I’m sitting in a small cafe in a small, safe Pennsylvania town. I’m writing a friend a very long email while also working on writing a blog post. An older man, probably in his 60s, comes into the coffee shop. It’s rather busy, but not very. He stands right next to my chair and in the main walking area, inches away from me. He keeps looking at me, looking down my shirt from behind me, but stares down at his phone whenever I glare at him. I cough. I move my chair across the floor very loudly. I get up, push my chair into his space, excuse myself, pull out a book from my backpack. My email conversation with a friend is, ironically, about casual, low-level sexual harassment and how differently men treat us when we’re on our own versus with a male companion. He’s right over my shoulder, and I’m so deliberately trying to keep my computer to myself. Finally, I take my headphones off.
‘Pardon me,’ I say firmly, ‘but would you mind giving me a little more space? It makes my uncomfortable when someone’s right over my shoulder when I’m writing.’
‘Oh.’ That’s his response. He shifts a few inches. ‘Is that enough?’