Always Call for an Escort!

Filed under: — Kate @ 2:24 pm EST

Last night I was walking home from work when, about a block from my building, I became aware that there was someone behind me–you sort of develop a sixth sense like that when you live in the city long enough. So I glanced back and saw that it was a guy from the local community’s bike patrol.

I’ve never been completely clear on exactly who these people are. They aren’t rent-a-cops (we have them, too), but I don’t think they are Philly PD either. I do know that they are officially sanctioned by the universities and neighborhoods.

Well, anyway, he rode past me on his bike and asked, “Are you okay, ma’am?”

I thought that was a little strange, but figured maybe he just thought I looked distressed. After all, this was the same day that I started off by taking a nosedive in the middle of the street. And I had walked about 50 blocks since then.

So I said, “I’m fine, thank you,” and kept walking.

Oh, but he wasn’t done. “You should never walk alone, you know. Always call for an escort.” (One service provided by this group is a walking escort.)

That seemed crazy to me, so I asked “Well what time is it?!”

“Doesn’t matter what time it is,” he replied. “It’s dark.”

Keep in mind, this was 8:30 PM, on one of the busiest streets in Philadelphia, adjacent to a college campus.

“Always call for an escort,” he kept lecturing. “That’s why they pay us.”

“Okay, I’ll keep that in mind.”

“I know you’re probably already home…”


“…but you should never walk alone.”

“Okay thanks.”

“You too, young lady!” he called out to another girl who happened to be walking by.

“Oh… it just short distance,” she said in broken English.

“It doesn’t matter how close! ALWAYS CALL FOR AN ESCORT!”

I just said “Thanks” again, and pulled her inside.

He would have followed her home if she hadn’t lived right there in my building.

Now it’s nice to know he cares about the community, but seriously what the hell? It was 8:30 PM. And I had walked from one busy street (where I work), through a college campus, to another busy street (where I live).

One of the major reasons I like living at my current address is that it’s on a well lit, high traffic street. Even at 3:00 in the morning, there are cars zooming by.

And if everyone walking alone after sundown in my neighborhood called for an escort, it would be ridiculous. 1:30 AM? Okay, maybe. But I’d just wait until 2:00 when the bars let out and people are everywhere. 8:30 PM? Forget it. If I ever feel uneasy about walking home for some reason? I’ll call a cab.

When I first started living in Philadelphia, I was terrified by everything. I was afraid of the subway, scared to ride the bus, and very nervous around the bums, or really any time someone on the street approached me.

Edo used to scold me all the time, telling me to stop being so scared, that things are either going to happen or they’re not, and to quit worrying so much.

Eventually, I toughened up, and I’m happy to report that I’m no longer afraid to venture solo out into the world.

There have definitely been some times when I’ve made stupid decisions. Like that time I decided to go by myself to a concert in Camden via public transportation… (Yes, the same Camden that was just ranked the most dangerous US city for the second year in a row.)

But I’ve become pretty savvy, and I don’t need some bike patrol dude questioning me for walking alone when prime time TV is still on. If he had his way, we’d all be living in constant fear.

And let me tell you, that’s no way to live.

2 Responses to “Always Call for an Escort!”

  1. Manchild Says:

    Well, it might seem a bit weird for you. But the sort of people who volunteer or take work doing something like this, are usually people who have some experience with it.

    If, for example, my sister had been attacked, and I decided to get involved in something worthwhile, like that escort service (in the non-smut way) I would be equally over-protective of strangers on the street.

  2. Kate Says:

    I guess I see what you mean, but you have to understand that no one (besides maybe my dad) would have told me I shouldn’t walk by myself last night. At that hour, it was no less safe than it is in daylight. Most people would have viewed me as eccentric if I called for an escort. It was really very bizarre. And to be honest, a little creepy.