Friday, July 6, 2012

I'm an Educated Woman... And You're a Pig

Here's a true tale of Los Angeles in 2012. This just happened.

Let me state a couple of things which I believe to be true, which may or may not actually be true.

First, probably because we have a celebrity culture here and/or so many who are actors/creative types, there is an unspoken bubble around everyone as they travel through Los Angeles. If you happen to be walking, people will always give you enough distance as if that bubble were actually there. Personal space is regarded highly. As in, you don't, under any circumstances, invade it.

Now, if you happen to be riding a bus in Los Angeles (or a subway), this rule is compromised a bit. Often buses and trains get crowded, and one has to make do. But even in these extreme circumstances, one tries, as best as one can, to maintain personal space. That bubble around each person just gets a little bit smaller.

This even goes to the extremes on buses and trains where (unlike Chicago or Paris or Toronto or other cities in which I've ridden trains/subways) people don't have issues with the close quarters. It's expected. In Los Angeles, if you TOUCH someone, it better be as minimal as possible, because under any other circumstances, this is a HUGE affront.

Second, and maybe this is just a pet peeve of mine, but it's considered common courtesy (and yes, even on city buses and trains one exhibits common courtesy) that if the bus or train is full, or even crowded (and by crowded I mean that every seat is taken, or nearly so), one has the decency, if one has a bag or a backpack or a shopping bag or whatever on the seat next to them, to put it on their lap. In fact, one considers the crowdedness of buses and trains before one contemplates getting on board with 85 bags. You have this many bags, take a damn cab. (But that's my issue.)

So those are my prejudices going into this true story.

Man gets on said crowded bus. He is (and while many in Los Angeles are extremely judgmental of people's physiques, I am not of this ilk), but he is, safe estimate, 400 lbs. He has trouble making it through the aisles. He is wheezing and has shortness of breath so much that I worry he's going to pass out as he ambles back to the back of the bus, looking for a seat.

There are none. He ambles back toward the front, still wheezing. I honestly, at this point, really do believe the poor man needs to sit down. Or go back out and get some air, or something.

As he gets to the front of the bus, he spies a woman who has her bag on the seat next to her. (As I mentioned, this is one of my button-pushers, and I would've gotten mad too. In fact, if all seats were taken, I, too, would have insisted that I sit in the empty seat next to her. Although I would've done it the LA way, by simply standing and looking at her, plaintively, until she moves her bag of her own volition.)

Mind you, there was a three-seat thingie next to this woman, of which TWO seats were available, in which this man could've sat. He did not. He chose to sit next to the woman.

I missed the beginning part of this, but he was talking to her, basicallly telling her to move her bag. She did not. She said something about him taking up two seats, and motioned to the open two seats next to them.

This caused the man to PICK UP HER OPEN PURSE and THROW IT in her lap. And sit down next to her, making rude comments about whether or not he was actually touching her. Now, I wasn't sitting right next to them, so I couldn't see, but it's completely impossible for me to imagine this behemoth of a man sitting next to ANYONE and not touching them. He easily would take up two seats comfortably. In one, half his body takes up the seat. So, I had a problem imagining that he wasn't touching her, after already having violated her with her purse (which caused half the bus to gasp). (People on LA buses, by and large don't even notice what's going on around them. At this whole incident, they gasped.)

Not surprisingly, this woman wanted no part of this nasty man next to her, and she did what I would've done, got up and moved. The man continues to verbally harangue her.

She finally counters with, "You look like a pig." (The bus laughed, cause actually, he kinda did.)

And he counters with, "Sure, I could call you the 'N' word, and I'd be the one in trouble."

She says, "I'm not a 'N,' I'm not white or black. I'm brown. And I'm educated. You're the one that's acting like a 'N.' " (The bus also laughed at that, cause that was kinda true, too.)

I got off at the next stop, so I don't know how this whole incident finished, but it just started me thinking.

Why are we all so self-involved that we have to confront each other with such hostility? Why do we assume that everyone is out to get us, or hassle us, or be a jerk to us?

Why can we all not just get along?


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