A man came to my door on Saturday and wouldn’t leave
A man I don’t know scared me.
That’s what this post is about. That’s it in a nutshell.
And when I say “scared me” what I mean is that I thought I was possibly about to get raped.
Three weeks ago, I was home alone on a Saturday afternoon. My husband was out, my five-year-old was playing at a neighbour’s house and my two little boys were asleep having their daytime naps. I was standing in the lounge room sorting washing when I heard the click of our front garden gate. Then I heard someone knocking on the laundry door downstairs. Our dog started barking madly so I locked him in the bedroom.
I wasn’t worried at this point. I thought perhaps it was Anne who lived next door.
“Hellooooo?” I called out, walking outside onto the veranda.
I could hear footsteps beneath the floorboards. Delivery drivers and couriers had a habit for dropping any packages or parcels underneath the veranda. At this point I wasn’t worried.
“Hello?” I called again, a little louder.
That’s when he appeared. All scruffy beard and laconic grin.
He was 20-something. Holding a clipboard.
I winced. He had one of those random electricity company logo shirts on.
“Oh there you are,” he smiled up at me, as I stood above him.
Internally, I rolled me eyes. I’d seen ACA enough times to know I was about to be asked to sign up to some energy plan from a company I’d never heard of with a shitty discount rate.
But before I could get a word out, the spiel had begun.
“I’m just here to ask if you’d like to save money…”
I cut him off. And in truth, I was probably a little terse.
“Look, honestly, I’m not interested. We’re happy with our current plan.”
I took a step backwards – the universal sign of “See, I’m going back inside my house now. Off you go.”
Except he didn’t go. He took a step forward.
“Are you collecting firewood?” he asked.
What? He was motioning his head towards a pile of tree pods on the lawn that my husband had collected. He took another step towards me.
“This is a great garden.”
“Mate, I’m not interested.” I was shaking my head at him.
What would you do if someone like this came through your garden gate?
He took another two steps – this time coming up the stairs to where I was.
“What’s that interesting smell downstairs?”
WHAT? He means the citronella candle thingy Anne had burning next door.
“No, no, no – mate. I’ve got kids asleep. I’m busy. I’m not interested.”
Now he looked pissed off.
“I just want to chat to you…” His tone had changed.
And so had mine. Now I was worried.
“Listen, I’m not interested.” Even I could tell my voice sounded panicky.
He kept walking up the steps. “What you don’t even have time to consider a chance to save money?”
GET AWAY FROM ME! I wanted to yell. But I didn’t. Instead I could feel my heart start to race as I began to panic.
I was alone in the house. The boys were asleep in the back rooms.
Did I leave the laundry door downstairs open? If I run and shut this door, can I beat him downstairs and lock the door before he gets there? If I race back inside and shut the door which way is he going to go?
He said something but I wasn’t listening. I was trying to formulate a plan. A plan called ‘how not to get raped on this Saturday afternoon’.
Was I being ridiculous? Possibly.
But all I could think was, if my worst fear is about to unfold, I had no chance. There were too many unlocked doors. I had sleeping babies inside the house.
I have no chance.
“I AM ASKING YOU TO LEAVE. JUST. LEAVE.” I heard myself say forcefully.
He paused. Thunder crossing his face. And then suddenly he turned to go, muttering something as he left.
I watched him leave. I didn’t take my eyes off him until I saw him walk up the street and turn. And then I went back inside my house, locked all the doors and cried.
I cried because nothing had happened. I cried because the reason nothing had happened is purely because that man, that stranger, had decided nothing would happen. My fate for those few seconds on the veranda steps lay with him. The ball was in his court.
And it always is.
I know the vast majority of men are decent and kind. I know that. I’m married to one of those men.
I also know that most likely the ‘energy sales guy’ had no intention of hurting me. Maybe he thought he was just doing his job. Being persistent. The problem is I didn’t know that for sure.
No means no when you’re an electricity salesman knocking on suburban doors.
And every time a male courier comes to the door, every time I get into a cab with a male driver, every time I enter a lift alone with a strange man or a group of blokes or walk through a car park or find myself alone with a man, any man, that I don’t know – I’m taking a leap of faith.
I’m crossing my fingers they don’t decide to turn on me.
As a woman, I walk this earth, live my life with the knowledge that I could pretty much be overpowered by a male at anytime.
And you know what? Most days I don’t think about it. Most days I’m fine and I don’t feel the least bit scared. But some days that reality really, really terrifies me.
I don’t really know what I’m trying to say with this post. Maybe I want to remind parents everywhere that we need to teach our sons how easy it is for a woman to feel scared and vulnerable at times simply because of their presence.
We need to teach our sons how important it is to be respectful. To read situations.
And we need to teach our sons that no means no. No means no when it comes to sex. And no means no when it comes to a sales call at 1pm on a lonely Saturday afternoon.
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Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.