Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I just don't like hurting people's feelings

Assertiveness has always been a challenge for me. I've gotten better about it, but I'm one of those people who will smile uncomfortably and accept the tuna carpaccio served to me in a restaurant when I had asked for the dish to be well done. I don't want to make the waitress's life any harder. Plus, I've been in food service. I know what happens to people who send their food back. It's just easier not to make waves.

But I think that's beginning to change. Yes, Kristin's Eye of the Tiger is starting to come roaring out in the least likely of places and times...
Just tonight there was a very sleepy (drunk) guy on the subway sitting next to me and he was so tired (trashed) that he kept leaning over and practically laying his head in my lap. I was at first not that bothered by it; it is New York after all and our personal space is always being compromised--it's just one of the prices we pay for the privelege of existing in this energized, busy, fantastic city. I've gotten physically closer to some people on the subway than I have with dates or even some members of my family. You know, it's to be expected.

So my first instinct was to glance down at drunk guy's hair and check for lice. I don't know why...maybe thinking about this allowed me to take the focus off the fact that there was a strange man's head lolling dangerously close to my crotch on a crowded train (on which I was not about to give up my hard-won seat). There weren't any, thank god. Lice, that is.

I sent sent him a gentle elbow. Cleared my throat. Ahem. He responded by tucking his hands up into his armpits and snoring loudly. I tried to concentrate on watching Grey's Anatomy on my ipod. But this gentleman was maybe in a coma. The train gradually cleared out. I got up as we neared my stop. Then drunk guy got up too. I stood by the door so I could jump out when the train stopped. Drunk guy stood right behind me. On a practically empty train. Then he put his hand on the pole I was holding, right above mine. Ugh. Plenty of places you can put your drunk ass, why right next to sober, work-weary, overly-caffeinated, nervous me? I don't know what came over me then. I just turned around and said, "Come ON." I threw my hands up, like, I give up, what's the game? I don't wanna play it.
This is big for me. Usually I just walk away, mostly b/c I don't want to confront strangers (my mother's voice still rings in my head from when I used to go visit the village in college---"Don't make eye contact with anyone!") but I was feeling really violated. He kind of blinked at me, as if maybe he just realized I was standing there. I gave him the evil eye and pushed through the doors when the train stopped. I was glad I spoke up. But I still think some people are just not worth the effort.

1 comment:

Cap'n said...

Way to go, that is how it is done.