I work for the one company in NYC that didn’t take yesterday off, so I was riding the bus home as usual last night. Across from me was an elderly Asian man who had loped onto the bus with heavy plastic grocery bags covered in Chinese writing hanging off of his arms, racing invisible passengers for the many seats that were available. He coughed continuously and unabashedly onto the back of the neck of the woman in front of him while I did my best to hold my breath for the entire trip.
In the East Village, the doors opened at one of the stops, and he turned, paused to make sure no one was coming in the door, and tossed a used tissue out onto the sidewalk. ANIMAL! I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by this after almost eight years of seeing people throw their Doritos bags onto the subway floor, tuck their coffee cups into the space between the seat and the side of the bus, and aim their gum generally toward the trash can without any actual worry about whether it makes it in or not, but as a country girl raised to respect the environment, this stuff kills me.
The idea that this guy couldn’t just tuck his tissue into a pocket for the three stops burned me so much that I had to say, “Wooooow. Unbelievable.” He looked over to see who I was talking to, and I met his eyes and said, “You’re awful.”
Well, the guy broke into a big grin and looked so adorable that it caught me off guard. Did he not understand English? Was he just happy someone had spoken to him? I immediately felt guilty for saying anything to this person who was foreign and lonely and sick to boot. I went back to my book but could peripherally see him looking at me and then looking away, looking at me again and then wiping his nose. I wanted to apologize to him, but I had to remind myself that he alone was the reason for the depletion of the ozone layer, the melting of the polar ice caps, and the coming extinction of honey bees.
And when I got home, my boyfriend said he was probably smiling out of pride at offending me, anyway.
– Katie Ett, unapologeticallymundane.com