This morning I got a dose of “assholism” on the bus, on my way to work. After I sat down, I noticed a much older man talking to a woman who was across from him toward the front of the bus. He is White, she is Black. He was saying something along the lines of “I am an [unintelligible] and I’m from America” and the woman responding, in a very, very thick accent said “I am from America too!”
He went on a mini-rant talking about America and “Obama” but I couldn’t make out what he was saying. She was yelling back at him to leave her alone. He then tried to point out that she had dropped something on the floor. I think at that point all she expected was more harassment because her responses were “Stop talking to me. Leave me alone!” but then she realized when he said “Shut the fuck up, god dammit. You dropped your [unintelligible] on the fucking floor!”. She picked up the item and didn’t say anything to him.
He then cocked his head back, eyes widened, and said something along the context of her not appreciating his “kindness”. She responded and said “You are drunk! You are not well!” while she got up to exit the bus. He started slapping himself and said “Hit me again. HIT ME AGAIN!” and then started mumbling to himself.
A moment before this point, I was teetering on my chair about to stand up and tell him to shut up. Initially I thought this guy was harassing her for being Black, but I couldn’t tell exactly what he was saying to say with 100% certainty. But my gut says he was being xenophobic. He was 100% an asshole, for sure. When the next stop came up, she got off the bus. Then he departed a few stops later, but not before rambling to the people around him. He looked like he was searching for some kind of approval, like “You see? These foreigners have no appreciation for people like me! You get me, right?”
No, man. I don’t get you.
After he got off the bus, I let out a big audible sigh and said out loud “Boy, what an asshole!” No one looked up. No one said anything. The passengers were just as still as they were when the man and woman were arguing. I almost wondered why no one closer to the couple said anything. Maybe the same thought that was going through my head was going through theirs: “Don’t escalate the situation. Sure, this guy is being a prick, but what will confronting him solve if he’s drunk or deranged?”
I certainly didn’t want to escalate the situation. When things like this happen I always try to remember an old police story in which the lesson is similar to “the best situations, the ones you can walk away from, are the ones you can deescalate”. I felt like any outside stimulation would agitate this man, and as long as he wasn’t touching anyone or acting threatening, then it wasn’t my place to intervene.
Still though, fuck him for being a prick to that lady.