As the man sitting directly behind me on the bus belched loudly and repeatedly, I found myself wondering how my life had come to this moment.
I frequently bitch about how I loathe the passive aggressive attitude in Seattle, but I contemplated if it had rubbed off on me while I debated what my next action would be with this man. After all, he wasn’t all there, but he had decided to sit behind me and then lean forward creepily and say, “How are you?” at the beginning of the ride.
I might have responded if I hadn’t watched him have a nonsensical conversation with the man in front of me prior to this. I cursed the fact that yet another crazy person was gravitating to me and wondered what that meant about my own sanity.
I was wearing headphones, so I did what any rational person would do and pretended like I didn’t hear a word that came out of his mouth. He seemed to calm down after the initial snub, which he seemed quite perceptive of in his mini rant about rudeness to himself that I was now eavesdropping on.
But as the bus filled up, a woman was taking her sweet time to get her dog on board and ask directions to the nearest grocery store while grilling the driver about its selection of dog food and peanut butter (that was all that she was out shopping for…I know way more about her life that I wanted to in a short span of time). That’s when it started.
Loud, reverberating belches were echoing out of the man sitting directly behind me. In typical Seattle fashion, everyone ignored him, but he was grating on my nerves. I looked for an open seat to switch to, but unless I was going to sit next to someone and give up my empty row, I was out of luck.
I wondered if the passive aggressive attitude I loathed so much had seeped its way into my life. In my defense, I had to consciously make an effort to NOT be yelling at this guy to stop being an asshole. I contemplated it, but looked around at the “help” from strangers that I would be getting on this bus ride and thought I must be the most sane person there, which is saying a lot.
I visualized turning around and asking if he would mind NOT belching directly in my ear, as it was quite distracting, and I had about twenty minutes left to this ride. But realizing that no one was going to help me when I got into an argument with a crazy man was incredibly sobering. I was relying on mob mentality to help me out of this situation if I would snap on him, but I only saw myself getting thrown off of the bus.
As I sealed my fate to sit on my mouth and stew in my rage, I smelled what was clearly the aroma of someone shitting his pants. Everyone looked at the dog at the front of the bus accusingly, as if it had let one rip, but I had my money on the flatulent guy behind me overzealously trying to let a fart slide and failing miserably.
It’s days like this where I decide to go home and not speak to another living human being. I talk to a lot of random people for work, and it is exhausting to be “on” all of the time. So there’s a point where I feel myself shut down and go into recluse mode.
Last weekend that involved me staying in and binge watching the rest of Sons of Anarchy for two days, sporting sweatpants and no makeup. So when I finished the series and finally emerged from my den, I shielded my eyes from the sun, loathing the fact that I’d have to interact with another person in the near future.
I was crossing the street when a man rolled down his window and yelled, “Helloooooo beautiful!” I ignored him, but laughed to myself as he clearly didn’t realize that this was the first time I had put on my face and real pants in days. The joke was on him.
I eased myself into society again. I went to my local Starbucks to write and get some coffee. I met up with some friends at a pub nearby later in the week. Maybe I was in a place where I was ready to interact with other people again. I’d had my social hiatus, and now I was back in the game.
As I walked back to my apartment, a man tried to jaywalk and passed in front of a car who had the right of way. The driver laid on his horn for an uncomfortably long time, which is unheard of in Seattle. I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve even heard someone use a horn out here. And this pedestrian right of way thing tends to get out of hand because people seem to think they can throw themselves in front of cars and expect them to stop.
The jaywalker backed up and tried to flip off the driver, like maybe he had done something wrong. I say he tried to flip him off, because the claw of a hand that came up was barely passable as giving someone the finger. His middle finger wasn’t even outstretched all the way.
I don’t care if he wanted to flip the driver off. He didn’t have the right to because he was crossing at the wrong time, but the least he could do was make it seem like he meant it and commit to the action. I thought to myself that was the most passive flashing of the middle finger I’d ever seen, so he must be a local.
I started laughing so hard I couldn’t get a hold of myself, as did my friends who were walking back with me. It was such a stupid interaction: so weird to hear someone aggressively blast a car horn and then to watch the jaywalker retaliation fail. It was all too much for me.
The jaywalker glared at me as I wiped tears from my eyes, but I wasn’t concerned with him. If he had an issue with me, I’d show him how to really flip someone off. I crossed the street, ignoring his glare and realizing that I would be just fine reentering society again. That is until my next hiatus.