do. I rode it almost all the way home from Ottawa. But I'm forced to admit that she's a heavy bike, and she's not doing me a lot of good. My fingertips get tingly when I ride for too long. And I ride a lot. Also, this year, I'm probably going to have to replace the tires, pedals, seat, and possibly the gears, by which time I might as well have a new bike, really.

My Current Ride
Grey and blue 2002 or 2001 Giant Sedona DX hybrid bike parked outside Grahame's Bakery in Kemptville, ON. Bike has fully loaded panniers and a front bag. Weather is overcast.


My current bike is a 17-inch Giant hybrid, designed specifically for commuters, where by "commuters," I think the bike companies mean "someone who hops on their bike and is at their workplace within half an hour or so." It's a pretty decent commuter/hybrid bike. It has mostly mountain bike features—wide tires, wide handlebars, lots of gears, some suspension in the front forks, and a wide seat—with a more upright, comfortable frame and posture. It handles reasonably well on lots of different terrain, and it's comfy and durable. Really. I haven't managed to break the bottom bracket on this bike, even once. So it's a great bike for someone who rides every day, and who doesn't stick to roads.

But over long distances, this bike has some serious drawbacks.

Cut for OMG bicycle geekery )

Still with me? Ring your bike bell if you've made it this far!

What I Want

Okay, so here's my list of specifications for a bike:
  • Good fit, which probably means women's geometry, though I'm willing to try some unisex models
  • Lightweight, which probably means road-style, though I'll entertain flat handlebars as long as the bike's geometry takes the weight off my wrists and hands, and the posture isn't too upright
  • Tires that are a reasonable compromise between stable enough for some unpaved roads and smooth and narrow enough to reduce some of the resistance I currently encounter. This means that the wheels need to support a slightly wider tire
  • Strong enough to withstand some time on unpaved roads, and to be fully loaded for travel
  • Eyelets on the rear wossname (the thing that houses the axle and holds the wheel in place) so that I can put a rack on my bike
  • More than 10 speeds. I use all 18 on my current bike, but I admit that I don't use the very top or very bottom very often
  • A less upright posture so I spend less time fighting the wind
  • Ideally, one of them there modern steel frames, so that I can have some shock absorption without needing actual shocks. Aluminum is light, but tends to be really rigid. Your modern light steel gives a much gentler ride, I'm told

This leads me to believe that I need either a cyclocross bike or a touring bike, probably. There are one or two hybrids I'll try, but most hybrids seem to assume a more casual rider than I tend to be.

And Here's the Feminism

So, recognizing that I really want a Terry Bike, but cannot right now afford the price tag on such a beast (and also, Terry seems to have discontinued the Madeleine, which really looks like the bike I want, oh yes she does), I wandered over to my favourite bike shop to see what offerings they have.

Cut for disappointment. Sad cycle hoyden is sad.  ) 

I guess women are just a niche market.

So, if anyone finds a used or new Terry Madeleine with a 26-inch step-over (which probably means a size S frame), let me know, okay?
Possibly lost true love. The Terry Madeleine, a relaxed touring bike in light blue and white paint, with drop handlebars.
 
And if I come into a sudden windfall? I'm so going custom.


You know where is not a good place to try to pick people up?

Okay, I know, there are many such places, among them the office, your class (if you're a teacher), and pretty much anywhere if you're a politician. But somewhere near the top of the list should be the waiting room at your medical clinic.

And if you're a men's rights activist, do you know who is even less likely than any other random female who was minding her own business and reading a book to want to get a drink with you after her doctor's appointment?

Okay, I know there are many such women. This is, after all, the waiting room for a doctor's appointment. Also, you are, after all, a men's rights activist, which means you're probably, though not certainly, an entitled, self-important douche with no sense of history, no understanding of your own privilege, and no notion that your advances might be unwelcome. But really, once someone tells you she's a radical feminist, you really should just cut your losses and pick up an outdated magazine.

Or did I miss a memo, and is Wednesday afternoon at the medical centre kind of like Wednesday Night at the Laundromat?

The longer version. No punchline, I'm afraid. )

 





 
One of the consistent arguments against progressive legislation, from both some conservatives and some radicals is that you can't legislate changes in attitude, and that changes in attitude will drive better, more equitable practices and policies. Policy alone fails to address inequity, and can create a backlash when it seems to require accommodations or changes that some people perceive to be unnecessary or that threaten people's status or ideas.

I don't get why attitude/policy is an "or" question. I believe that you can both create (and enforce) policies, such as equitable hiring policies, that address injustice and educate and communicate to change attitudes. Furthermore, if you really want anything to change, you need to do both, at the same time. You need to craft policies, such as accessibility policies, or diversity policies, or harassment-free workplace policies, that address inequities. You need to enforce these policies. But you also need to provide the people responsible for enforcement with the training and support they need to understand what the policies are supposed to accomplish and the issues that drove the creation of the policies. In addition, and most importantly, institutional support for the policies and the philosophies driving them needs to come from the top. If the powers in charge of an organization do not fully and intelligently support a policy, then the people responsible for implementing it will, at best, not have access to the resources they need, and at worst, wittingly or unwittingly undermine it. The problem is not whether you should use policy or education to change the status quo. It's how you should use each to reinforce and promote the other. You have to do both.

Over at FWD/Forward, Abby Jean succinctly and intelligently explains why it's not enough to make policies that encode principles based in social justice:

For an easy example, imagine a company with a policy that required that all newly hired employees be informed about their right to workplace accommodations for mental or physical disabilities. The company works with disability rights groups to create a pamphlet outlining who is eligible for accommodations, what potential accommodations may be available, and the procedure for requesting accommodations and documenting a need for them. The disability rights groups make sure all the information is correct, that the pamphlet is available in alternative formats so it’s accessible, and that it emphasizes that accommodations are an employee’s right, rather than a bonus provided by the company. It is, in short, the perfect pamphlet.

Now imagine how much depends on the person who hands that pamphlet to the new employee. Take one scenario: the employee goes through a complete orientation and then is asked to wait in the lobby. When the employee asks why, the receptionist sighs “oh, it’s some stupid thing required by company policy. Just wait.” After 15 minutes, the designated human resources staffer comes out and thrusts the pamphlet at the employee, saying “Here, take this. It’s something I have to give you for policy. You have to sign here to show that I gave it to you.” When the employee asks what the pamphlet is about, the staffer replies “Oh something we have to do for disability, or whatever. Nobody is ever stupid enough to ask for any of these things, believe me.”

 

Read more... )

There's a Tim Horton's almost across the street from my house. This means that at any hour of the day or night, I can look out my kitchen window, across the laneway and the parking lot, and see a police cruiser parked across Danforth. At eight o'clock in the morning, when parents are dropping their kids off at the school across the street, there's a police car there. At three o'clock in the afternoon, when people are enjoying the sun, buying veggies, and walking their dogs, there's a police car there. At seven o'clock in the evening, when I'm making dinner, and kids are playing in the square while their parents chat on the benches, there's a police car there.

Yet strangely, there's rarely a police officer present when I want one. During the wee hours of Sunday morning, for example, when a fine upstanding member of society is discussing the things she knows about things one can do with specific parts of the male anatomy, for example, nobody comes along to remonstrate with the individual or to ask her not to break the peace.

And last night, around 9:40 p.m., there was not a police officer to be seen.

I know.  I was looking for one. I saw old men meeting for coffee, and teenagers going for ice cream, and pseudo-hipsters hitting the cafés. I saw dog walkers and families. But I did not see any officers of the law.

See, DanceMistress had taken me out for dinner to thank me for putting her up. We'd had a nice dinner, and were headed back to my place, walking along Danforth from the subway station. She needed to acquire some Canadian cash, so we stopped at a bank machine. As we left the bank, a man enquired as to how our evening had gone. Being city people, and therefore not friendly at all with random importunate strangers, we ignored him, and he walked on by. Whatever. Danforth's busy that time of evening, and apparently people cruise even on a Monday.

DanceMistress had not been able to get any money from the machine (there had been some difficulty with her card), so we went into my bank, so that I could get some cash to spot her. Our importunate stranger was lounging outside my bank as we entered, and as we emerged, he again attempted to strike up a conversation with us. We ignored him, and continued.

He followed.

He followed more closely.

We ignored.

He asked one of us if we wanted to get freaky with him.

We ignored, and walked past the patio of a pub.

He asked why we had a problem with him.

I explained, in short words, that I had not asked him to speak to us, and that he should go away, as we walked past an open café.

He asked if I cared if he smoked. I said I did not care for anything he did, and that he should go away. We continued past another pub. He continued to follow us, as we got closer to the corner where Dictionopolis is located.

So I said to DanceMistress, who was becoming visibly tense, "I believe we'll just duck into Tim's for a coffee," and she acquiesced. Our follower stayed outside, waiting outside the door of the brightly lit doughnut shop, across the street from the square that is across the street from my house.

And of course, once I was inside, I looked for a police officer. To no avail.

So we went out the side door, and looped around through the schoolyard, across Danforth, through Carrot Common, and along the path from the subway station, to come at the house from an entirely different direction. As we approached the house, I could see the corner where we'd left him staring at the fountain across the street. He'd given up—I assume he'd found someone else to harass, and I'm really hoping it wasn't the three teenaged girls who passed us, going into the Tim's as we were leaving.

I should perhaps have warned them.

So, I ask you, what on Earth is the point of having a Tim Horton's across the street, if you can't find a police officer when you're being followed home by a creepy stranger?
.

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