A little story
Once, on a subway train, I was standing with my headphones on, ignoring the world. It was a well-filled car though not crowded. On one of the benches near me, a woman was sitting. She was by no means dirty or unkempt, but she had the look of a homeless person—several layers of worn clothing, old shoes, and a garbage bag of belongings tucked beneath the seat. She wasn’t doing anything but dozing, nothing of hers invading anyone else’s space.
In Oakland, two women got on, I’d estimate about late fifties early sixties. Both wore tennis outfits, with pastels and whites and the sweaters knitted at their necks. They gave me a brief glance because I was wearing black cargo shorts, a green tank top, green and black striped knee socks, combat boots, had weird hair and enough jewelry to choke a cow, but I’m used to that. They walked away from me and sat down in the bench that runs perpendicular to the one the homeless woman was sitting on.
They were chatting and I heard little of it. The homeless woman napped. I listened to music. All of a sudden I can hear one of the woman’s voices.
“Can you please move?”
No one responded because they thought she was talking to her friend. So she repeats herself louder. The homeless woman wakes up and frowns.
“Are you talking to me?”
“Yes! Can you please move or get off this train? It’s not a hotel.”
I went into instant rage mode. Like who the fuck are these bitches? This woman paid the same fare as them and people doze on the train all the fucking time. I thought omfg here we go, but no.
The homeless woman just took a deep breath. “It must be nice to have a bed and a home.”
“If you want one then go get one.”
She just smiled. The other woman got angrier.
“Can you get your garbage off this train? It stinks!”
“This isn’t trash. It’s my belongings. This is how I have to carry them.”
“Well they stink!”
Omg omg omg. I moved along the car until I was standing right in front of them, holding onto one of those hand ropes. And I just stared at her. And she looked like she was gonna keep at it. So I said, “who got on this train first? If you don’t like the stink of the world then why don’t you shove your designer perfume up your fucking nose before you slum it with the peons of public transit.”
Her mouth dropped. “Well, I’m not surprised you kids these days are so disrespectful.”
“How old are you granny, and why did a kid have to tell you to treat a homeless person with respect? Who the fuck are you? Why don’t you get off this train since you obviously don’t belong here?”
And she was like………..
And then they got off.
And I turned to the lady and was like two seconds from crying. And you know what she said?
“Don’t be upset, dear. People like that are more miserable than I could ever be. Thank you.”
And I sat with her, chatting until I had to go, and she was a wonderful person, like I knew she would be, just from how she handled herself.
As good as you have it, don’t ever let that make your forget how bad it was or how bad it is for others. That is what keeps you grounded. And also…just because you think someone is “worse off” than you, doesn’t mean they are. So evaluate yourself without that bias.
Or some punk kid is gonna punch you on a train.