Yesterday, I got on a bus and at the next stop, a woman barreled towards where me and my dog were sitting, and screamed, “Ahhhh move I’m getting off!” There was no where for us to move to, we were scrunched as far as possible into a seat; Kiva was well under it at my feet.
Before I could even react, she yelled, “Good thing you’re blind, bitch!” and hightailed it off the bus.
I was left perplexed and pissed, my body instinctively full of adrenaline. The other passengers, in their typical Seattle way, looked everywhere but at me. Their silence held all the desperation of trying to pretend they hadn’t had to witness the last 30 seconds.
Only the bus driver said to me as I was leaving several stops later, “That woman’s been off her rocker for years.”
I nodded in acknowledgement and thanked him for the ride. It took me hours to shake the experience.
I keep wondering what has gone on in her life to make her react that way to me, or to anyone. This incident is similar to others I’ve experienced on transit or walking down the street. I’m always left shaken and wondering why.
I imagine the majority of these incidents are way more about the other person, and about society, than they are about me. This doesn’t hold much comfort in the moment, but it is likely true.
I want some action step, some way to make the life of this woman better. I don’t know how to do that.
This is the thing I tell myself all the time: if I am fortunate enough, some day in my life, to no longer be poor, to not be lonely, to have the community and family I so want to build, to not pay for groceries with EBT, to have health insurance, to not have to compromise for love, to have easy days, I must remember what it was like. I must not be complicit in forgetting, no matter how seductive the thought of forgetting is.
I must remember her, because we are not that different. I must remember, no matter what happens, how struggle feels.
I must never forget compassion.