This evening, walking along my usual route from the office to the train station, at the first intersection a car going the perpendicular direction had stopped in the crosswalk—and not because the driver had to stop suddenly after trying to make the light; it was red when the car approached.
This is fairly common at this intersection, for reasons that aren't pertinent to this. Suffice it to say: having to walk around cars that have pulled too far forward because the driver couldn't be bothered to anticipate there might be pedestrians coming. When it happens I walk around the car and think ill of the driver for a few moments and that's how it usually goes.
Tonight, as I approached, the driver—a woman probably in her 40s, I'd guess—glanced at me, and her first action was not to put the car in reverse. That she only did after I was practically around her car anyway. The first thing she did: reach with her right hand over her left shoulder and push the button on the door to lock it. (The car was a beat-up old sub-compact something-or-other, where the lock button was still at the top.)
I didn't think I looked all that intimidating. I was wearing a short-sleeve button-up shirt and black slacks. I concede I didn't shave this morning. Hmm.
I presume she would have done so regardless of what the person approaching looked like, and that it wasn't me in particular that she found (so to speak) threatening.
Frankly, I was slightly delighted to elicit a fearful reaction in a driver at that intersection. Typically the motorists who pull into the crosswalk are so oblivious that I am lucky if they notice me at all and don't run me over while making an illegal left turn on the red (it's a one-way street on to which they're turning). I always secretly harbor some fantasy of either chastising the driver about how they are a threat to those around them or of simply smashing in their window, pulling the keys from the ignition, and throwing them as far as I can. I never do anything more than walk by without even glancing at the inconsiderate driver (and, as noted, think bad thoughts about them until I reach the next intersection). I know it's not right to take any pleasure in seeming a threat to others, but as I know from any Halloween where I got decked out in full makeup, it's actually immensely fun.
What really amazed me was not so much that she locked her door, but how she exhibited absolutely no subtlety about it. She didn't reach casually, as though stretching; it was deliberate and sudden, in direct response to seeing me. The utter lack of tact (so to speak) almost made me want to leap at her just out of principle.
It was about time she learned the most important aspect of such situations: Don't show fear. We are animals, when push comes to shove; we can discern an opportunity for domination, even if it serves no benefit to us, and something inside inspires a reaction.
As I am not a predator, I kept walking, and didn't look, as per usual.
I know the most important aspect of such situations: Beyond being an animal, I am a pedestrian, and even a sub-compact piece of crap car could still mess me up pretty good if a scared little woman accidentally floors it. But I show no fear.