It was standing room only on the E Line RapidRide bus when the man seated next to Sonnet Stockmar started talking to her. "Take your top off," he said in front of the other bus riders.
That's the only time she can remember things going that far. Most of the time she keeps men away by staring ahead and "looking unavailable."
But some guys push back. It happens every few rides or so, she said.
"If a guy is determined to talk to you," Stockmar said. "I was reading a book one day, and this guy sat down next to me and said, 'I know that you’re reading, and I know that you probably don’t want to talk to me, but I just want to tell you you’re the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen.'"
In that case, she told him thanks, but she just wanted to get to work and didn't feel like talking.
For the man who told her to take her top off, she had more direct words. She told him to f— off.
Riders on King County Metro buses have options besides that, because Metro has a sexual harassment policy and a way for victims to lodge complaints confidentially. Drivers and staff are trained to receive complaints, and an ad campaign launched last month to promote the policy.
King County Metro Transit Police: 206-296-3311
A KUOW reader in Vancouver, B.C., said riders there can text transit police, making it more comfortable for women who might not want to call attention to themselves, or who fear escalating the problem if they were overheard lodging a complaint.
Harassment isn’t just limited to buses, of course; recently proposed national legislation was inspired by #MeToo stories on airplanes. It would require a broad swath of transit agencies and companies (airplanes, light rail, ferries and buses) to have policies, training and awareness campaigns much like those pioneered last month by King County Metro transit.
The legislation was sponsored in the transportation committee by Oregon representative Peter DeFazio and co-sponsored by every Democrat on the comittee, but it would need support from Republican leadership to pass.