As a transit reader, I sit as far in the back as possible, where it’s possible to wedge into a side seat, face forward, and slouch properly into my book right under the brightest lights, right in a corner where no one can bump me. She, as a maybe slightly crazy person, got on a couple of stops after I did, and proceeded to begin a monologue of utter, utter bile. A narrative thread thick with fucking pigs, wops the fucking lot of them or spics fucking spics and if he hadn’t fucking said those fucking lies, shit, it serves them right, fucking niggers, fuckers, mother fucking shits.. It’s not like it was even directed outward, her obvious hatred at the entire planet and every multi-celled organism on it, no. Oh no. She stood there, leaning brutishly over her over stuffed back-pack like it was a rebellious child she wanted to smack, talking only to herself. Hissing, whispering, barely above a disturbing murmur.
I tried to tune her out, and mostly succeeded, though there were a few moments when her volume reached out and clobbered my reading, usually with derogatory terms I had to search my memory for. (Like, okay, when she uses the word chink, she is obviously not referring to a plaster crack in a wall, but what the heck is a chug? Answer: I have no idea.) Every time the bus paused at a stop, my spirits lifted with a wild hope that when the doors opened, she would leave, and I would never see her again. More the fool me. Oh hope. Oh fallacy. Instead, she grew more violent with herself, more spirited. As my stop approached, I decided that I would brush past her as quickly as possible because I knew, I just knew that if she said anything even remotely hateful to my face, I’d slug her. It’s not that I’m violent, but more that I wouldn’t be able to help myself. I’m Canadian. I don’t even like to witness littering.
The time came. I pulled the cord, the bell rang, the bus slowed. I stood, collecting myself as compactly as possible, and slid past her, touching her as little as possible. Unfortunately, given her disposition, she’d been crowding into my corner more and more, and by the time I got up, when I say I slid past her, it’s more I squished past her, trying to get by. She turned, “Hey!” and I braced myself, telling myself to be nice, to leave my pointy things in my pocket, to not bunch my fist full of keys. “Ma’am,” she said, (ma’am? really?), “I would appreciate if you would say excuse me in the future, as pushing past people is rude.” Stunned, I replied, “Er, sorry, I didn’t want to disturb you. Sorry.” and exited with as much confused dignity as I could.
“Way to make a stand.” I thought at the corner, watching the bus drive by, “Next time I should set myself on fire.”