This past weekend the boy and I got into it over the fact that I don't like to walk around Hyde Park by myself after dark. I walk to work in the mornings, when its light out and there are plenty of witnesses around, but I take the bus home in the afternoons because it is pitch black here by 5pm (stupid winter in Chicago). I walked home the Monday after daylight savings, in the dark, and was a little creeped out but made it home ok. The next day I got a security alert email from the university detailing how someone had been held up at gunpoint at 4:30pm Monday on a street I use every day to get home from work. I walked down that street the same day at 5pm. That could have been me that was mugged. So, public transportation home after work. I also had a weird...encounter...with two big African American guys at about 7pm a couple of weeks ago walking two blocks to my friend Meredith's house for girls night.
I decided I had really become too reckless about walking around by myself after dark and I didn't want to do that anymore. The boy lives five blocks north of me but those five blocks aren't terribly well-lit or heavily traveled. I've been creeped out before and finally put my foot down and told him no, I will not be walking to his apartment by myself after dark. He has to come get me and walk with me, period. He bitched and moaned about this, and about my general reluctance to walk around by myself, etc. He's a guy. He just doesn't get it. Also, I am tiny. Five feet one inches tall isn't exactly intimidating to anyone wanting to hassle me, even if I do have pepper spray and a rape whistle (and even if I did have the presence of mind to use them in an emergency, which is doubtful).
Last night after work he was on his way to my apartment so we could walk up to his place together. He was on the phone with me and literally outside my apartment's front entrance when a crazy homeless guy punched him in the mouth. He's totally fine but we called the cops anyway to file a report and everything. They said they know of this particular homeless guy, who apparently pushes around a trashcan and has been known to attack people before, but they didn't catch him this time. Still, D got punched in the mouth outside my apartment because he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Alone. After dark. In Hyde Park. I believe my point has been made for me better than I ever could have made it myself.
Now I'm not saying I'm glad that this happened. I feel badly for D, who is totally fine. I definitely flipped out and was in total emergency mode, flying downstairs to take control, talk to the cops, tell them where we were located, etc. D's face wasn't even really swollen and he protested when I tried to get him to put an ice pack on it. Nothing was stolen and this homeless guy wasn't out to rob him or anything. Apparently the guy is just mentally ill and roams around the neighborhood, sometimes causing trouble. We're both a little shaken up and will now be much more careful (and on the lookout for homeless men pushing trash cans down the street). Still, I've got to hand it to the universe--it has fantastic timing.