I earlier reported on that other site I'm in charge of, Walnut Creek Patch, that an Oakland parolee was arrested Sunday afternoon on suspicion of exposing himself to a woman in the stairwell leading out of the Barnes and Noble Booksellers underground garage.
I know that underground garage. It's narrow, confined, smells of gas fumes, and feels dark, even though it's fairly well lit. It's two floors deep. I can't imagine how unsettling it would be to have someone confront you in that garage, as Walnut Creek police say this man did to a woman. He followed her into the stairwell and exposed himself.
The man, Muhammad Akmed Magbool, was on parole for robbery and had a "significant criminal history." He led police on a bit of a pursuit through downtown, from the book store to the top floor of a parking garage three blocks away.
My experience wasn't as scary as this woman's was. She must have felt trapped in that garage.
It happened back when we were living in San Francisco. I would get up early before work and walk a few blocks to a gym to work out. That morning, the sky was a light purple, with the sun coming up, but the streets were still fairly empty of cars or other people out walking. Even usually busy Geary Street was pretty quiet.
I was walking along Geary Street, when this car pulled up alongside me. I could see it out of the corner of my eye--it was maybe a 1980s red American-model sedan. I heard a voice call out to me, a man's voice, maybe asking for something. Directions?
I didn't slow my pace but I glanced over in the man's direction. He was sitting behind the wheel of his car with his penis out, stroking it. The look on his face was imploring, as in, please look at me, look at it. Please pay attention.
I wasn't scared. I was on a public street, a major San Francisco thoroughfare, and I could run right back home to safety.
I also wasn't that grossed out. I just shook my head and muttered "pathetic" and kept walking, at a slightly quicker pace. I remember thinking, I don't want to give him the satisfaction of thinking he'd upset me.
The car drove off, and I didn't even get a good description of the car, and I didn't catch the license plate. I thought, I could report it. I should have, I guess. But I also thought, this is San Francisco. The cops in this town might have better things to do than to go after someone like him.