By now you’ve probably seen the video that’s been circulating online of an attractive young woman who walks around by herself in New York City for 10 hours with a camera secretly recording what people say to her (below). Supposedly she gets “cat-called” over 100 times by men, few of whom are white. But, something rang hollow for me in this “shocking’ viral video. Many of the men seem to just be acting friendly, sociable and/or polite. It’s the same here in Oakland, especially with black and latino men. And, I think the reason is — with the blacks at least — is that so many of their ancestors come from the South. That’s a place I imagine it’s positivly rude to pass someone on the steet without acknowledging them in a friendly manner. So, almost all tip their hat or smile and say something nice to me, even the most rough looking characters. Do I ever get “hit on”? Sure, but not often. And, it’s a lot more subtle and generally in a much more charming manner than this video tries to suggest.
For me, all it takes is a smile and a “thanks but I’m taken” sort of response to get them to back off and say something like, “Aw, thanks anyway. Have a blessed day!”. After all, this is the Bay Area and it’s full of smart, sensitive, amazing people of all sizes, shapes, colors and genders. And, though I’ve not yet been to New York, I imagine it is the same. When you pass someone you “tip your hat” or say something like “good morning” or “hello”. People are people whereever you go. And, some are often bored, lonely and craving human interaction like the rest of us. It isn’t a crime to be lonely is it?
So, the next time you’re walking down the streets of Oaktown, try being the friendly one first, and tipping your hat first. I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised!