Commuter Adventures: A Close Call

Shattered ©FrogDiva Photography

There are days that I wish never would have happened, but as an old friend used to say, even the worst days can be chalked up to experience. Yesterday was definitely one of those days, so horrible that it will be ingrained in my memory forever.

It all began with my morning commute to work on the bus. I knew it was not going to be the usual quiet and pleasant bus ride the moment an entire kindergarten class got on, all the children excited to spend the day at the zoo. The already harassed teachers were on the lookout for any stray children oblivious to instructions and impervious to the fact that the bus is not a playground, as the case tends to be during such outings. I turned my face toward the window and ignored the motley crew for as long as I could, thankful for my audible book.

Two stops later, a tall man got on the bus, shouted at the top of his voice that it was a spot check for tickets. Everyone pulled out their tickets, only to find out that he was joking, and then sat down in the empty seat next to me. He quickly surveyed the children and broke out in song, again at the top of his voice, trying to be as amusing as possible. It didn´t take long for him to identify the teachers, ask them questions about the children, which thankfully the teachers did not answer directly. The man then diverted his attention to the children in the row directly in front of us, and stuck up a conversation with them by way of clowning around. Two minutes later he lay his head on my shoulder pretending to cuddle up to me, and touching my arm. I turned in utter horror and fury at him, told him emphatically to stop it, which he did.

The clowning around continued with the children and again he touched my arm and shoulder, at which point I raised my voice already and was ready to punch him in the face. The only thing that held me back was the fact that I was surrounded by all the children and could not gauge what this man would to do them if I lost control. So I decided to do the next best thing and get off at the next stop. I stood up made my intentions known to the obnoxious creature next to me. He stood up as but still fooled around and blocked my path to the door on purpose, including the stop button. At this point I was beginning to panic because the door had closed again and the bus was about to drive off. There was no way I would make it to the next stop without having a meltdown, and I could feel the tears swelling up. Luckily this crazed human was twisted enough to shout loud enough to the bus driver to stop that there was one more person who wanted to get off. The driver heard it and let me off.

My head and heart were pounding so hard and I was shaking from head to toe when I stepped onto the pavement. So I walked a while, thankful for the bitter cold that morning, continued two bus stops down the route and waited for two buses to pass before I got on again.

I have been victimised before by stupid racist remarks, sometimes even lewd, by drunks or idiots who did not know better. These were easy to ignore, much as they stung and offended, but this was the first time I was touched inappropriately by a complete stranger, my personal space invaded in such a manner, and it scared the hell out of me. I felt helpless and violated, completely ripped out of my comfort zone.

Later that evening, on my to therapy, I prayed for a peaceful bus ride and no lunatics. What did I end up with? An older woman in the line who cursed all foreigners angrily, and then stepped back and rammed into me with her backpack. Things some in threes… and on the sidewalk on the way to the clinic, a huge man the size of a bear bumped into me and knocked me forward.

Sleep eluded me and this morning, after discovering under the shower that the heating and hot water were out of order in the entire building, I was terrified to take the bus to work. So I opted instead for the subway, in spite of the fact that it has an interrupted route. A longer walk was better than a bus ride.

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