Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Public Space"

Today while riding the bus on my way to take a test, there were a two young mothers with 2-3 year old kids. The kids were enjoying themselves, as 3 year old kids do.

Eventually a man about my age got on the bus. He on a ratty t-shirt, sweat pants that were riding a little low, and great big, Elton John-esque sunglasses. I remember thinking that he was probably heading to the university, because he seemed to exude the "look at me! I live an alternate lifestyle" vibe.

The kids eventually were rambunctious, laughing loudly and hitting the window while their mom's spoke to each other over the back of the seat.

Big sunglasses man says, in a loud voice, "This is a public space! Public space!" I thought to myself, "Did he just tell that young mother to get her kids to shut up? I think he did." That made me mad. Who does this guy think he is?

I don't think the mothers paid him any attention, but I started to prepare a response in case he tried it again.

He did. "Hey, you're in a public space here, you need to control your kids."

Me-"Hey buddy you're in a public space, too. She's not smoking or doing anything harmful, her kid is being a kid."

Him- "But she is in a public space, she has a responsibility as a parent to control her children."

When he responded, I learned that adrenaline dumps and the fight or flight instinct show up even in a non life-threatening situation, because my mouth got dry, my throat tightened, I felt something like cold water suddenly in the middle of my chest, and my arms and hands felt cold and slightly numb and tingly.

From here on out, I don't remember exactly what I said, neither of us were speaking very eloquently, we probably both had that confrontation response flowing through our veins.

I said something like, "There just being kids, they're too young to know any better."

He said, "They're giving me a headache, would you like it if I started screaming?"

Me-"No, but you aren't three." The noisy kid looked like he was three.

At some point I said that the mom didn't deserve to be harassed for taking the bus to save some money. He responded by pointing to the stroller she had brought on board, saying she shouldn't have it because it was made in China, it polluted carbon during the manufacture, and that it was taking up half the room on the bus.

It was in the space that was designated for wheelchair users, and there were none of those on the bus.

His comment about the stroller really took me off guard, so I said what I thought.

"Are you saying that she should have carry a forty pound kid in her arms everywhere she goes instead of using a stroller?"

He said no, but the kid was loud, he had had a seizure this morning, and that his heavyset, black-wearing, tattooed female friend could probably control the kids. At least I think that's what he said.

I wondered if he was being serious, that he was worked up enough that he would go over and try himself to quiet the kid. If he tried it, well, I wasn't going to let that happen.

But that's the kind of thing you think about when your lizard brain thinks a fight is on its way. Of course he didn't do anything like that.

During our conversation, I twice told him that if he was really that bothered, he could get off at the next stop and take another bus. He said that the mom had a responsibility to "control her kid" so that Mr. Sunglasses could ride the bus in peace.

My stop was fast approaching, the argument had run its course, and I was late for a test so I got off. It took me a really long time to fish out my electronic bus card out of my shirt pocket and untangle it from the iPod headphones that were in there.

It also took me a long time to consider, and answer the test questions when I got to class.

Guy thinks the bus is his own personal limousine, and that he has the right to impose his own will and values on other people, in the name of public space. What a self righteous, left wing jerk.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kids need to be controlled. The guy may have been obnoxious, but he had a point.
This used to be more understood in society. Nowdays not so much; as a result, people in restaurants and other ... "public places" find themselves harassed by kids, and when they complain about it, the parents -- instead of being apologetic -- get all offended and respond poorly.
But it's really all about disciplining children in proper behaviour in public, so they don't grow up to be obnoxious adults who where funky glasses.
Or do worse things ......