Being a commuter in any large city means that you bear witness to some fairly shocking public rudeness from time to time. I have seen some incidents on the TTC ( our "metro") over the years: fist fights, lovemaking, wardrobe changes, hair & make-up, impromptu cocktail parties, gang shootings, and the occasional ditty written and performed by the mentally ill. But today I observed something that goes against everything I ever learned about Christianity.
Now, I normally steer clear of discussing religion. I don't practice one, though I was baptized United (Anglican) as a baby, way before I had the capacity to protest. I'm not spiritual, but everyone else is welcome to believe in and practise whatever faith(s) they want, as long as they don't kill me or bomb my house in the name of that faith. I don't care, just as long as you follow your rules, and you let me follow mine -- without judging me, thank you (lest thee be judged.)
I do recall from my school days that Christianity preaches a lot of lessons about love, brotherhood, kindness and understanding. I also sometimes buy into the hype that Canadians are a polite people, even though I know full well that Torontonians are on the low end of the scale. So imagine my surprise when both these "facts" were challenged during my morning commute today:
It's rush hour, I'm standing in a long line at a bus stop with close to 30 others, and I'm the 4th person in the queue. Traditionally, this is "line up" is considered a fair and orderly method to board a bus during peak times: the bus opens its doors at the front of the line, you let some riders off first to clear the seats, then you file in one at a time and pay your fare. Simple, but effective.
Today, there were some traffic delays on my route, so the bus was really packed and we knew all 30 of us wouldn't fit, so the people at the back of the line would have to wait for the next one. They normally run 2 to 5 minutes apart, so it's not really a big deal, and hey, that's life. But there was this short, fat, irritable-looking middle-aged woman who paced back and forth along the line like a caged lion.
When the bus finally arrived, Rude Lady rushed to the front of the line, pushing a young mother with her small child out of her way. The child appeared to be sideswiped across the face with Rude Lady's enormous tote bag. The kid started crying and holding his hand over his eye, while his mother gaped in disbelief and may have managed to say "hey, watch it!" or something to that effect, but I missed it because this woman was unstoppable as she assaulted her way onto that bus.
She didn't wait for the other riders to get off the bus, and she bowled over a little old lady who was delicately trying to step off the bus with her cane and a handful of shopping bags. At this point, the bus driver helped grandma retrieve her things, and then yelled at Rude Lady for her terrible behaviour. She replied by flipping him the bird and saying "fuck you, buddy", but not exactly loud enough for him to hear her.
For her grand finalé, Rude lady squeezed her capable ass into a seat reserved for handicapped/elderly people, trumping the legitimately elderly man in front of me out of his hard-earned seat. He said nothing, he just half-smiled and sighed loudly. Everyone who watched Rude Lady's performance shared a silent look that said "yeah, she's a real piece of work, huh?"
After the uproar, Rude Lady shot me a super dirty look (probably because I was staring at her), and reached into her handbag and pulled out a large thick hardcover book to read.
It was The Holy Bible.
She had it bookmarked more than three quarters of the way in, so we knew for sure she must have chosen to ignore all the lessons about kindness and doing unto others and not being a big fucking douchebag.