Monday, May 9

Can We Get a Rant?

Sometimes an event will happen that will cause a break from third-person, and I think this event, which happened on the bus a few days ago, warrants that. If nothing else, it's mildly amusing.

The bus ride to work is about an hour (thanks, L.A. traffic). So, if someone is being annoying, it can be a long ride. And foolishly I decided to sit near this annoying person, which was my first mistake. How was she being annoying? Well, she was loudly yapping away on her phone, which, in fairness, is a common occurrence on the bus. Everyone feels the need to yell whenever they're on their phone in a public place. Why, I'm not sure, even though I'm most likely guilty of it too. Now, before I go on with the story, it's important to note this woman is black. Not because I'm racist, but because of what would transpire...

This woman has been on the phone for about ten minutes and has not said anything that would really be considered deep conversation. I'm listening to headphones, or trying to, but I figure I'll just grit it out. Then, this woman begins banging the seat next to her, which happens to be connected to mine. As anyone with at least a fifth grade education knows, if someone hits something that is connected to someone else, that second person will feel it. Allow me to diagram the layout of the seating in case there's any confusion:

|x _| |y _ _|

I was sitting where the "x" is, she was sitting where the "y" is. The other seats in this column were empty. But, as mentioned earlier, my seat is connected to the one she is routinely banging. I figured she was just doing this to emphasize her point during a particularly rowdy sentence, but after it continued for about five minutes, I felt compelled to say something. That was mistake #2.

Very politely, I leaned over and asked if she wouldn't mind hitting the seat, since it was causing my seat to shake. She looks blankly at me, and then goes back to her phone call. The first words out of her mouth: "Girl, this guy on the bus just asked me to stop hitting the seat because it's shaking his. I'm not even hitting the seat he's sitting in." I was stunned--I know people are generally assholes, and maybe it was because it was still early in the morning, but I couldn't believe the disrespect happening before my eyes.

"Are you going to stop or are you just going to continue to disrespect me?" I asked. She chose option #2. I explained that because the seats were connected (again, that fifth grade education really came in handy), when she hit the other seat, I still felt the effects. She then repeated that to her friend, who I can only assume took my side. Since she's causing such a commotion doing this, another man from substantially farther away came down and asked if she mind keeping it down, since he could hear her over his headphones. I guess I should have felt better that she was also inconsiderate to him, and similarly just told her friend on the phone what was happening, without caring to be polite.

And this was where her being black came into play.

After insulting Headphones Guy, she says, "People need to realize we're not in Montgomery, Alabama. We're in South Central Los Angeles." Never mind that we were still in Santa Monica (a suburb of L.A., and not as "street" as she would have everyone believe), but this woman was wired so strangely that she wouldn't listen to anyone. She began going on a rant about how she's sitting at the back of the bus because all of us "white folks" were disrespecting her. Keep in mind she chose where to sit.

Again, I should have just sat back and laughed, but I just mumbled out to myself, "Are you really playing the race card right now?" And then she said, "YES I'm playing the race card!" and continued with another eight minutes or so of amusing rhetoric, including bringing up slavery and segregation, neither of which was relevant to anything happening on the bus. Around this time, a pleasant teenager (who, since we're playing the race card, was Asian) sat in between us (bless his soul), and someone else sat on the other side of her, and with less physical freedom, she kept her voice down. But it was certainly an entertaining thirty minutes. In a perfect world I would have just grabbed the phone out of her hand and thrown it out the door the next time the bus stopped, but hey, it's not a perfect world. Nevertheless, the moral of the story is: Don't talk to anyone. Ever. The end.

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