The circle of life on the bus

So I was waiting for the 51A bus in the rain in the dark with some other folks and was super happy when the bus pulled up and it was near empty and the driver let down the ramp without any weirdness or fuss. There was another guy in the front of the bus sitting on the other side. The bus driver got out some big old straps. I thanked her and said I would rather not, and didn’t need them. She said she would have to call her supervisor because it was policy that she had to restrain my wheelchair, or I would have to get off the bus. She was nice about it and I just kind of nodded like, OK…. and said I had been riding buses in wheelchairs for many years and go ahead and call.

The guy across started yelling at me during this exchange, from almost the first moment, that I was a bitch, an asshole, a cocksucker, a goddamned bitch and he hopes I die young.

At that point I stared back at him and said it was too late for that since I’m already 50. (OK, well, 49 and a half.) The driver told him to shut up a few times and told him he should not call me out of my name. By that time we had driven off because her supervisor told her to tell me that, should I be injured because of not being restrained on the bus, they could not assume any liability. Thanks. OK. I agree! We drove down Broadway towards downtown.

Then the guy said someone should kill me. Staring right into my eyes he said “I’ll kill you myself you bitch!” Driver finally told him to shut up or she would make him get off but that just made him madder. At some point he started just mouthing or whispering his threats while flipping me off.

I felt very glad I was not strapped to the bus while I was a couple of feet away from this horrible man.

Was I married? He bet I was not. I’m too nasty! Too much of a bitch! He’s been married 4 times! He was in Vietnam! Also, he’ll kill me! I need to die! BITCH!!! You’re a BITCH!

It was amazing how much venom he got into the word “Bitch”!!!!

Let’s take a moment to quote the beautiful words of the immortal JOREEN,

Bitches must form together in a movement to deal with their problems in a political manner. They must organize for their own liberation as all women must organize for theirs. We must be strong, we must be militant, we must be dangerous. We must realize that Bitch is Beautiful and that we have nothing to lose. Nothing whatsoever.

Thank you Joreen!!! You give me strength!

At one point I said, You know what, we all have the right to ride this public bus, me, everyone, and you too even though you’re a sad and crazy old guy yelling at me, you get to ride the bus. That’s it. I was shaking with rage and fear but that’s what I said!

So that went on for a little while and I mostly didn’t say anything more, and I kept my camera on and pointed at him in case things heated up and my other hand on my folded up cane that I was half sitting on, which is quite sharp on the folded ends, carbon fiber edges, and which honestly I was ready to drive into a motherfucker’s throat if he came at me, and then he got off the bus while humbly thanking the bus driver and apologizing to her and everyone else on the bus FOR WHAT A BITCH I WAS SORRY TO EVERYONE EXCEPT HER THAT BITCH and now he was gonna go to Grocery Outlet. Bitch.

Wild!

Then, like, all the women on the bus came up to me and patted me and were sweet and concerned to check in that I was ok and say they were so sorry I had to go through that. And stuff. They were very nice but I was so mad I found it hard to talk any more. I actually thought then, Oh, they were more scared than I was. Until he got off. Huh.

My BART ride and extra bus ride home were peaceful. I then twittered cathartically about my experience all the way home, at some point realizing I should put on headphones and listen to the loudest possible riot grrrl and punk music. Thank you 7 Year Bitch, L7, Tribe 8, Crashprez, The Soviettes, MDC, Black Flag, and J Church. Very healing to the soul.

So, I am still super mad, and I so wished I could yell at that guy (more than the little bit of pissy backtalk that slipped out from me in the moment ) And also I had the thought that actually he did cross a line legally and it was all recorded on the bus camera which is easily obtainable through FOIA request. Like, he did threaten me and stuff but… Actually I just wanted to go home and recognized that my truly obscene amounts of privilege did not need to be whipped out just here. I disagreed with how the bus driver handled it but also figured that she probably saw this guy every day and she had a notion of whether he was really going to be violent or not. And I still had a part of me that didn’t want to agitate to kick an old guy out in the drizzling rain any more than I didn’t want to get off the bus myself and wait another 25 minutes for the next one. Anyway so I did not escalate and didn’t ask the bus driver to kick him off. She really was super calm and chill about the whole thing and I admire de-escalating in general. But, she could have – should have maybe – protected me a little more, I think. I’m going to be thinking about how I could have tried to set a boundary myself with the guy that I would have felt better with than what I went with which was “me shutting up while he yelled insults at me”.

I’m not so fragile! I’m mnot going to like, be fucked up that some asshole yelled at me! Assholes have been yelling at me on buses since I was 10 years old! They called me a faggot and a bitch and spit in my face and I cherish the memory of some guy who told me on Facebook 35 years later that he cherishes the memory of tiny 11 year old me double flipping off everyone on the bus clutching my bookbag to my chest and screaming shrilly, “FUCK YOUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!” I cherish my fierceness! I am a little badass inside! I don’t like being yelled at! It freaks me the fuck out! I would never tolerate it in my everyday life, not for a moment from anyone at all! Obviously, I’m fucking bothered or I wouldn’t be writing this hours later. But you know what….. WHATEVER. You know what is the best fierceness – it is maintaining your vulnerability. I don’t have to not be bothered, it is right to be upset, inside, it lets me defend my vulnerable self, which I assert to the world.

Anyway, I got off the bus pretty near my house and went across the street to see if this guy who lives on the corner was there because, he got all his stuff stolen again, and I got him some warm things but the shoes the VA gave him were two sizes too small, he took them because, half way on they kept his feet warmer and drier. He has a wheelchair but cannot push himself in it very well as his hands are also messed up but he gets along pretty ok. Whatever I asked him his shoe size the other day and realized it is the same size as my brother in law, and i was at him and my sister’s house all today, so I had these shoes to give him. He was happy about the shoes but he was also drinking and a bit messed up. I realized suddenly that between the bus stop and his niche on the corner I had seen a blanket and some bags and a backpack. Bob do you have your backpack. Was that your backpack over there on the other block? Oh no does it have an american flag on it? I went to see. Yes…. so… I brought him all his stuff. I think it just fell off the back of his chair as he was going along and he was too messed up to notice. No one had even gone through it. He kissed my hand drunkenly and invited me to sit with him. I went home but felt like so much more human because I took all the meanness and transmuted it into kindness and being decent to other people which is literally JUST WHAT HAS TO BE DONE. What is to be done? Do the work in front of you and be decent about it people. Like I said on the twitters Kindness is punk as fuck, and this bitch will bring you a boot party where it’s a present of boots that fit your feet and keep them warm and dry. Motherfucker, you will take these social services and this transformative justice and this example of nontoxic masculinity, OR ELSE. P.S. Fuck you, asshole!

How weird is it that I went from hating on one old guy to helping out another one. It is really true, that helping someone out is something to be grateful for, because they trusted you enough to let you do it.

I’d like to thank this cat, this nice loud riot grrrl music, this feminist manifesto from the year I was born, this soothing mint tea, and this excellent marijuana for the massive improvement of my evening.

Also my nice spouse who spent all weekend and all day since 5am trying to like save Europe from Article 13 and Article 11 and thus save the entire fucking Internet. And then who brought me the soothing mint tea.

The rest of the day was super nice, I spent it working while my sister worked on her stuff, and we showed each other physical therapy exercises and had tacos. When I stopped working I got to show my nephew how to write a little Inform7 and then I left him playing Zork.

Good night all.

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