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Inflammatory Moments

Inflammatory moments: I actually have very few, and they last less than 30 seconds when I do have them unless someone purposefully pisses me off (usually reserved to person to whom I am married, poor guy, and then I hold the grudge for 30 years).

But I do commute, so let the stage be set.

I am listening to my (old-fashioned, MP3 unaware person I am) CD player and attempting to be a distracted but conscientious subway rider when an older woman with a cane tries to board my train this afternoon at Rosslyn (a hectic, pushy, busy stop) and it is an already packed train. The reserved seats for older and disabled patrons are, of course, filled with fat-ass lazy people, but I get ahead of myself.

I am standing in front of the reserved seats, and the woman with a cane (we are not allowed to say handicapped, disabled or even mobility challenged anymore) asks generally, "May I have a seat?"

Commuting by train is tumultuous for anyone. But she needs a seat, she deserves a seat, and by right she is allowed a seat.

Everyone acts like they don't hear her, until a meek little woman behind me finally stands up. But that means three other "able-bodied with nothing lacking other than manners" males who were closer did not even look up from what they were reading. They did not even have headphones.

I try to move out of the way so the woman with a cane can take the emptied seat, but the train is packed and the seat-seeker cannot navigate around me.

At which point I bark at the imbecile in front of me who should have had the decency to stand up in the first place, "Slide your butt over so this woman can sit down!"

And I repeat it until his glazed eyes raise from his reading material and he sees her cane, and he mutters, "No one said anything."

To which I respond, "She asked for a seat."

And he slides over and whimpers, "I didn't hear anything."

What I didn't say was "This isn't about listening; this is about basic human awareness that there are other people around you."

Somehow, I knew the lecture would be lost on him.

The woman with a cane said, "Thank you." She sat down, and I exited at the next stop.

Manners just should not be something we have to consider to do. Reflexes make for the best gauge of a person's knowledge of the right way to act. Yes, there are other people in the universe, and they matter just as much as we do.
- Mary O. Fumento, 2007

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