Yelling Out The Car Window

Today a young(ish?) male passenger in a car yelled something at me out of the car window. I was walking down the sidewalk at the time.* This isn’t common around here, perhaps because Seattleites are reserved (or unsocial, take your pick) — and/or because it’s the suburbs, so not a huge number of walkers anyway.

I could tell by his tone that he was yelling rather loudly and angrily. But between the speed of the car (30mph zone) and Bono singing from my iPod, I’m afraid I didn’t quite catch the words.** Poor boy, here he got up the gumption to speak out against the fat oppressors*** and I didn’t even hear what he said!


*This sort of street harassment is not uncommon in the fat experience. It’s also interesting that it’s often targeted at fat people who are exercising, to the point that fat people cite fear of social stigma as a reason to NOT exercise.

**Possibly a triumph of tech over hate?

***Yes, sarcasm is strong here. Also a shout-out to Brian’s alternate world theory.

Update: Yelling is not physical violence.  I do not consider yelling to justify physical violence or vandalism.

28 thoughts on “Yelling Out The Car Window

  1. its ok. it happened to me one hot july night a few years ago. i had spent the day at my physically demanding job of course, the one at an auto-body where i have to lift heavy shit and move for 6-8 hours. i came home and rode my bike for 3 or so hours. then i walked to a mall and back with a friend somewhere around an hour both ways. It was as i was coming home from my last trip of the night somewhere around 12:30 after i had escorted my friend home and run to get a few things for my mom at the store. it was dark and i was wearing what i have to to survive in 90 degree heat (a lose pare of Egyptian cotton pants and a plain t-shirt) suddenly a sports car drove by music blaring the window rolled down “HEY FAT BITCH! GET SOME EXERCISE!”
    i went home slowly after that somewhat confused and hurt. Apparently i forgot for a few minuets that i was fat and therefor unworthy to even do my lowly menial labor tasks, That my 195 5’9 body with the unacceptable wide frame was completely disgusting to anyone who has to look at it. That my body that i loved for its durability, dependability, strength, and flexibility was “wrong” and if i had just exercised a little more a random guy i could care less about would have thought i was attractive. A guy mind you who had probably drove around in an air conditioned car all day.
    it wasn’t long after this that i found f.a.
    its ok because i love you, i may never even meet you but i don’t have to, i understand you and share a common bond.

  2. I think some people are just born angry. Everybody is born rude, but a few people stay that way. Your ‘car yeller’ has the sad combination of angry and rude. He’ll probably never change.
    Sorry to hear you got shouted at, but at least you can feel superior.

  3. Ugh, I always hate fools who yell out car windows. Even when I was young, skinny (but thought I was fat) and comparatively cute, I hated assholes hollering the “hey baby” crap. One time some fool whistled at me and it scared the hell out of me. I was so pissed off that when he stopped at the light I went right up to his car window and flipped him off. Probably not the most well thought out move but he was so surprised that he didn’t have time to retaliate before I was across the street.
    The most recent hollering out the window had nothing to do with my build, it was just weird. This guy leaned out his friend’s truck window and hollered at my son and I how much he loved Katy Perry and her “big ole tits.” Gee…that was some enlightenment I really needed–not.
    There are some people who need to put a strip of duck tape over their mouths before they drive!

  4. I know that this kind of vehicular harassment happens to other groups to… go on any horseback riding forum or cycling forum, I doubt you’ll find anyone who doesn’t know someone this has happened to. And as you said, just being fat in public is apparently enough to trigger this kind of harassment. Also being an attractive female.

    Sometimes they don’t just stop at insults — I was seriously injured once when someone beaned me in the head with a thrown beer bottle because, even though I was riding my bike at the time, I needed to get off my fat ass and get some exercise instead of feeding my face and watching the f’ing tv all the time.

    Probably a form of situational courage… bullies are always cowards, but since they’re in a car they know that you won’t be able to defend yourself so they feel safe engaging in whatever inappropriateness they feel like.

    • @Erin – you don’t need to be fat to experience “vehicular harassment” (love that expression!) My hubby and I are both thin, and we frequently get cat-called, flipped the bird etc when we’re out hiking. Once, we even got sprayed with milk from a passing car.

      I always guessed that this happens becuase some idiots can’t stand to see other people (whether fat or thin) doing something they’re too lazy to do.

      • I know — thats why I mentioned horseback and cycling forums. I know they get harassed *all* the freaking time.

        Growing up, I lived on a working horse farm in a pretty rural area, so of course I had my own pony and most of my classmates did as well. I know that several times I had usually teenage boys decide to try to spook my pony by swerving like they were going to hit us, driving past really close (buzzing us essentially), blowing their horns as they passed, or throwing garbage at my pony. This was all intended to spook him, because apparently seeing a terrified animal throw his rider is just HILARIOUS. My particular pony defined the term “bombproof” though so it never worked on us.

        But on my classmates? Definitely… every month we could look forward to at least one person just in my grade coming in on Monday with a broken arm or leg because they got thrown when someone decided to spook their horse that way. And I know a girl in my older sister’s class ended up in a wheelchair for life from a similar incident.

        Then there are bikes… if you look close, you can still see faint scars on my husband from the time as a teen when someone decided to “buzz” him while he was riding along the side of the road and miscalculated, hitting him. Can’t say that was because of gender or weight, knowing what he weighed when I met him at 21 I would be sincerely surprised if he was over 100lbs at 17 (he’s 5’10” and probably had 90% of his height at that age already). And while it wasn’t car related, I had someone decide to see what happened if you hid behind a bush and shoved a fishing pole through the spokes on someone’s front bike tire as they went downhill. Still got scars on my elbow and the top of my shoulder if you know what to look for from that, and that was over 20 years ago now.

        And I remember my father telling us a few times about “damn kids” throwing stuff at him while he was working… and he stood 6’4″ and carried 100lb rolls of telephone cable up telephone poles for a living. So it isn’t even confined to people who are too fat or too thin or whatever.

        Like I said, it’s basically cowardice — they know they can probably outrun anything you could do to retaliate, so they feel safe being their natural douchehound selves.

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  6. Amen. My public harassment has almost always been about my disability, rather than my size, but the two occasions which I can clearly recall in over 40 years of walking (daily & often two or three times daily) the streets of the city where I live as an adult were occasions when I was indeed walking, getting exercise, while the harasser was sitting on his ass in a car riding around. And I have to say that even those two occasions of fat harassment were, compared to what many experience, mild, as most people seem to save their greatest hatred of me for being inconsiderate enough to have problems with balance, coordination, & for walking with an obvious limp, yet, in some cases, still being what they consider sexually desirable despite being a ‘cripple’. One guy said as I walked by (I have always had a large belly for whatever size I am & the way I walk causes my belly to ‘project’ somewhat), “You need to go on a diet” to a woman he had never seen before & has never seen since &, btw, at a time when I weighed more than 50 pounds less than I do now. The second incident was as I was crossing the street, leaving the library to walk the mile or so home, waiting for a car to either pass or shock me by stopping for someone in an actual crosswalk, when some young jerk yelled, “Hey, get out of the way, chubby!”

    Why is it that they so often choose a time when we are obviously moving, getting around under the power of our own bodies, to harass us about being fat & accuse us of being lazy gluttons? The human brain operates (or refuses to operate) in mysterious ways.

  7. I sympathise. It’s happened to me many times, too. It was worst when I used to walk home from work and would inevitably be verbally abused by passersby, or have stuff thrown at me from people in passing cars. Nowadays I get my daily exercise walking my four dogs in the woods, in the park, or on the beach. Strangely enough, no-one has said anything negative to me while I’m accompanied by a pack of enormous dogs with big spiky teeth… Proof, if proof were needed, that these abusers are cowards as well as voluntarily intellectually impaired.

    • Yep, I noticed that too back when I had dogs. Nobody ever harassed me with a big old shepherd/collie mix on the end of the leash. Even though the last one was crippled with arthritis, had inoperable but pain manageable terminal cancer, and her fastest pace was a slow saunter. And yes, thats how I adopted her lol… I just didn’t think it was right that her owners abandoned her as soon as her medical issues became inconvenient, so when I saw her in the shelter I adopted her to give her a couple good years before she shuffled off the mortal coil. I don’t regret it, she deserved something better than she got from those assholes.

  8. I hope you’re as quick with the bird as I am when this happened. Seems that finger has a mind of its own. :)
    I can’t believe I’m telling this story—but a few years ago, after having found Fat Acceptance and starting the process of learning to love and accept myself, I had a run in with a “dude” in a mall parking lot. My daughter and I were trying to find a parking spot so we could see a movie, and I pulled up behind this car that looked as if it was getting ready to pull out of its space. After waiting there a couple of minutes, two guys got out of the car, and when they saw me waiting and then pulling away to search for another spot, one of them yelled “Get out and walk you fat ass!”. Well, I slammed on the brakes, rolled down my window and yelled “F*** you asshole!” and flipped him the bird. The guy just laughed heartily as if I had just told him the funniest joke ever. Well…..this ticked me off even more, so I stopped the car behind his friend’s vehicle (he was the passenger) and found a piece of paper in my car. On that paper, I proceeded to attack his manhood, the size of his penis, his stupidity, his inability to perform sexually, and a whole host of other things I could “assume” about him by just witnessing his behavior and seeing him in person. I left the note on his side of the windshield under the wiper blade, and left the parking lot with a smile on my face. Petty? Probably…but it sure felt good!

  9. Oh those silly people and their silly yellings at silly fats! (sarcasm!)
    I have never felt compelled to yell at anyone out the window of a car…wait no, that’s not true. But I was 18 and we really did wanna see that guy’s nipples!

  10. I’m not advocating the following behavior, but for some odd reason it overpowered the driver behind the wheel of a large vehicle to the point where he sped off, sputtering and speechless. Mind you, I was 15.

    Dude pulls up alongside, starts his yammerin, I reach out without hesitation and use the large brass-plated bed-sheet pin Mama gave me to defend against asshats–I left a big ol’ ugly scratch down the whole length of the passenger door of his shiny ride.

    Yeah, it coulda gone the other way. But it didn’t.

    Still makes me smile.

  11. Like you, I live in the Seattle area, and I agree that cool civility (polite indifference?) to others is really a pervasive part of the local culture. Which is fine with me — I was born and raised here, so I don’t object to feeling “ignored” (the way transplanted midwestern friends might). Also, as I get older, I tend to draw less attention from the kind of adolescents-of-any-age who insult innocent bystanders. Obviously, hurling invectives from car windows is the refuge of cowards who are looking for targets for their free-floating rage, but who are too timid to actually stroll into a bar and look for a fist fight. Another effect of increasing age is not only increasing self-preoccupation, but physical deafness: I just don’t hear as well as I used to, especially in noisy environments. This probably protects me from sotto-voce smart-asses in movie theaters and other public venues…

    • Another fun part of getting older is that if the teenager is on foot or bike I can look them up and down and say, very seriously, “You KNOW I’m old enough to be your mother. What ARE you trying to accomplish here?” Amazing how they seem to not have a reply for that….

  12. I experience vehicular harassment (I love this term!) at least every 2 months. The one that sticks with me the most happened about 6 months ago, though.
    My boyfriend* and I were in our car (he was driving) headed to pick up a new release of a video game. It was after midnight. We pulled up beside an old van with two teenage girls in it at a stop light. I looked at their van and then the girl in the passenger seat and judged her immediately, albeit silently. Then I shook my head and told myself that that was rude and uncalled for and that she was just a nice girl and I had no right to judge her. I smiled at her.
    …Just then she laughed at me, said something to her friend and they rolled down their windows and screamed some fat-hating insults as well as blaring a rap song saying “IT’S GETTING BIGGIE, BIGGIE!”
    It broke my heart and I started to cry. I’m not sure what hurt worse – the random insults and loud music or the fact that she proved my initial judgment of her to be correct.

    *I feel the need to point out that never once has my boyfriend been yelled at in public for his weight or looks. He’s got a small belly on him but the rest of him is “normal” sized according to the mainstream.

  13. I experienced this so often one summer in York that I wrote haiku about it

    Men yelling at me
    Unintelligible things
    From their car windows

    It annoys me that I often come over with carriage wit after such harrassment (the witty comeback that you think of in the car on the way home), but occasionally I do manage something good.

    We were in Scarborough and two random guys came up to my friends and started being obnoxious. One of them said my my bespectacled friend, “Are you going swimming?” “No.” “Well, why are you wearing goggles then?”
    Stupid joke, but I felt so irritated that they were walking smugly away, so I shouted, “You going to a sperm bank? They need a couple of wankers.”

    Best part was, people across the street started laughing.
    There are people still think I’m sweet, shy and retiring. Little do they know…

    With a prompter in every cellar window whispering comebacks, shy people would have the last laugh.

  14. My lack of harassment experiences has gotta be due to a similar reservedness of people in my area (rural New England). I’m a small fat/inbetweenie (30 BMI), but still. Benign neglect is great as far as I’m concerned!

  15. I’ve had this happen to me so many times. You know, my father is very, very large. He gave up exercising, even taking strolls around the neighborhood, even walking across the street without the car, when some teenage boys threw a bunch of food items at him and screamed threats and insults. My mom always thought he gave up too easily, and I swore I’d never “let the bastards get me down” like that, but now I don’t know. I have low energy due to a health condition and being mom of three young kids, and it takes some real doing to get me out for a walk, even though I used to love it. And the biggest obstacle? Knowing that some assholes in a car may shout horrible things at me, scare the bejeezus out of me, or even assault me and throw things at me just because I DARED leave the house at 350+ lbs.

    One time a guy driving like 40 mph narrowly missed MY HEAD with a beer can. A FULL beer can, I realized when it hit the ground. That could have fucking killed me and for WHAT?

  16. One evening my husband and I were out walking, and a convertible with 4 teenage boys cruised by, “You got a fat ass!” one of them yelled.

    “Yeah, but *I’m* getting laid tonight!” I yelled back.

    Shut them right up.

  17. I confronted a minivan full of teenage boys who had the gall to call me a fat bitch while commuting home from work on my bike. They thought I was crazy to confront them inches from their greasy pimpled ugly little rat faces. I had my chain lock in one hand and a Charlie Manson kind of look in my eyes. I said “hey I can lose the weight, but you all with have to consult with plastic surgeons for your fugly faces. So if we are judging by outward appearances, I win today. Fuck off!” and that shut them DOWN. :D Say something to me and see what happens. I may be fat – and I know I am fat but that doesn’t give anyone the right to call me names. Be prepared for my revenge, because it will come and that’s only because it makes me feel better and hey – the went out of their way to insult me. So – game on. Should have kept your fat mouth shut, now shouldn’t we have? LOL!

  18. Pingback: It Came From the Search Terms | Living ~400lbs

  19. I was walking in a grocery store parking lot recently when I guy in a car coming up from behind me blared his horn at me. Twice, just in case I didn’t hear him the first time. It would seem I was not moving fast enough for him and I was preventing him from making a right hand turn as quickly as he would have liked. So I looked at him and waved at his as to say, “what’s your problem?”. So he stops and starts to get out of his car and yelled, “it’s not your fucking world douchebag! Walk faster old man!” I’m laughing as I’m writing this. It was nuts. I’m rarely rendered speechless, but this whacko really was something above and beyond the usual pissed off dude. He had a look on his face like he wanted to run me through with a knife. I flipped him off and continued walking. To wit he yelled, “If you’re looking for trouble pal (I love it when guys say “pal”) you’re gonna get it”. Needless to say, the road warrior didn’t do shit about it. I think he got a better look at me and decided maybe I wasn’t as decrepit as he first surmised. I’m in my early fifties and carrying thirty more than I should, but I’m hardly a cripple. My short point after a rather unimportant rambling story is that usually it’s the loud mouths behind the wheel who turn out to be the biggest nothings. This guy was a loser driving a loser car. And he even had a loser shirt on. I didn’t engage the knucklehead, and I’m glad of it.

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