Note to our beloved Mods: I’m not sure precisely where this belongs, so please, please move it if I’ve missed
I take a train every day into the city to work. I actually quite enjoy my daily commute. I even look forward to it. I realize this makes me a mutant by modern standards, but I find that the hour I spend on the train every day gives me time to sit down with a decent book, listen to my MP3 player, have a moment of quiet contemplation. The seats are comfortable, you get an interesting view, and you have more leg room than on your average airplane. All in all, it’s generally quite enjoyable.
Then there was yesterday.
There was a mechanical issue with a train, which caused a certain amount of scheduling chaos. Wreaked havoc with the timetable. Not a big deal, but it did mean that my customary train got diverted so I was obliged to take a different train (one that doesn’t usually stop at my station) which had been diverted to take the load my customary train generally does. So the train was particularly crowded. Usually there are enough seats to go around (if not many spares), but yesterday people were standing in the aisles. Mostly folks were taking it cheerfully enough - it was annoying, but nobody’s fault really. Also, it doesn’t happen often. In fact, today was the first day since I’ve started taking the train that I had to stand up.
The only person not really taking the standing-room-only atmosphere well was the lady standing directly in front of me. She had a fabulous reason for not appreciating it, though. She was two weeks past her due date and not happy about it. Swollen ankles, back pain, the whole late-pregnancy gamut. Having to stand made her sulky - understandably so. She glared around at the well-dressed under-50 men sitting in their seats and reading their papers or working on laptops and PDAs and made a fairly audible and quite snarky comment to the effect that any man with any pretense of consideration or common courtesy would give her his seat. I can’t blame her. The lady’s had a hard year. She takes my train quite often so I sort of know her - we chat on occasion while waiting for the train. Her husband was killed in Iraq four hours after she called him to tell him she was pregnant - the timing indicates she managed to get pregnant within a week of their wedding. Which took place all of two weeks before he got shipped out. Married, pregnant and widowed in less than three months. And it’s twins. And her family lives far enough away that they can’t be with her all the time. And his family has somehow decided that his death is all her fault. (Don’t ask me - I have no idea where that came from.) Anyway, she has a certain amount of justification for being snarky with the health-club fit “gentlemen” who failed to stand up and give her a seat when she waddled onto the train this morning.
So she makes her really quite snarky (and damn funny, too I might add) comment, and one of these late-20’s - early 30’s, health club fit and tanned, expensive suit wearing, perfectly coiffed and pressed and groomed “gentlemen” who is sitting slightly to our left and behind gives me a truly nasty look and tells me “Look lady, you’re not pregnant, you’re just fat. The standing will be good exercise for you.”
I go “…”
I am rarely at a loss for words, but really. How unspeakably rude.
I stare at him for a few moments and then turn to one side so he can see the now-completely-ballistically-irate pregnant girl behind me. She (who is a good soul) launches into a spirited dissection of his character and probable geneaology (with creative, albeit anatomically impossible, anecdotal suggestions) in a mix of English and Italian. I was quite impressed. She didn’t even use any language I’d be embarassed to use to my mother (as far as I know - some of the Italian was quite colloquial). The “gentleman” had started to flush an unattractive brick red at the first glimpse of the pregnant girl and spent her entire diatribe sputtering and attempting rather ineffectually to give up his seat. She wasn’t having it. I think she was rather enjoying the venting process of yelling at some asshole who richly deserved it. She’s had a lot of stress lately.
Behind his seat there stood two small, elderly Greek ladies. Complete with headscarf, dressed in black, weilding enormous patent leather purses. They might have stood 5 feet tall. In shoes. They politely waited for the irate pregnant girl to finish her exhaustive description of this individual’s character and probable ancestry. When she was winding down, they sort of poked their way past a couple people until they were firmly in his line of sight. They then picked up where the irate pregnant lady left off. They were laying on the guilt as only elderly ladies can (in both English and Greek). Finally, caught up in their dressing down of this jackass, one of them thwapped him upside the head with her large patent leather purse. Just as a conductor made his way through the crowd taking tickets. He puts a stop to the systematic dismantling of Mr. Corporate Man in an attempt to find out what’s going on. Several bystanders fill him in on the finer details. He listens attentively to the stories (including the one from Mr. Corporate Man who maintained that he was innocent of all charges and it was a misunderstanding). At which point he steps back and politely asks the other elderly lady if she’d like to smack Mr. Corporate as well. She declined, although she did add a few more choice comments about his upbringing and general disposition.
The conductor spoke breifly with the pregnant lady and the elderly ladies and myself, and then, as the train were pulling into Jamaica station, evicted Mr. Corporate Man from the train. With an admonition to be less of a jackass in the future. All the remaining passengers applauded. Several of the other reasonbaly young, quite fit gentlemen stood up and provided the elderly ladies with places to sit. The pregnant lady got Mr. Corporate Man’s seat.
And so justice was served.