Seen on my neighborhood Facebook page:
"Heads up, especially to young women, I was walking home (from Chicago ave to Erie ave) a few weeks ago late at night and a man followed me home and masturbated at the bottom of my stairs as I was letting myself in. When I started yelling he ran away. This guy was around 35, white, slightly overweight. Just be extra careful walking home!"
As the shrinks say, let's unpack that paragraph.
First off: Heads-up, indeed.
Second: Chicago Avenue and Erie run parallel. So saying you were walking home from one to the other doesn't begin to tell us where you actually were.
Third: You're only reporting now on an alleged threat from "a few weeks ago." You should work for Homeland Security.
Next, you ask us to believe that a fat man trailing you at some distance was nimble enough to reach the bottom of your stairs, get his pants down and begin masturbating. And he apparently did this, expecting perfect silence from the object of his lust. When you shattered that stillness, he just-as-nimbly hiked his pants up and sprinted off. All before you could get the key in the lock. I'm not saying this is impossible. I am saying that it's hard to imagine.
Finally, your much-belated advice to us is: "Just be extra careful walking home!"
Many of us—and especially the habitual writers among us—believe that everything that happens to us is somehow relevant to everyone else and ought to be shared from behind a wagging finger of warning. We should try to differentiate between experiences that lead to universal truth, and random misbehavior, the sharing of which only serves to make people more nervous, pointlessly.
And somewhere, an overweight 35-year-old white guy fights the urge to warn his friends about hollering women: "Just be careful following women home!"