This is why I prefer the window seat. (I do mention race here because I feel it’s important.)
The ride on the 38B (no. 2717) towards Ballston this evening (after 6) was the worst experience of my life. The window seats ran out so I grabbed a seat in the back aisle. I was tired, nodding in and out of sleep while the bus slowly lurched across the Key Bridge. I wasn’t feeling well and just wanted to get to the store, buy what I needed and go home.
At Rosslyn, this black guy boards the bus and he’s all, “How’s everyone doin‘ this evening?” but of course with me, he says, “Smile! Things aren’t that bad. Things will be brighter if you smile.” Whatever somnolent state I was in disappeared when I heard those words. I was pissed beyond hell.
“Don’t tell me to smile,” I said. “What I do with my facial expression is my business. Worry about your own facial expression.” The white guy and girl sitting across from me look at me and smile nervously.
At the same stop, another black guy who’s heavyset and a white woman board. They seem to know the smile guy.
“I’m happy with my facial expression,” the guy says. “Good for you!” I snap back sarcastically.
This guy then calls me names and directs his attention to the white guy and girl sitting across from me.
“How are you doing this evening?” he asks the girl. The girl, in the most smug, sanctimonious way looks at me, bats her eyes, then responds to the guy, “Why, I’m doing fine, thank you!” I’ve never felt so patronized in my life.
“See, that’s the answer I wanted,” the guy said. “You’ve got wingnuts like her [he points at me] acting all crazy.”
Great, I felt as if they were painting me as the crazy, argumentative black chick, justifying this guy’s warped views on black women, while this girl on the bus fits the stereotype of the polite beyond words white girl who’s docile and wouldn’t hurt a fly. I’m not like those uncouth black women, her demeanor read to me. This whole exchange sickened me. And after reading Sister Toldja’s blog today about black men acting like black women are obligated to walk around and smile for them (http://thebeautifulstruggler.com/2011/01/too-hot-to-handle-too-cold-to-smile.html), having this mess happen to me today added to my frustration.
Tired of being insulted by this weirdo, I got up and moved to a seat near a middle-aged black woman. She was very kind towards me and unlike the girl and the guy near my former seat, didn’t belittle my experience.
“Times like this you’ve gotta put on your iPod and ignore these bums!” she said.
“I hear that,” I said. Meanwhile, this buffoon wasn’t letting up.
“She moving because she’s scared of black people,” he said. Of course, the white guy and girl who I was sitting across from before I moved smile at this assumption. I’m afraid of black people?! So am I afraid of my own reflection? Damn.
It wasn’t over. Crazy smile guy goes on and on about how he’s minding his own business, and how I ruined his day.
“You were minding your own business?!” I replied. “I WAS MINDING MY BUSINESS! You didn’t have to say shit to me! I’m sick of sorry-ass negroes sitting at the back of the bus bothering people like me! I did not ask for you to say shit to me!” It got quiet for a moment there.
Then from the heavyset black guy who boarded comes out a “N***a, shut the fuck up!” He was talking to the crazy smile guy. “You always do this…gonna get us kicked off the bus. Shut da fuck up!”
Now one would think these clowns arguing with each other would make me happy, but it didn’t. It was embarrassing. I wanted to crawl somewhere and hide. I wanted an escape from the noise and chaos. “Oh, god,” I said, putting my head in my hands and moaning.
“They’ll be off soon…real soon,” the woman next to me said. I thank her for trying to calm me down.
The smug girl got off a few stops after the incident started, but the condescension of her behavior still lingers. I can’t get over that.
The crazy guy and his friends seemed to divert their attention off me and to each other about other things, but all they did was argue and curse at each other the whole time.
“Gettin‘ on my nerves,” the woman next to me said. “They need to stop.” It was so bad that people at the front of the bus were turning around to see what was happening. I wonder why the driver didn’t tell them to knock it off or get off the bus.
The heavy guy and his lady friend got off at Courthouse, but not without one last “Shut the fuck up!” from him and some comment about “I ain’t riding the bus all the way to Ballston for some Harris Titter [sic]…n***a please.”
I got off at the stop near Whole Foods a few stops down, thanking the woman I sat next to and wishing her a good night. I thank her for not putting me in the “crazy” box because some demented nut thought it was my obligation to smile for him.
The incident worked my nerves. I get to Whole Foods and had forgotten why I was there because I was so frustrated and tired (physically, mentally). And when I remembered, I was just so out of it and felt like I was in everyone’s way. I kept my head down. I wanted to do what I needed to do and get out.
While at the checkout line, I saw a stand of different pocket Buddhas at the counter. I’m not Buddhist, but I do like carrying lucky charms. I saw a Buddha for protection, and added that to my purchases. I know I’ll need it for protection from being harassed, and protection from losing my sanity from being constantly harassed.
I wish I’d gotten that window seat. I could’ve looked out the window, got lost in space, and potentially not have gotten harassed by this cretin. I just want to be left alone.
– Tired of Being Harassed
Location: 38B Bus on the way to Ballston, Virginia