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Friday, January 19, 2007

The next stop on the train is...

This happened to me last week... I wrote up a blog on it in order to get out the frustration that the moment caused. My friend commented that I should check out hollabackboston.

glad to know that strong women can unite against crap like this.

here's the post:

I was tired last night.
The kind of tired where you've ceased to care how your hair looks, what day it is, or if your shoes are tied. I held the handrail all 100 stairs leading down to the subway station, for fear that a lazy step would send me ass-over-kettle down to the platform. These weary train rides home have become a daily occurance, and this one started out typical.
The T car held the usual assortment of characters; the gaggle of city highschoolers, crossword commuters, and young professionals.

I chose my seat in an empty-ish part of the train, so I could be alone with my thoughts, and shut my eyes without being bothered.
The doors closed, and my eyes settled into a blank stare at the floor.
A couple stops later at Harvard, a disheveled gray man disrupted my stare. He lumbered into the doors and sighed loudly while easing himself into the seat across from me.

Back to staring. This time, at the floor next to his shoes. I surrendered my mind to the shuffle of my iPod.

A gentle movement in front of me coaxed my eyes up to the newspaper resting in the lap of gray hoodie man.
Eyes still vacant, I became midly aware of the newsprint flexing repetitively.
As my thoughts drew back to reality, I focused on his hand bobbing between his legs.


I looked closer.
ew. scratching his old balls.

A shaft of skin revealed itself,
and then I realized.


he was masturbating.

Anger and disgust exploded in me. My eyes flashed up to his with a fury. I realized then, that he had been waiting for this moment. His head lolled back as his eyes rolled from my face, and into the back of his head.

My head whipped away while my whirled on what to do next. Panicked, I searched the faces of the people in the next set of seats.
No one else noticed the old man pleasuring himself at my expense. I looked out the window, the train was slowing down to Charles MGH.

should i get off?
The sonata in my heaphones faded far away as each thought slow-motion-crashed into the next. My mouth was dry and fell open in shock.
Distantly, the T doors opened, closed, and the train began to speed up again.
Robotically, I stood up and walked noticably quick to the other end of the train where the majority of commuters had settled. I hid behind a large black woman reading a magazine.
Visibly concerned, I craned my neck around her girth to the tainted end of the train. I couldn't see him.

I was getting off at Park Street, the next stop.

In retrospect I should have done something. Told someone. Or publicly humiliated him. But what good would that have done? I may have suceeded in making him just as uncomfortable as he made me. I could have gotten him arrested, sentenced to registry as a sex offender, or roughed up by an equally offended male commuter. Chances are, he's done it before and may do it again. I'd rather not think about how I should have had the guts to react more constructively than running away. But it did teach me more about my emotional reflexes. How I reacted to a situation, what I felt, and what that reveals about my personality.
While traumatic in many ways, it also sobered me on my field-of-daisies outlook on life. It was GROSS, don't get me wrong.
But a life lesson as well.

I practically jumped up from my seat at Park Street, rushed off the train and down the tiled hall to the green line. I didn't look back as the train barreled into the tunnel, leaving a sliver of my girlish innocence swirling in the wind behind it.


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