Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lesson of the Train Baggage

A week ago I left for my East Coast summer adventure 2015. My cheapest ticket available required me to take the busiest train line at the busiest time of day. In April, when I planned the trip, I made a mental note of this. Last week, with a packing hangover, the mental post-it has fluttered away.

Waiting for the train, I could already feel the heavy judgement surrounding me. Side eyes that said, "Oh, you think you're getting on THIS train, huh?" When it arrived, I crowded around the doors with my suitcase, duffel, and backpack. I acted no different than usual but inside I was absolutely shouting, "You're not gonna fit!" Then another side of me: "Play it, cool, for the love of donuts! Don't let them smell your doubt! They'll elbow you out!"

I made it in, and the general disgust cloud around me stank stronger. My bags were unruly--rolling slightly, bumping knees, threatening to bump the line of sitting women. "I should be sitting," I thought angrily. "Look at me wrestling with this luggage that I NEED because I have to have show clothes and hiking clothes and workout clothes and regular clothes. Don't you all know this!?" I did my best and kept my eyes down from the early morning clucks and tsks. "I'm sorry," I thought--then, "No, I'm NOT sorry." A seat opened. Before another girl could even make a solitary move, I said, "Do you mind if I sit down?" She huffed and turned away, absorbed in earbuds.

I sat with my tiny mountain, people specifically taking the time to sigh as they skirted around me. I trolled internally, "If you had just gotten up and let me sit near the back, no one would have any issues!" As the airport got closer, the car got emptier. Relief.

And I thought. I thought of the times on the train when I to have been grouchy others brought their giant stroller aboard and sat smugly as we all Cirque de Soleil over them. I thought about how most days I don't mind standing on the el, but some days I do mind, and I look rudely at all those guys my age taking up seats. Feminism, yes, but also, in those moments, I just want them to feel bad. And then I think, I think about how many times a tired-looking person towers over me, and I refuse to look up. I was here first, fair and square, and I don't have to feel bad about that. If you wanted a seat so bad, you should have gotten on at an earlier stop. Never mind where you work, where you live, your schedule. Somehow, when I have what I want, your situation is your fault. And when you have what I want, the universe is so so unjust.

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