One of the scarier things that’s happened to me:
It was November 2009. I had just moved to Glasgow in September, and me and two friends from school had gone to the King’s Theatre to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
SIDENOTE: One of the best theatre productions I have ever, ever seen. I went again the following year. Also, my life does not revolve around Rocky Horror, I swear. I’m actually kind of weirded out by how many times it’s already come up, like maybe I need to assess the situation…
After the show, we were forming our “how do we get home?” plan. We didn’t want to pay for a taxi, and we still hadn’t learned to navigate the buses too well, so we decided on the subway.
If you’ve never been to Glasgow, you just need to see a photo of the subway map to understand how easy it is to navigate:
Missed your stop? No problem! Just get comfortable for 20-30 minutes and you’ll be there again!
So all we had to decide was which stop was closest. We were just down the street from Cowcaddens, so I suggested that, but my two friends were adamant that we were much closer to St. Georges Cross. I didn’t want to argue, even though I knew we were closer to Cowcaddens, so I just followed them; I had never even been to the St. Georges stop.
As soon as we started walking down Great Western Road, though, I questioned my decision to just follow along (see: it was late and sketchy as fuck.) Remember when I said Glasgow can be dodgy? Hopefully you’ve now realized you’re reading one of the many stories that proves it.
It was very dark along the street until we started to near what seemed to be a parking garage, where flourescent lights were shining on dirty concrete. I noticed some people, but tried not to make eye contact. The closer we got, though, the more my heart sank, because I realized that there were people – a group of people – standing at the entrance of the parking garage, and they were, without a doubt, a gang.
There were somewhere between 8 – 12 guys, all between about 17 and 24, all wearing the stereotypical Glaswegian troublemaker outfit: track suits. And as we walked by, they started to spread out, like birds in a migration pattern, until they had surrounded us in a circle. We tried not to stop moving, but it was pretty stunning. How do you react to a situation like that? But we didn’t stop; we slowed. And not for too long, because they started taunting us. They started shouting what sounded like a fucked up nursery rhyme. I wish I could remember the words, because it would have made for a great story, but the only words I really remember hearing are “rape,” and “kill,” and something about the last one standing, and all I could focus on was how the fuck do we get out of this and am I going to die right away?*
You can tell when guys are just fucking around. This one time I was by myself at the cinema and two drunk dudes – also in track suits – sat down next to me and started trying to chat me up, and when they heard that I was Canadian, they turned up the patter so that I could barely understand what they were saying, and they laughed and laughed and drank their booze. I shrugged it off. They were fucking around.
These guys were not fucking around.
So we ran.
I didn’t even know where I was running, but we ran. A couple of them chased us down the street for a bit, but got lazy after about half a block. (So much for the track suits.) Thank god. All I could think was why aren’t there any cars driving down the street to help us? What would I say on the phone to the cops? Is the number for the cops 999 like I think it is? Why are the people we just ran by not looking more concerned? When will I be home?
It was the one and only time I ever caught the subway at St. Georges, and boy, was I glad to see it:
And then I ran the 1.5 blocks from my stop to my flat. I had been living in my neighbourhood for less than two weeks and couldn’t bear the thought of having any interaction with anyone else that night.
I went home and cried.
And I learned to trust my instincts.
P.S. The Cowcaddens subway stop was closer to King’s Theatre BY A LANDSLIDE. Noted.
*When I write this story into a movie one day, I’m going to think up the creepiest rhyme ever.