I’ve told you before that every now and again, I go on a little power trip when I get off the bus and squeeze through the crowds in a particular way that will ensure a rude person is blocked from getting my seat and a nice person has a clear path to it. I’ve also told you before that I really love seeing rude people get their comeuppance. Last night on the bus, I passive-aggressively combined the two and came out looking like a real hero when I was of course actually being a real jerk. No one has to know but us.
See, a bus hadn’t come in a while, so when one finally did pull up, my bus stop compatriots and I completely filled the seats. At the next stop, the waiting passengers comfortably filled all of the standing room. But it was sardine-can-type chaos at every stop after that. No one could get past anyone to leave the bus, and the people near the doors didn’t want to step out for fear they wouldn’t make it back in. The bus driver was calling over the loudspeaker for people to clear the doors, but those still stranded on the sidewalks held them open in the hope that people would be crushed and space would free up as the bodies were carried off. Everyone scrunched together to give the doors room to close and then filled in the void, causing the “please stand clear of the doors” announcement to go off continuously from one stop to the next. And there I was in my seat, casually reading and not caring.
A girl standing in front of me accidentally slapped my magazine and apologized. A boy scooting past me accidentally hit my knee and apologized. The woman next to me jabbed me with her elbow and apologized. Everyone was trying to maintain civility in the face of potential meltdown. Except for the person who had the most to apologize for, of course. She had a suitcase with her, which is annoying on the slowest of transportation days and outright repugnant on the busiest. So she was lurching that thing around at every stop as people asked her to move through clenched teeth. She stepped on my toes. She smacked me in the face with her Longchamp knockoff bag. She fell into my lap. She didn’t apologize. And I’m completely understanding of the fact that a crowded bus sometimes force you to touch people in ways you’d really prefer not to, but even when it’s not your fault, you have to apologize. It’s the only thing that separates us from the animals, other than our desire for designer knockoff bags.
I could tell the woman was really gaming for a seat, and I really didn’t want her to get mine in a couple of stops, so when a young mother with two tiny towheaded boys boarded the bus, I stopped her and asked in my very sweetest and not-vindictive voice, “Would you like to sit here?” She was overly thankful as she allowed the boys to squish together into the one seat, and we smiled at each other genuinely, and I’m sure everyone around us was looking at me like, “Now there’s a real American hero.”
– Katie Ett, unapologeticallymundane.com