Thursday, November 20, 2008

Today I found myself challenged in my endeavors to give everyone the benefit of the doubt; to be understanding of circumstances that I don't understand and haven't lived; and to not let negativity I cannot control get under my skin. I had a difficult morning and was a little beside myself anyway - I was running late and was a little disoriented; I took a route unfamiliar to me and almost got off on the wrong stop several times. When I got off at the correct spot, I exited the station from the wrong direction and took a minute to get my bearings. Also,  it was cold today and I hadn't dressed properly for it. Because of my lateness, I started walking quickly down the street. As I passed the McDonald's (perhaps the Dunkin' Donuts) a man exited quickly ahead of me and started screaming. Literally yelling at the top of his lungs in the direction of a blonde woman, who walked nervously ahead of him. I followed slowly behind, not wanting to catch his attention. When I had the chance, I crossed the street. The blonde woman turned a corner and someone told the yelling man to stop hassling her. Then he turned and saw me. He followed me for about a block, yelling at me; calling me a "devil white woman" and saying that I was a sex fiend, a necrophiliac, that my mother was a whore. Needless to say, having a complete stranger focus all of their anger and hatred solely at you is unsettling. People were beginning to notice and a woman offered to walk with me until I had gotten to my destination. She tried to make me feel a little more comfortable told me that she'd make sure he didn't do anything. A man who had been walking behind us stopped the yelling man and tried to talk him down, eventually getting him to stop shouting. What I really appreciated was that these two people got involved in a charged and somewhat frightening situation by trying to comfort and diffuse - not by starting a fight or yelling back. It made the experience almost OK; knowing that people won't hesitate to step in and help another person. I do hope that the yelling man finds some help (I assume that he needs it) and support. Today though I would like to compliment the strangers who helped me - I only got to say a sort of meek "thanks" before they walked away. What great people to be willing to get themselves involved in a very uncomfortable situation in order to help someone they don't even know. Something like this really encapsulates the experience of living in a big city - full of scary and unknown elements but still with a sense of community and love. 

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