It was mid-afternoon on a Wednesday and I was walking uptown on Broadway, around 55th Street. I had on a heavy backpack and was carrying a full bag in each hand. I was hurried and preoccupied when a big scruffy guy stepped into my path. I noticed a distant, strange look in his eyes.

I stepped to the right, he stepped to the right. I stepped to the left, he did the same. It was just one of those stupid sidewalk dances, until I stepped again, very clearly, to the right and he followed me again. I had a quick moment of thinking “yuck, this is weird, you don’t want to be here.” And then my Prepare skills took over.

In a loud, clear voice, I told him to stay still and I would go around him. He complied and I walked away. He followed me. I had to stop at a corner for a red light. He came up beside me, very close, and peered at me over my shoulder. “I don’t want any trouble,” I said. “You stay right there. I am going over to the other side of the curb.”

There were people all around us, staring. I’m sure they thought I was over-reacting, but it worked. The guy stayed put and left me alone. Nothing bad happened, nothing at all. And I had a part in that. I think that’s what verbal skills are all about.

Emmy Laybourne, Basics Graduate

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