Sunday, September 23, 2007

trouble

Last night, at midnight, I was riding the stationary bike in the hotel gym, when a Caucasian guy in a white baseball cap walked past outside.

He was 5'11", in a white sporty shirt and khakis. He stopped a few feet after passing the glass door, turned around, and gave me a long look. He waved. I waved back. He turned around and kept walking.

Over the next five minutes, he walked by the glass door two more times, and then he came into the gym.

The hotel gym is rectangular, just big enough to fit three treadmills, two exercise bikes, and a couple of weight machines. I was in the corner on one of the bikes, next to the glass door. There was no one else in the room. After the baseball cap wearing guy came in from the far door, he stood ten feet away, watching the football game playing on the television.

He started making chitchat with me. He's in town to watch a football game with his favorite team. I asked where he's visiting from.

    Him: "Colorado."

    Me: "What do you do there?"

    Him: "I work for the Department of Homeland Security."

Normally I would just smile politely. But it's Honesty Week, so...

    Me: That's a terrible, terrible organization! You are a terrible, terrible person!

But I was smiling, so he didn't take it too badly. He asked if the pool was open, if the hotel has a jacuzzi, if I would like to go to the jacuzzi with him. I said no, yes but it's closed, and no thanks. If I were truly following Honesty Week, I would have said, "It's nice having a cute guy talk to me during my boring workout. But nothing is going to happen, because I'm not up for any kind of sketchy hookup with a stranger in a foreign town."

But I didn't.

I noticed he was keeping his left hand in his pocket. I made a point to look at his hand the next time he took it out. As I suspected, a metallic band flashed on his ring finger.

It's Honesty Week. So I decided to confront him.

    Him: "Can I convince you to go to the pool with me?"

    Me: "You're flirting with me, but you're married. What's up with that?"

    Him: [sheepishly] "Yeah. It's kind of bad, isn't it?"

    Me: "Well, would you be upset if your wife was also in a gym hitting on someone, the way you are right now?"

    Him: "Yeah."

    Me: "Then yes, it's bad!"

    Him: "[mumbling] I don't know. I just saw you in here, and I wanted to come in and talk to you."

    Me: "Why are you doing that when you're married?"

    ... A few more minutes of this, during which he said he's been married for five years, and that he and his wife are separated (yet they still live together) ...

    Him: [long pause] "I guess I shouldn't bother you any more. Sorry. I'll just go now. [starting to walk away]"

    Me: "Good night. I hope you enjoyed your football game."

    Him: "Good night."

His footsteps disappeared out the far door toward the pool area. I returned back to my book, an excellent guide on writing mystery novels.

Five minutes later, I heard the door creak again.

    Him: "I've decided it doesn't matter that I'm married. I'd rather come back and hit on you."

    Me: "No! Go call your wife and work on your marriage!"

    Him: "Can't I just stay here instead and hit on you?"

    Me: "No."

    Him: "Fine. Fine, I'll leave you alone."

He walked out. The door closed.

A minute later...

    Him: [walking back into gym] "I couldn't leave. I had to come back and talk to you some more."

It began to dawn on me that I was alone in the gym with this persistent guy past midnight. A pit of nervousness developed in my stomach.

Two men in orange football jerseys walked by outside. They saw baseball-cap guy through the glass door, and made gestures at him. He left the gym to go talk to them.

I decided this was my chance to leave. I exited the door and walked through the pool area. A few steps from the pool gate, I looked up and spotted the three men in the distance. They were standing right in front of my hotel room door. I pictured what would happen if I walked into my room in their view. At 2am, I would get a knock on the door. "Are you sure I can't just come hit on you?"

I walked back into the gym and drank a glass of water. When I came out, the coast was clear. I slipped out the pool gate toward my room.

And nearly ran into baseball-cap guy, coming from a side walkway back toward the gym.

"Do you want to go for a run?" he said.

"No," I said. "I'm just going back to my room."

I then walked straight past my room, toward the lobby.

I spent the next five minutes walking in a huge circle around the perimeter of the hotel. Every couple of minutes, I glanced behind me to make sure he wasn't following me.

When I decided it had been long enough, I turned around back toward my room.

Just as I passed the parking lot, I heard a screeching of tires behind me. I turned around. A grey car pulled to the curb near me, fifteen feet away. The back door opened as the car was lurching to a stop, and a man in an orange jersey tumbled out. I recognized him as one of the guy's friends. Someone in the front seat yelled very loudly, piercing the night with his shouts, "Roll! Roll!"

I spun around and ran full-speed back to my hotel room.

So I guess I went for that run after all.

When I reached my door, during the few seconds after I inserted my room key into the lock and was waiting for the three LEDs to flash, I looked behind me. There was no one.

It was uncorrelated, possibly. Maybe his friends convinced him to give up talking to me, and play some game where they tumble out of cars. Maybe his friend was about to vomit, and they pushed him out of the car.

These theories did not ease my nervousness while I stared at the door lock. Never have I so welcomed the green flash of an LED light activation.

I was grateful for the hotel room having a deadbolt.

30 comments:

Dustin said...

Yikes. It's odd how the guy couldn't help but come back and talk to you though he knew it was wrong.

Strider Aragorn said...

Glad you're all right. He just proved your point about people from the Dept of Homeland Security being bad people.

Anonymous said...

wow... great horror story

Hope you have no trouble flying though.

Anonymous said...

WoW! Is it true or an exercise from the book you were reading? If true, I hope it will be your last such experience. Never imagined how difficult it could be for women even in a developed country in public place like a hotel.

ArC said...

Wow, scary.

Hope that never happens again, but if it does up to the point where you go to the lobby, maybe you should consider telling them 'bout that guy and get security to escort you to your room. (or call the front desk from your cell phone right in the gym, actually.)

Adam Lasnik said...

I'm sorry that crap happened to you, Niniane, and I admire how you handled the exchanges with honesty and forthrightedness.

I'll agree with Arc, though, that it's a shame you didn't seek help or -- more importantly -- report the harrassment. Because that's what it is, and jerks like that not only give the rest of us guys a bad name (cliched but true), but also are unsurprisingly apt to harrass others. And at risk of overdramatizing the situation, it wouldn't surprise me if such folks had a tendency towards violence... making it even more important to have hotel security keep an eye on them.

Yes, I know that making the world safe isn't your responsibility, nor should such an obligation be forced upon women on the whole. It does seem unfair. On the other hand, it makes me cringe to know that jerks like this can harrass folks seemingly unchecked.

Anonymous said...

OMG, report him.

A man builds persistence and strong come on's from experience. You are probably not the only female that has been subject to his uncomfortable harassments.

Prevent it from happening to another victim who may not have the diplomacy, quick wits, and courage to escape from a terrible situation! I bet there's a hotel or gym camera that captured the guy on film. Or maybe he frequents the hotel enough that there are other complaints of him on file and one more does not hurt if future charges are ever pressed.

Even though it is not your duty to make this world a safer place, just imagine if the next victim were a dear family member or friend.

Anonymous said...

This wouldn't have happened if he were Asian, cuz then you never would have spoke to him in the first place. lol.

Anonymous said...

*looks at comment above
LOL, is this true?

Quite scary exercising in the gym this late at night.

Anonymous said...

Gotta say, you'd easily flouted an obvious safety rule:

Unfamiliar place + Past midnight + All alone --> Compromised safety.

No matter where you are & however careful you may be, bad things can happen. Thats reality. The best one can do is to minimize the likelihood of such things from happening.

Anonymous said...

Sorry this happened. This guy deserved to be reported for being an a-hole if nothing else.

I generally disagree with the comments that say you shouldn't be in a hotel gym after midnight. It's not like you are strolling down the streets of Baghdad at midnight, and hotels are supposed to have cameras and security all over the place. It annoys me that people think this is somehow your fault - this is what happens when we live in a country motivated by fear instead of empowerment. If I were you I'd consider carrying a can of mace and being prepared to give an attacker a nice honest dose of it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9/23/2007 10:35 PM,

If, on you way, you saw a bunch of thugs hanging about down the street, would you walk straight up to them asking for trouble or would try walking down an alternate lane (if you could) to avoid trouble?

Its not about living in fear but about making smart choices.rsgcrapl

Anonymous said...

Actually, I grew up in a pretty rough neighborhood. With normal gang type thugs, your best bet to avoid trouble is often to cross to the side of the street where the guys are hanging and assertively acknowledge their presence. Slinking to the other side of the street is a great way to get followed and mugged. It also helps that I'm a big dude.

Niniane said...

Thanks to all the people who expressed concern. It really warmed my heart. :)

To answer some of the questions:

- It is a true story, not a writing exercise.

- I did not have my phone with me. I travel light when going to the gym. :)

- One point raised by Anonymous @ 10:35pm is that the gym at a reasonable hotel should be much safer than a thug-filled street. Thus, one might not be as cautious. Indeed, I started out the gym experience with far less caution than had I been walking down a thug-lined street.

- I would totally have talked to the guy if he were Asian. !!

ArC said...

- I did not have my phone with me. I travel light when going to the gym. :)

See, if you had an iPhone, it coulda been your mp3 player at the gym and you'd have had a (camera)phone on you at the time. And they're light and thin, too!

nisa said...

Hope you're okay.

Things like that can even happen with people you actually know. So I guess a lady should have the wits to keep herself safe The buddy system. The open, lights, many people etc.

Anyhow, God Wills - the best I love seeking refuge in God Almighty. & meet guys who are totally nice! I hear girls going - that guy this, that guy that - I don't know why even the bad guy the girls speak of is completely nice to me. It's totally God's Mercy.

Anyway... Should I say this? Honesty week for you. For me it's Ramadhan - I can't hurt feelings, this month I can't blame Satan. So I hope it's not hurtful, sorry if it is. Being Asian myself, I sometimes have this uneasy feeling when asian girls have an image of.. a kinda of... how do I say this nicely. Frankly, I don't appreciate being thought as naive, selfless, man pleasing, easy to play with lady. The types who pleases guys in clubs - asian ladies have that kind of association it... >:(

Perhaps we're softer, more petite & the cute mousey thing - we're basically non intimidating even if we hold a punch. So I don't like such be thought of easy prey. God Knows Best, amen.

nisa said...

try googling "asian girl"

Rob said...

Invest in some Mace.

Anonymous said...

Glad you are okay. Next time, report the incident with the front desk clerk and get an escort back to your room. Please!

Anonymous said...

IMHO, the only type of individual who would head up to the thugs would be one who's got nothing to lose &/or s/he has all the time in the world to deal with them.

Another interesting question would be, had Niniane been chased down by multiple individuals, who she (or anyone else for that matter) be able to mace out all of them simultaneously?

Anonymous said...

If I see thugs on the street, I will cross the street and I will not speak to them or acknowledge their existance. Whoever said you should march through them must be a male. When you are a woman, acknowledging the existance of a thug basically says to the thug "Please have sex with me." And justifies rape in his eyes. NEVER EVER EVER acknowledge the existance of someone who harasses you on the street.

Anonymous said...

I figured I should drop you a line and let you know how entertaining and refreshing I find your blog. You're honest, and a person full of life... something we need a whole lot more of in this world. Keep it up!

"LoB"

Anonymous said...

I posted this to digg. I hope you dont't mind.

KE Liew said...

Mistake.

You should have gotten his name card, and lead him to...well, hell. ;)

Dan said...

that is fucking classic!!! :) that dude has a defect. someone forgot to run the garbage collection on him. heard about the secret project. congrats sounds fun.

Anonymous said...

Although not going straight to your hotel room was pretty smart, I wouldn't call it honest...

Cheating Heart said...

Come on man.. Take off the ring... Guys like you give married cheating guys everywhere a bad reputation

Drama Queen said...

It's not like Niniane was staying in a $20 per night flea bag hotel...

She is rich after all...

I am sure that where she stayed was safe and secure...

I googled and saw absolutely no crimes of violence perpertrated against anyone at any Ritz Carlton.

Anonymous said...

Kind of late, but to the person who said "only guys" walk through the thugs, it's not true.

Granted, I'm a rather tall woman, but in areas where there are groups of thuggish looking guys I've found it better to curtly acknowledge them (if they say something). It's kind of like a dog smelling fear. If you act like you're not scared they're less likely to see you as a target.

If they hit on you and try to keep talking, make up a boyfriend and say "he wouldn't appreciate me talking to other guys." Has always worked like a charm for me. They stop talking to you, they don't feel blown off, you don't seem like you're afraid.

Anonymous said...

Admit it, you "love him long time".