Another false start on the finding-mindfulness-on-the-morning-commute front today, when a Daily Mirror-reading (says it all?) suited businessman took umbrage at my claiming a vacant seat he’d deemed to be his and spat the word “Bitch” in my face to vocalise his distaste.
Fortunately my recent mindfulness teachings have, if nothing else, shown me the correct way to respond to such an insult is not to retaliate by shouting “Wanker!” in his face to see how he likes it (as my old self would have found it hard not to do), but rather to take the higher ground, smile serenely and turn away – which, as it turns out, serves to infuriates such people even more.
Now I’m not sexist, but the fact I was not only a woman but a rather unwell one at that (my horrible cough being testament to this fact) would, in most people’s books, be enough to qualify my right to the seat – and that’s without taking into account the fact I was standing right next to the seat in question whereas he was standing beside it. In the world of tube train etiquette surely no one would dispute it was I, therefore, who held the commuter right of way?
Then we have the insult itself. That this man (at least 15 years my senior, I would guess, but nonetheless perfectly able to stand for the duration of his journey) allowed himself to be so riled by a 31 year old plague victim having the audacity to sit in a vacant seat right in front of her is ludicrous enough – but to call me a bitch for doing so? Dog analogies aside (I doubt he’d see the irony of dogs never requiring seats on the tube-if only I’d thought to ask him at the time), the word bitch implies – to my mind at least – some degree of malice. How he could have perceived me as malicious for being equally as keen to sit down on my journey to work as him I simply cannot fathom.
But enough about this sad little man and his misplaced anger – he’s had more airtime than he deserves already. Let him walk around in a rage against the world, because in the end the only person he’s hurting is himself.