On Sunday you got to glimpse my well trod shoe collection. When I need to get from Point A to Point B, I walk and use mass transit…
Mass transit had a lull the past few years, but as vaccinations go up and restrictions go down, more people are using it again. Alas, we also have a situation here where mass transit has it’s share of criminals, homeless, drug addicts, and those who appear to be mentally unstable. This makes it quite the mix of people travelling on the daily.
So one day I was on the subway. There was a guy…let’s just say that while I did not do an evaluation, I would say the guy had some issues.
So the guy is standing in the middle of the somewhat crowded train, and he’s screaming that we are all sinners and we need to repent, except he’s saying it slightly nastier, with a threatening tone.
As someone who has spent her adult life riding mass transit, I know enough to keep my head down, read my book, and not even look in the vague direction of this guy. If you avoid eye contact, you can usually avoid direct confrontation.
Today was my day to me the recipient of direct confrontation. After he got in the face of someone three feet away, he chose to stand right in front of me and scream at me.
I know the guy is definitely off…and probably high as well…and using a threatening tone.
I am avoiding looking at him, because I don’t know what that will unleash…but I catch the eye of a guy to my left, holding the pole. He’s about six feet tall, solidly built, probably in his 30’s. He nods at me: he sees what’s happening and he’s got my back. He positions himself so that he can help if necessary. I always try to see if I have an ally, or if I can help someone…it’s sort of my unwritten rule of the subway- don’t leave a person behind, even if you don’t know them.
The guy finishes his tirade at me…and though it probably lasted less than a minute, it was still terrifying…and his next target is my ally…
I watch the situation, and want to show my support and I have this guy’s back, and all I can think is that this fit young guy must be thrilled to have the short old woman with the ereader ready to back him up…
Luckily the train pulled into the station and the guy got out and everyone left in the car let out a sigh of relief and we all looked at one another and the thought was clearly that we survived that one unscathed…and this was a story to tell about life in the big city…Remember- this whole incident took place in less than four minutes. Four minutes feels like such a short amount of time, but it feels never ending when you are scared.
This incident, and others like it, leave their mark. I’d seen many of these confrontations on the subway in the last 40 years, but this was the first time the person stood in front of me and shouted at me…It’s haunting. This hasn’t stopped me from riding the bus or the subway, but it does make me more alert…reminds me to be aware of my surroundings… I also need to realize my limitations. I am older, I don’t run as fast, nor am I as agile as I once was. I like to think that age doesn’t matter, but alas in situations like this I am not as able to defend myself as I once was. And to be clear, sometimes you can’t defend yourself no matter what, no matter what age or size or whatever.
This was just another day in the life. These are the moments that shape us.