Had a strange experience yesterday; still don't fully understand it.
Was walking downtown, waiting to cross north at the SE corner of Howard & Third, near the Chevy's. I was standing at the rightmost side of the pedway on the curb, cane in my left hand in "carrying position", grasped at the neck, to expand my personal space a foot around my exposed left side.
A guy came east across Third, late in the light cycle. I kept him in peripheral vision because he was moving across the crosswalk's width, and it was ambiguous whether he would be turning left to cross north like me, or whether he'd continue east behind me. He was underdressed for the weather and looked a little rough.
He didn't take the three unoccupied lanes of crosswalk to my left, but instead walked behind me, as if continuing along Howard. By this time the light had changed and I stepped off. Then from the corner of my eye I saw that he doubled around behind me, and was trying to pass on my right, where there was no space.
I was off-balance, but did not want to step in front of traffic with a strange unpredictable walker six inches behind my back. I stopped, pulled the cane out of his way so he wouldn't walk into it, and waited until he got ahead of me in the crosswalk before proceeding.
Very strange -- a double-back, an unsafe invasion of personal space, behind me, and entering traffic. I took no chances, but made no verbal comment, made no direct eye contact, just let him get ahead and regained my feeling of personal safety.
In the crosswalk he turned around twice, weaving across the lanes, seeming to try to provoke a confrontation. He kept north once we were back on the sidewalk, so I turned east, along the north side of Howard. Easiest way to avoid any problem.
Halfway down the block I noticed he had doubled back again, following me, talking on his mobile "and then he swung his cane like a tennis racket, he's wearing a ballcap." I was on the right of the sidewalk, streetside, and he was center-walking, gaining. I used the mirror on my sunglasses to monitor him and gauge pace, without the confrontation of a headturn.
I timed things so I could cross back southward at the light on Hawthorne, in front of the Gold Club, and he never got closer than three feet. Fortunately, he kept going down Howard, turning north again at New Montgomery. I continued on the south side of Howard, finally crossing back to Market at Second, scanning for him all the while.
I did the right stuff -- set up the intersection so others had easy choices, stopped when I noticed an unsafe situation, did not return a confrontational interaction, made no verbal comment or direct eye contact, and then chose a path that would take me off the same street as the weird guy. Once I noticed he was following me I stayed cool, planned things so I could turn while his momentum took him past, and ignored the verbal comments made on the phone about me.
But I still can't guess what the guy's trip was. It's a full moon, and he seemed to be looking for a fight. I successfully avoided it, and kept things cool, but it was still uncomfortable. The only thing I think of that I could have improved was to have made damn sure he kept on his initial path and didn't double back to pop six inches behind me. But that preventative measure would not have been sustainable in normal traffic.
Best guess is he was someone already experienced in the legal system, amped and looking for a score (he was underdressed for the weather), with a partner on the stroll on his mobile. I'm still wondering how I could have handled it better, and not have been taken by surprise by the initial double-back and near-collision.
I hope he doesn't take out someone less observant and with fewer de-escalation skills than me.