I often tell ‘people’ – meaning white people – shocked by
the extent of police violence against Black people, the only difference between
what the police are doing today and 50, 100, 150 years past is the cell phone!
And I’ve often used the cell phone to ‘protect’ me – as
when someone is trying to run me off the road, or driving aggressively, which I’ve
done once already on this trip. I merely hold the phone up and pretend I’m
taking pictures or videos. Usually the site of the phone is enough to make the
driver take off.
Tonite, or should I say in the wee hours of the morning
around 3:00am I head to the bathroom at the very quiet and dark rest stop. I am
aware of a young white man walking behind me and assume he will head to the
opposite side of the building to go to the men’s room.
He doesn’t drop off but makes like he’s going to enter
the women’s room right behind me. I stop, examine the ‘women’ sign again to
confirm I’m going into the women’s room, and then silently point it out to him,
thinking he’ll be embarrassed but will head in the right direction.
This guy is tall, average build, with short black hair,
blue eyes wearing jeans and a blue and white plaid shirt. He peers at the
“women” sign and then defiantly proclaims he is a woman. I have been holding my
cell phone in my hand and now I pretend to be videoing him. He rushes to
declare he is a “trans” woman and he’s allowed to use the women’s room in this
I glare at him, my mama bear anger rising to take care of
me. I tell him I’m live now on facetime (I’m not even sure that’s the right
program) and I tell him I’m happy to broadcast his choice of bathrooms over the
internet. I ask him to tell me his name and where he’s from – but I’m asking a
rapidly retreating back.
I follow him out of the building and down the sidewalk,
watching – and pretending to film – all the way to his truck, which he has
jumped into and started up. I walk faster to get his license plate but he has
taken off – it’s too dark anyway. I see him head back onto the highway and figure
I’m safe to pee now – it would take him quite awhile to make a u-turn on the
freeway and get back to this rest stop.
But I don’t spend the night here. As tired as I am, and
as sure as I am that the cell phone protected me this time, I don’t want to be
sleeping here if he returns.