This morning I get on the train at the same spot I usually do.
I know this is the spot right in front of the trash can where the doors pull right up.
And I step on first. And if there’s a seat, I get it. I need it, because my legs hurt, and it feels good to sit, and when you hurt and things feel good, well that seems like a pretty good option to me.
This morning things didn’t go as planned. This might be a long, ranty post – but after all, I’m a long, ranty guy.
I grab my seat. Unhappily nestled between two broad shouldered manspreaders. The term is accurate, because these men were spreading all over the place. You couldn’t close them to save your life.
I squeeze in like the weird Tetris piece and make it two stops before, shortly after the car has started moving, and elderly woman walks up.
Now, I’ve seen the type before. Old. And a woman. But, I guess I meant to say I’ve seen her other type before. Her eyes dart around expectantly, but it’s on my lower two-thirds that her eyes land. I can hear her thoughts:
This long, ranty man in his $1150 Armani suit and matching frog-skin fedora has had a good life – and much more to come. How young is he, 19? 20? And so successful. And so handsome, my oh my, what a handsome young man. Things have gone so well for this man, perhaps he’ll let me eat the scraps from his table.
But by table, I knew she meant “seat.” I guess at some point, you forget the difference.
“Would you like a seat?”
“Oh, yes. It’s a particularly unstable train today.” This doesn’t make sense, as trains run on tracks and those tend to stay pretty still. I get up and am moving my bags, but she’s wasted no time slipping in past me, like an identical weird Tetris piece would do. “Please, don’t move your bags. I’ll watch them.” I snatch them up anyway and avoid her eyes. The bag rests at my feet as I loom over her in silence and in headphones, though I don’t listen to anything.
I don’t like that this bothers me. I try not to let it, and I tell myself I’m the sane man standing next to me, who I’m sure would happily give up his seat to anyone who asked him. Every fiber of my being is telling me what I’ve done is right, and a seat is not the end of the world, and why is it important to have a seat for about thirty minutes?
Every other fiber of my being was saying, “Hey, she beat you. She won.”
This is the curse of man. The feeling of constant injustice brought on by a cruel universe. Every moment has the potential to make a man feel that he has been wronged, mistreated, that even though the logic in his manly brain knows that an elderly woman needs a seat, the man cannot stop feeling as though the woman in the seat doesn’t know that sometimes I’d like a seat, and maybe it would benefit her to stand and deal with the unstable train. It bothers me she expectantly sought out the kindness of strangers instead of waiting around for a kind stranger to approach her as they presumably would. I look around at all the kind strangers with their faces down in their phones.
I turn on my music.