Yesterday morning on the train a man yelled at me. I’m still trying to figure out why he yelled at me and I’m still trying to figure out what I can do in the future to avoid it. Either way, he yelled at me and it bugged me greatly.
I was getting onto the 4/5/6 at the time. It wasn’t that crowded; yet people don’t ever seem to want to move into the center of the car. While I understand this need for being the first one out once I’m at a stop, moving into the middle of the train is just part of the social contract. You get into the car, and you continue moving into the car so everyone else can move into the car. I can’t tell you how often this simply does not take place. In fact, I would say 90 percent of the time people choose to not do this. Some of them even stand right in front of the doors. Many times there are two people in front of the door giving any loading passengers one body-sized opening to fit through. It’s so frustrating. But it’s part of living in the city. You deal with it. You grunt and you deal with it.
Yesterday, however, a guy just yelled at me. He said, “WELL YOU’RE THE ONE AT MY F*CKING BACK!” Of course I was at his back, I was trying to board the train. I lowered my head and chose to ignore him. (This has happened to me before.) And one might think that I’m used to it. But I’m not. Each time it affects me greatly and I wear it for the rest of the day.
At lunch, I went to the gym. I have been doing that for the past several weeks. I run 3.5 miles and then I head back to work. It’s been fantastic lately as I have had soccer games to watch while I run. I head over there at noon, watch the first half, and then head back to the office. I figure if soccer players can run for 45 minutes straight, I can too. (I’m going to be hard pressed for motivation once the World Cup is over.)
I am usually high when I’m finished running. My heart rate goes from 160+ back down to 70 and when that happens, my head buzzes with pleasure. It’s the best feeling since discovering dark chocolate. I am addicted, quite frankly.
I wore a t-shirt and a pair of brown slacks. My hair was still wet from the shower. I sat down to put on my shoes. I set my bag to my left on the floor. I set my left shoe onto my foot and my right shoe on the bench next to my bottle of FUZE. But I wasn’t entirely aware of all of this when I sat down.
A woman walked over carrying a large backpack. She wore a baby blue skirt suit, super high black heels, and wore her hair high above her head. She has tightly pursed lips. Had we not been in a gym, I’d have guessed she were a career smoker.
“EXUSEMETHANKS!” She spit at me and another woman.
I try so hard to be polite. When I say excuse me, I generally mean it. This woman, however, immediately just expected everyone to part for her. How rude.
I moved my legs so she could get by. She opened a locker and then began to place things on the bench next to me. I had a little more than half of it (maybe). She then went at me again.
“CANIMOVETHIS?THANKS!” She didn’t wait for me to respond. It came out as all one word. She picked up my bottle and moved it close to my legs. I looked down and then back at my feet. I shook my head in amazement; annoyed she was ruining my buzz.
“I DO NOT HAVE ANY ROOM HERE.” She said down to me.
I began to shake my head even more. I looked down the entire time.
From her, this must have come off as an act of passive aggression. It was not. Instead, I really didn’t want to deal with her. I was literally 1 minute from being out the door, out of this woman’s way and life forever. I figured she could wait that minute and I could carry on feeling good.
“YOU KNOW, IT’S REALLY UNECESSARY FOR YOU TO SHAKE YOUR HEAD.”
I looked up at her at this point. My running buzz drained from my head like air from a balloon. Her voice was sharp. It poked a hole in my ego.
Tobyjoe said I should have elbowed her in the head and kicked her in the vagina. My coworkers told me I should have responded with absolute crazy anger, that crazy works with people like that, that I should have treated her like a dog. But I chose to take the highest road I could given my location.
“You know, you should really try being a nice person. That’s all it takes. Just be nice. I’m almost out the door. You can have the entire bench at that time. Just be nice.”
She freaked out. Her voice rose so that everyone around us could hear her.
“I AM A NICE PERSON! I AM A VERY NICE PERSON! I WAS BEING VERY NICE! YOU ARE TAKING UP TOO MUCH ROOM!”
I grabbed my bag and my iPod and began to head out the door. As I was leaving she threw one last sarcastic comment at the back of my head.
“HAVE A NICE DAY!” She yelled.
I went from feeling elated with accomplishment to embarrassed and insulted. Each and every time something like this happens, my body feels enlarged. I feel like a massive human being, a big fat finger, an ugly piece of flesh, something everyone is watching and wants removed, a human wart.
This morning, I was getting on the elevator. I had my headphones on and a guy was trying to use his umbrella to push the “Up” arrow. I pushed it with my finger on the other wall. When the elevator came, he waited outside and put his hand in front of the doors so they wouldn’t close. I got onto the elevator. Before I had the ability to say anything he said, “YOU’RE WELCOME!” My face sunk. I thought I was done with yesterday.
I can’t help but wonder if others experience encounters like this. Do I call it upon myself? Do I give off “bitch vibes”? If I do, I want to put an end to them. I asked my coworkers if this ever happens to them. Both of them are men and said that, no, it doesn’t. They talked about having to carry myself better, and try coming off as someone who is unlikely to take crap from strangers. They said I look like a nice person even if that’s not the case at all. They said men don’t do that with one another because there is always the belief that things can become physical. They said that outside of some nasty looks or eye-roll exchanges, they don’t get much crap from women either.
I feel like this happens to me a lot and I know it could be worse. Some people are stabbed by complete strangers while riding the C Train. I know it gets worse. But, like most people, I’m selfish.
I don’t think I’m particularly cruel to people. Perhaps it’s where I live and how often I am out in public. And if this doesn’t happen to others why does it happen to me? I do hope that I’m not a minority.