This was my initial reaction to what I saw in the subway on my way to class today.
When my friend sent me this illustration in the morning, I wouldn’t expect that I would be expressing this amount of disapproval towards another human being.
I was standing on my usual corner in the subway car, when I see two older women (late 60s, I’d say) join the marvelous party that is the MBTA’s Green Line. The train conductor doesn’t wait for newcomers to take a seat, so off we go, while both ladies find their balance by holding onto each other’s bags and search for seats together. Voilá! And there are none, but there are plenty of vacant places to sit. Some folks, however, occupy two seats: one for their bums, the other for their Jansports, Oakley backpacks, or designer handbags. Then there are three seats, two are vacant, and the one in the middle is occupied. Most likely, people would not sit next to you because you are in the awkward middle seat. Now, if you sat on either end, at least there would be that (un)comfortable vacant spot between you and the stranger. Sounds familiar?
These two women locate two spots where they could potentially sit, but there is a young woman, and I repeat, young woman, occupying the awkward middle seat. One of them gently asked: “May we have these seats so that we may sit together?” The young woman neither blinked nor raised her chin from her screen. She didn’t even have earphones on. All she had to do was move one seat over, but she chose not to. The women did not make much of it, as they continued searching for places to sit. As they walked past me, I expected that they would be discussing the incident and how rude the young woman was. Instead, they were more concerned about finding seats together. Before she rose to get off the train, I caught her glancing and shaking her head towards the direction where the older women went.
I came home and discussed the incident with my sister. We tried to find ways to see this incident in a positive way, but it was hard. It was almost as if we were trying to justify her actions. Perhaps she was having a bad day or maybe she has always been giving in to others, but today she chose to do whatever she wanted. But our problems are not other people’s problems and definitely her problems were not the older women’s problems either.
I barely started my blog and this post is not about kindness, love, or friendship. I knew it would be a challenge for me, but this is why I chose to do it. It actually serves as a concrete example of what we need most.
P.S. – The illustration above is not my own. Please visit http://www.julianoyi.com for more amazing art by this extremely talented friend of mine 😀 !