The Truth about the Train Schism 8/27/00

Dear Mr. Steele:

What are the limits of respect for others? Are my views of personal respect higher or lower than others? Let me set the scene for you.

Please do.

On my way to work this morning on the Middleborrow/Lakeville train to Boston an incident occurred. Generally speaking, each car in the train holds roughly 70 people or so. Some cars are special and hold more. I was in one of these 'Double Deckers' today. In the center of the car on each level are two sets of seats with a table. I was sitting on one side. The other table filled up a couple seconds after I sat down.

Today was an odd day. The train was about 15 minutes late. I guess it had some problems. When it finally arrived, the Porter yells that all 150 of us can only go through the one functioning door. I didn't complain much as the door happened to stop right in front of me and I was one of the first on. (heh heh heh heh.... I knew I'd get a seat today!) When it comes to commuter trains and dinner time at home, there is only one rule: 'you are either fast and ruthless or hungry!'

Sadly, the train did have problems and there wasn't any lighting or air circulators going. Great! It gets hot on those trains! But I was close to a window so I could read. I didn't care... Maybe I should have!

It isn't unusual for people to have to stand during the commute so I didn't take special notice of the lady standing next to the other table talking with her friends. I usually read a book while commuting. I once read this fantastic Vampire book during a commute but that is a different story all together.

Ooo! A shameless plug for my novel! I love it!

As I sat my seat, the person next to me scrunched up against the window because the seats are too small... Or me and the other person are too big.... I began to take notice of the lady standing there. She was talking unusually loud. It was a small annoyance to me. She was busy talking to her friends about her time at the bar while dancing and began demonstrating 'grinding' to her friends. Her friends were sitting in the center of seats and not near her like the older gentleman whose face she was thrusting her pelvis in. That would have offended me and I would have had to tell her to get her *&%#! out of my face. Maybe the old man enjoyed it. Who knows...

A few minutes later I hear the lady raising her voice and starting to swear. It appears that the lady scrunched up next to the window at the other table had kindly asked the young woman if she could talk a little quieter as she was disturbing her. The car became deathly quiet with only the two feuding woman speaking. It felt like a showdown. I could hear the theme song from the western movie 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly."

Cat fight! Who among us hasn't enjoyed the guilty pleasure of witnessing the occasional cat fight?

From this point on I will refer to the standing lady as Miss Attitude and the other lady as Professional Snob. Miss Attitude starting yelling and swearing and asking Professional Snob why she was butting in on her conversation. Professional Snob remarked, "Everyone else in the car is part of the conversation because you are so loud we can all hear you and it is rude. And I wasn't butting in on your conversation, I was asking to you be a little quieter."

Miss Attitude leaned forward over the table in an aggressive manner and stated, "Why are you talking to me? Stay out of my conversation!" At this point, I feel Professional Snob should have realized she was fighting a losing battle and kept quiet. But oh no! Not her! She looked to Miss Attitude and says, "Are you challenging me?"

Meanwhile I'm sitting there thinking Oh my god! The fur is gonna fly! And I'm stuck right in the middle of it!

Miss Attitude continues on with her, "Why are you talking to me.... Blah blah blah blah blah" ... lines. Professional Snob continues on to say, "You're making yourself look stupid!" HEY! I have an idea! Why not add fuel to the already raging fire right? So Miss Attitude starts yelling about how she is always quiet on the train and the one time she talks to her friends someone asks her to not talk so loudly (which for some reason I highly doubt is true)... blah blah blah blah.... woe is me... blah blah blah (dirty word directed at Professional Snob) more dirty words blah blah blah.

Two things to say here. One: It's okay to swear on this page. Really.

And Two: why is there never a subway shooter around when you need one?

The older gentleman is looking frantically about probably praying that a fight doesn't break out and he is struck down by in stray blow. I'm scrambling for the ejector handle to launch me out if the need arises. Miss Attitude is whipping her hand around in the 'talk to the hand cause the head ain't hearin it' gesture. The guy across from me is searching his bag for what I hope is a lightsabre so he can strike down the evil jedi standing in the aisle. The people at the head of the car are looking for the 'bouncer like' Porter to save us all. I hear a rattling sound and hope it isn't the people in the other car disconnecting mine from the rest of the train.

Finally Professional Snob gets the snapshot and shuts her mouth. Miss Attitude then goes on to drive her point home by rambling on how people butt into her conversations rudely all the time and (dirty words directed to the people) how it bothers her. She continues to take pot shots at Professional Snob for 'butting in on her conversation' and calling Professional Snob lots of dirty names. My guess is Miss Attitude is trying to make herself seem the victim of a heinous crime.

So here is the big question... Who is the victim? Is it Miss Attitude? Is it Professional Snob? Is it the older gentleman who might have been tempted to stuff a dollar bill in Miss Attitudes' jeans? Or is it everyone within hearing/visual distance of Miss Attitudes' filthy mouth and actions? What is the limit of acceptable actions on public transportation?

If you hadn't said it, I would have -- and your last answer was correct: the victims were every poor bastard trapped on that subway train with Miss Attitude. This is one of those rare examples of a 'witnessless crime' ... there are no witnesses, only victims. It's a thing of great beauty, actually ... these events are rare indeed.

Now, I don't generally endorse beating women ... or men, for that matter. It's not a practice I can stand behind. However, in very special circumstances, sometimes there's no other alternative. I'm not saying that if I'd been there I would have stood up and starting hitting people -- that'd just be rude. However, there's nothing rude about a warning shot across the bow, so-to-speak.

A few examples of this warning shot come to mind ...

(To the guy next to you) "You know, this sort of thing never happened before Suffrage."

(To Professional Snob) "Why don't you two just sleep together, already?"

(To Miss Attitude) "Do you know what all battered women have in common? They don't know when to shut the fuck up."

(To the guy next to you) "You know, they say it's just a matter of time before we have a woman President. I don't know about you, but I can't fuckin'-wait. I'll bet we're in a war within four days of the Inauguration."

(To the guy next to you) "Just think ... if we'd been born with tits, we might be that stupid."

(To Professional Snob) "Four days from now, I'll bet you two bitches get along just fine."

(To Miss Attitude) "I'll bet you a dollar that if I snapped your neck, I could finish my book in peace and the rest of this subway car would make me a folk hero. What do you say ... wanna bet me?"

Generally speaking, a little public humiliation will put those bitches right in line. And if that doesn't work, punch 'em right in the boobies.

I'm told they hate that.