It's dark, and I am just leaving work. I'm bundled up for the ridiculously cold weather this weekend, with a scarf, long thick coat and a cardigan, but I am wearing professional clothes which, for my company, means a skirt and heels.
I've stayed behind a bit late so there's no one in the carpark, and as I totter across is (I never have got used to wearing heels) I can see a lorry parked at the gate. It's not for us, it's for the warehouses across the road, but it's lights are on and it rumbles quietly. Fuck.
I decide not to look at it and just walk past as quickly as possible. But sure enough, the horn beeps loudly and the lights flash at me, and I jump even though I was expecting it from the second I saw it.
I turn around and stare at it coldly. It flashes it's lights again and I continue to stare, right into the windshield where I can see the man grinning at me. I keep staring as he grows uncomfortable. He gives me a little wave. I keep staring until he looks away.
I turn around and march right up to the lorry. I give a simpering smile and motion for him to wind down the window. Then I launch into my speech. "Do you think I feel safe? Do you think I feel good walking alone, at night, near empty warehouses in a dodgy area? Do you think a huge lorry flashing it's lights and beeping at me reassures me? Would you like your daughter to get attention like this? Your mother? Has this ever worked for you? What do you get out of it? Go on, I'm asking. Why do you enjoy making women jump?"
I turn around and take out my phone. I take a picture of the registration plate, of the company logo. I make sure the man sees me do it. Then I wave and walk away. Maybe I will post it online. Maybe I will send it to his company in a complaint. At the very least, I make him panic.
I turn around and stick two fingers up at him.
Who am I kidding? I don't do any of those things. What I actually did was turn, flash a brief smile and hurry off. Then when I finally get to my train I sit and sulk and imagine all the other scenarios. Because at the end of the day, I am alone. At night. Near empty warehouses. With no CCTV. With no one who would notice me gone for at least three hours yet.
And this happens at least three times a week on that very road. If it's not a lorry, it's the teenage boys in the grey Audi from the fishing tackle shop. If it's not them it's one of about 20 men in reflective jackets who do something at a warehouse, god knows. If it's not them it's the bloke who rides his horse bareback up the road and then ties it to a lamp post near a bit of grass for the evening. If it's not him, it's the toothless old men who stand outside the pub at the top of the road smoking. If it's not them, it's the man who stinks of weed who always ends up on the same train as me. That is my journey home, from start to finish, in order, and all the men that take part in it. I will never have the confidence to stand up to them, or do anything about it, because it is one of *those* areas.
It takes me just under three minutes to walk to the station.