Why I Need Tinted Windows | Jourden V. Sander

I need tinted windows so that I can eat in my car when I’m sick of seeing my coworkers. If possible, I park in the first spot of diagonal spaces so that the driver’s seat is next to a wall, where it’s harder for people to see me. But somehow, one of my coworkers will end up walking behind my car, or to the right of it, and my eyes will find theirs’, and they’ll know I’m eating lunch in my car.

*

Sometimes, I’ll be driving and suddenly I’ll feel like I’m being watched, so I’ll glance as subtly to the left as I can, and oh, there’s a man staring at me.

*

Which, whatever, I don’t care if my coworkers know I’m eating lunch alone, but it’s really my business if I eat in my car and I should be able to enjoy my mediocre meal in peace. I should be able to crunch as loud as I want and watch ridiculous YouTube videos and take my shoes off and not worry about my feet smelling.

*

Sometimes the men just stare, other times, they blow kisses at me, make gestures, and yell to my car. Sometimes they get in front of my car and I can see them staring at me through their rear view mirror. Sometimes they hold up traffic because they’re staring at me.

*

Sometimes I eat while I’m driving, and I’m really good at it. McDonald’s is an easy one, but I’ve even mastered the art of Taco Bell. Other times, I’m running late and need to do my makeup in the car. Do I really need some asshole staring at me because I’m putting on eyeliner at a light? At my worst, I’ve read a book while driving (it was really good). But don’t worry — it was mostly read at stoplights.

*

Sometimes, men follow me.

*

My car is dirty. I worry passersby look at me, judge, think, fuck, her car looks like a trashcan. My car does look like a trash can, but who needs to know? My sunglasses and sun visor are my only shield from the cruel world.

*

Once, a man was smiling in my direction, looking away when his light had turned green. I threw my hands up in exasperation, pointing to the green light. He looked forward and shrugged his shoulders, laughing, as if to say, I can’t help it. I understand I’m pretty, but I’m not whoops-I-stopped-traffic-because-I’m-staring pretty. Sometimes they honk at me when I’m staring forward in embarrassment. Sometimes they laugh when I flip them off, as if I’m cute for being mad.

*

When my song comes on the radio, I sing like I’m the next American Idol. I sing like that damn show is still relevant. And I dance like I’m in the club, my head bopping and my hips swaying in my seat. I enjoy driving, especially with good music, so I enjoy singing and dancing. But my shy side would enjoy it more with the privacy of tinted windows.

*

Once, driving home from a closing shift at work, a car full of young, white men who had jeered and yelled at me while stopped at a light, followed behind me. Even at night, my un-tinted windows make me easy to see. They tailgated me, driving fast and then slow, countering my attempts to let them pass. I thought for sure they’d follow me home, but after a while, they turned down a different road.

*

We all know the thing that happens when you arrive early to an event, too early to go inside, so you put it in park and wait. But with my clear-as-day-windows, I’m practically a sitting duck. People walk by and think What a loser. Who is she. Why is she so goddamn early. Has she no life?

*

Another time, I was driving on the highway when I noticed a truck staying in the same speed next to me. I glanced to my side to see a middle aged man smiling and making gestures at me. Disgusted, I looked forward, attempting to ignore him, but he honked lightly and stayed as close to the side of my car as he could. He did this for almost ten minutes until we reached a busier part of the highway and so he got behind me. I watched his truck with anxiety until I exited, and he didn’t.

*

The best part about tinted windows? If I decide I want people to see my dancing, all I have to do is roll them down.

————
Jourden V. Sander is a bookseller and writer in Austin, TX. She writes just about anything from flash to poetry, short stories to creative nonfiction, and attempted novels to experimental prose. She’s been published a few places including Five2One, Aviary Review, Maudlin House, the Austin International Poetry Festival 2015 anthology Di-Vêrsé-City, and others. She isn’t tired of the zombie trend yet and loves playing video games. She’s a shameless anime lover. She has a corgi named Kairi. She says hello! Follow her on twitter @jourdensander.

 

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