Panic After A Pickle With A Portuguese Man

It was not only in the accommodation I was living in that I was having challenges that came from men who did not seem to realize how uncomfortable they made me. I published this post a while ago, but it describes an incident that occurred during the time I was in my first “tied-accommodation” post and facing almost daily harassment:

I had a little incident with a man today.  I was in a bit of a pickle and I panicked.  Now, I am wondering if I over-reacted, and I feel bad.  You can judge me…it’s alright.  I am aware that I did not handle the situation perfectly.

I had just jumped off the tube when a stranger brushed against me and then immediately apologized.  I replied, “No problem”.  As we came down the steps he was looking at me and smiling.  When we reached the end of the steps, he put his arm forward and touched my arm and said “this way”.  I was just a tiny bit freaked out.  He would not know why I have reason to react awkwardly to a stranger touching me.  I looked at him and clearly told him “no thanks”.  I very deliberately walked the opposite way straight into the newsagents within the station, WHSmith, even though I didn’t need to buy anything.


Once I was in WHSmith, I looked at a few items I sometimes pick up on my travels.  I decided there was no point buying anything right there and hoped now I could just carry on with my journey.  As I was leaving the shop, he was standing there in front of me.  I may have been imagining it, but he seemed to be watching me.  He smiled at me and said “Hi”.  I said “Hi” and walked out with a very quick pace.  He had not done anything terribly invasive, but for some reason, he had triggered my panic buttons.

I walked through the barriers and then did a U-turn to head up to the busiest part of the street even though that is not where I was headed.  I just needed to know there were other people around.  I had panic running up and down my spine telling me not to go anywhere isolated.  I was walking so quickly that my silly little shoes kept sliding off my feet.  He ran up beside me and he asked me if he could have some shelter under my umbrella.  I gave him a look which I thought said “not on your nelly!” which he did not seem to interpret correctly.  (Now I was starting to feel trapped).  He asked me to walk with him towards the bus station.  I told him I was going the opposite way.  He said that was fine, but he carried on walking with me.

portuguese tartsHe told me he is from Portugal and asked me if I had ever been and would I like to go.  (I have many Portuguese friends and know a few Portuguese expressions but did not tell him anything.  Even my sister Mandy has learnt enough Portuguese to have conversations about art and order a few pastéis de nata when we are in town together.  We even have Portuguese connections through marriage.  Our Helen married a very handsome Portuguese man and then when his best friend came over from Portugal for the wedding he met one of my best friends Laura…and it was happily ever after for them too.)  I was not liking the attention from a complete stranger so I did not respond to his questions.

He decided to ask me where I was from.  I said Liverpool – that is where I amUmbrella from, although I have not lived there for over ten years.  He then put one of his hands on my umbrella very firmly.  He asked my name.  I was starting to feel very threatened.  His grip on the handle of my umbrella was so strong.  (Maybe he wanted the umbrella and was not really interested in me.)

I told him that I knew he was just being friendly, but that I was not comfortable sharing any more information about myself, because he was a complete stranger.  When he objected, I just confirmed it was a no saying, “I don’t mean to be rude and please don’t take it personally, but this is the world we live in today”.  He told me that although we were strangers he would like to get to know me.  He asked if he could take me for something to drink or eat.  I cried “no thank you, I am headed to meet friends”.

He asked me if I was going shopping.  I was starting to get a bit frazzled.  He offered to hold my umbrella for us so I could rest my arm.  Again, I declined, “thank you but I am going inside now anyway.”  My umbrella has a button in the handle that pulls it in, so I clicked it.  He said he would like to talk to me until I met my friends and maybe we could go for a drink another time.  He then asked me my name again.  I felt like crying, “I am sorry, but I have told you I don’t feel comfortable simply because you are a stranger.”

I saw two security guards in big hi-vis yellow coats and ran towards them.  I didn’t say anything to them.  I just stood beside them until the man who had been walking with me backed off.

I know I have a very good reason to be nervous around men I don’t know…but do you think I was rude???  Do you think I over-reacted?

There is not much I can do about it now…I am just feeling a bit unkind.  Yet at the time I really wanted to get away from him and he did not seem to pick up on the vibes I was sending out.  I thought I was making it very clear that it was a no!  I was saying no and he was not listening.  He just made me feel more and more uncomfortable.

I know some women would not have minded, they perhaps would not have felt as threatened as I did.  It’s just after that night in the park, I have panic buttons I did not have before.  He triggered them all.  I ended up feeling like a hedgehog or porcupine with all my sharp needles bristling!  It is funny because my lovely Goldfinch was a complete stranger when I met him, but he did not make me feel uncomfortable.  He certainly did not trigger any of my panic buttons.  Aaaah, Goldfinch…I forgot I was going to tell you about the lovely day we had together on Wednesday.

I am not going to let myself brew on this one.  Perhaps the Portuguese stranger was a lovely man.  I did not feel comfortable though.  For whatever reason, I had every right to say “No thank you!”, just as I did with my workmate in “Icky Sticky”.


What a shame this is the world we live in.  I really don’t like feeling as if I have been rude to someone, but in this world, there are times when you have to be on the defence, cautious and you have to flee to a point of safety.  When you are in a pickle that makes you panic…just run to safety.  That is one of the reasons hi-vis jackets were created…for moments when a stranger crosses the line and we turn into damsels in distress.

(Thanks hi-vis jacket designers…these are my go-to whenever I have a panic moment!)

53 thoughts on “Panic After A Pickle With A Portuguese Man”

    1. Thank you…I can’t bear to be unkind, even to a stranger. But as I mentioned, I was just not at all comfortable. There are some settings when and where you might feel safe to have a conversation with a stranger and see what comes of it, but everything he did and said made me feel threatened.
      Uggghh….world….scary place!!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I used to commute into Boston daily on the train, and no one ever spoke or hardly made eye contact. It was an unwritten, understood rule. I can’t even imagine someone behaving like he did in New England!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think on the whole it is similar in London…we can all be squished together like sardines in a can if we travel on the Central Line during rush hour…but people behave. I have had a few incidents with scary passengers, but usually I just jump off the bus or get up and move to a different seat and then the trouble is over. This is the first time I have been followed once I have left the station. We walked for several minutes before I entered the shopping center / mall and saw the security guards.

          Liked by 2 people

  1. That man was totally inappropriate!!!!! Creepy, psycho stalker.. What are u feeling bad about. I can’t believe you tolerated him as much as u did. You were polite to him and far from rude.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am always in hope that people just don’t realize why what they are doing is wrong. It’s hard to tell what is going on in other people’s minds. Do they have malicious intent? Do they think they are being spontaneous and romantic? I cannot worry about it. I do try to be me…hopelessly lovely to anyone I happen to cross paths with. But there are times when I have to remove myself from someone because of their behaviour.
      I will admit to you…it frightens me how many people are out there who who are isolated emotionally and socially with a degree of loneliness that is causing them to lose balance. Some just have never been educated in what is and what is not acceptable with regards how to treat others.
      I try to treat everyone in a lovely way…but at times…in this world, I have to run run run far away from some people.
      Thank you for your lovely comment though. So far everyone thinks what I did was fine and I should not worry about it.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. You weren’t rude and you didn’t over-react. Some guys are just brutish like that. Better to be safe than sorry. Things can turn bad really quick. Instincts about your own personal safety are usually right. I would never approach anyone that I didn’t know in such an aggressive fashion. Some people are just clueless in that area. You did right.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I heard the author of the book The Gift of Fear talk and one of his comments stayed with me. That was to pay attention to those instincts or intuitions we feel, especially regarding our safety. No other animal ignores it. Women in particular are at risk because they want to “be nice,” so they’re more likely to remain in a situation they should turn away from. That can put you in danger. He chose to press himself into your space. You told him no. You had every right to rebuff him. And to up your response when he continued to press. Your response was appropriate. If anything, you might want to learn how to cut it short more quickly. Forget “polite.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You were correct in what you did and you don’t need to feel that way at all! Being polite and lovely to everyone is alright but not at the cost of your own safety. You have already repeatedly let him know your intention and it was he who was being passively rude and annoying you inspite of your denial. If he was a good guy and did not mean anything offensive, he’d definitely understand your reaction.☺Don’t think so much about it girl ❤ In my opinion, your reaction was very apt to the situation.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you for the nomination 😊 I guess this is a way for us to know each other better. I’ll be working on it soon 👍

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I think you acted appropriately considering he wouldn’t take no for an answer. I would have done the same or perhaps been even more forthright. “Sir, I am not interested. Please leave, you’re making me very uncomfortable.” Going to the security guards was an excellent idea!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t think any man with good intentions would have acted in such an obnoxious manner. They know better. They deliberately make us feel off balance so we question whether we’ve been to harsh. It’s always them being too forward. Always!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In all honesty, I think there were many times I did overreact (some where very much justified) so it did keep me safer. My sense of caution was so strong after what had happened to me a year before.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s certainly understandable. He should’ve backed off for sure. I’m glad you’re okay and found safety. Your story is quite a journey! You are so amazing. Always looking for your next post! 💜


  7. I think you did the right thing and reacted the best way you could. If he had good intentions he would’ve understood – because he overstepped the line on multiple occasions you were right to respond how you did. Good thinking with the security guards!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a weird situation. But I have had a few similar situations. Even last night as I was leaving work, a man – a complete stranger came up to me with a phone showing some pictures of himself posing, and asked if I would like to go out with him.
      I said no. As I was locking up the building he stood next to me asking me why not – so I just ignored him. Then he got onto the bus (I decided to wait for the next one) and I saw through the window that he had walked up to another woman and was showing her the photo on his phone too.
      All rather weird – but that’s only my opinion.


  8. You did the right thing going to the security guards. Men can be predatory. They don’t want to believe that no means no. Never think that saying no to a man is rude. I’m glad you’re safe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Completely safe. I think I was very easily rattled by men after what had happened to me a year before. Sometimes I doubted myself and questioned whether I was misjudging situations and overreacting.
      Thanks Kathy 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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