The Man in the Gray Long Sleeve Shirt

A students horrifying tale of racism in the Queen City

| November 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

After having a long, hard day, I decided that I was going to do something that was going to make me happy. Who would have known that in the midst of me attempting to cheer myself up, I would be putting myself in one of the most dangerous situations of my life. Last Thursday was one of the worst days of my life. I was having a very bad day, after getting into an argument with one of my best friends. On top of that, I was late to all of my classes, and I missed an assignment. As the day progressed, I thought to myself and said ¨Could this day get any worse?¨.

It got worse. Around 6:00 p.m., I decided that I was going to go to the Boardwalk (located off of North Tryon, or off of W.T. Harris, depending on what side you come in from) to feed the ducks. Once I arrive at the Boardwalk, I get some food for the ducks out of the machine to feed them. I was feeding them for about fifteen minutes, and then I got tired of standing up so I sat down on the nearest bench. Five minutes later, this man sits down next to me. The man looked like he was in either his late 30´s or early 40´s. He had on a gray long sleeve shirt that gave me the same depressing feeling that the movie Titanic did the first time I watched it.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

He was alone, and by the look, he was giving me, you would have thought I killed his wife. As he sat down I halfway smiled at him, and he just glared back at me. Feeling uncomfortable, I just continued looking down at my phone, occasionally staring around at the ducks. As I was looking everywhere but in the direction of the man, I could feel him staring at me as intensely as a dog stares at you when you eat. Feeling incredibly uncomfortable at this point, I got up and proceeded to walk away. As soon as I got up he finally spoke, and he said ¨Excuse me, do you speak English?¨.

At that very moment, I got the most nerve wrecking chill through my body, and the entire boardwalk grew silent in my mind. I could not put my finger on why I got so uncomfortable, but something inside of me did not feel right. I was completely frozen and could not speak or move, but I could hear the man in the back of my brain continuously asking me if I speak English, each time getting more and more irritated. He then proceeds to say ¨I knew it, I knew you could not speak English. I work too hard to perfect this country for you and your friends to ruin it. Are you a DACA recipient?¨.

At this moment I was not able to process anything, nor speak because I still had that chill in my body, and the voice inside my head was saying leave now. As I start to slightly walk away again the man in the gray long sleeve shirt snatched my phone out of my hand and says “Come with me, we have a place for people like you, ¨ and reality slightly kicked in and I was able to start walking away, without my phone. This man followed me around the park for about thirty minutes. Conscience, alert, fearless me would have been able to go to someone and ask for help or go into one of the stores. But fearful, blinded and unresponsive me continued to walk around the park as if I was in a maze that I could not escape.

My common sense would not work, my voice would not work, nothing worked. Finally, a random man in the park stopped me and asked me if I was okay, and reality kicked in very quickly. I explained the situation to him and he brought me into a restaurant and informed a cop who was in the building of what was going on. The cop went outside and got my phone back, but the story that I gave him and the story the man in the gray long sleeve shirt gave him were two different stories, so he just told us both to go home.

The moral of the story is to ALWAYS trust your intuition. I am not sure what would have happened if I did not leave that bench as quickly as I did. Another lesson that was learned is although we are college students, in our early twenties, it is still very necessary to make sure you go places in groups. Do not go places alone, and be aware of your surroundings. This is a crazy world that we live in, and you never know what is going on in the heads of others. I experienced an awful hate crime, and I would hate for anyone else to go through the same thing. Protect yourself at all times, your life depends on it!

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Category:Lifestyle

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