Who among us is perfect? What about omniscient? I don’t imagine there are many nods right now, but somehow I missed the notice informing me that I am. Being unaware of this, I clearly violated that honor this morning. For that I am so very, very ashamed.
I’ve mentioned before that I ride the Metro rather than drive to work. I did the same today, which led me to believe that this would be any other day. I should’ve known when I walked onto the platform that this day would be bad.
When I arrived at the station, the platform was more crowded than normal, even though I’d arrived at my usual time. The weather was fine, with no rain to slow the system down. But there they stood, more people than the average day. I assumed some sort of train delay. That’s a safe assumption because Metro suffers delays almost as often as the sun rises. I hate Metro.
A few minutes after I arrived, the train pulled into the station. The train inched forward after stopping because it’s easier for the train operator than knowing when to stop the first time. The doors opened and the herd charged for the seats. No one wants to stand because there can be delays or the train operator can be incompetent with the brakes. So many debacles can occur, so a seat is priceless. Like every other morning, I got a seat. I’m not so lazy that I won’t stand up, but I like to read in the morning. It’s almost impossible to turn pages when standing up; holding on to something, anything, is a requirement.
At the second stop, another herd piled on, filling every available space with bodies. I had a little girl stepping on my toes. Granted, I think she was doing this for entertainment, but still. She was stepping on my toes. And tapping my legs with her hands. Repeatedly. Should I have gotten up at this point? Possibly. In my defense, trading spots with anyone else on the train would’ve required a gymnastic move with a minimum degree of difficulty of 8.4. Getting up was an option, but it wasn’t realistic.
The journey continued with a packed car. I suppose some passengers disembarked, but if they did, they only relinquished their empty spots to someone else. Did I mention that the train was full?
A couple stops before Metro Center, which is where a majority of passengers transfer to another train, the doors opened and a few passengers filed out of the station. Unable to see the station markers through the windows, I looked up to see which station we were at. As I did a woman gave me a dirty look and directed a comment at me. Unbeknownst to me, although, remember, I’ve been given skills of omniscience, so I’m a bastard, there was an elderly woman standing close by me to whom I had, with obvious malice, refused to offer my seat. Being the good samaritan that she was, the woman exiting the train made sure that I knew how much better she was than me.
I have a problem with this woman’s attitude. I truly didn’t know that there was an elderly woman next to me. I mentioned that I was reading, but I was also listening to my mp3 player. I was in my own little world specifically to avoid people like that woman. For some reason, they like to chat about their leg tumors and whatever else unpleasant is going on in their lives. They, for some reason, think I care. So they talk to me. I don’t want to talk to them, so I avoid the situation. That doesn’t mean I ignore prodding, just that I’m not really aware of my surroundings. If she wanted the seat, she could’ve asked, or someone else who was feeling indignant could’ve tapped me and politely asked me to offer the woman my seat. Just because I didn’t offer my seat didn’t mean it wasn’t available. (Why I’m the only one who should be expected to give up my seat is for another discussion.)
I’ve had disabled people ask for my seat, which I’ve happily offered. I’ve had disabled people stare at me and tell me to move. I didn’t enjoy their social skills, but I still moved. I’m not immune to social graces, but I don’t make it my responsibility to plan for everyone else’s contingencies. It’s possible to have a rational conversation with me. I can be polite. I have had enough of being judged, though; I despise it with every part of my being. Judging obscures thinking. Life is easier when viewed through a pre-defined lens, but it is not better. The woman this morning had so much courage that she waited until she was leaving the train to say something. If she’d taken one moment to assess our situation, she would’ve seen that she couldn’t ask me to move earlier because she was nowhere near me, with no way to approach me through all of the people.
When I noticed the elderly woman, I got up and offered my seat. Through the remaining stations before Metro Center, my seat remained empty. The elderly woman didn’t want it.
But I was the rude one this morning.