I have a tiny scar on my left middle finger.
You have to look real close to see it and to most people it looks normal, like a slightly lighter part of my skin.
But I know it’s a scar.
I’d just gotten my hair done my senior year of college and was taking the subway from Harlem down to my dorm in Greenwich Village. I was feeling good – for once I’d gone to the right hair salon and was happy with the results so yeah, for me it was a good day. Even though the subway car was packed I didn’t really mind much even though I hate crowded spaces.
What I did mind was the girl hogging the pole in one of the cars. Normally, when I see that kind of thing I just cut my eyes at the passenger and sort of piss and moan about it in my head. But on this day I was feeling bold. I went up to the pole, gingerly touched it with a finger and said to the clueless passenger, “Excuse me.” I wasn’t rude. I wasn’t loud. I used my polite voice even though I was careful not to smile. She looked startled and annoyed but moved her hand and went back to listening to her Ipod. I did the same and closed my eyes for the ride home.
At the next stop, the doors opened and I felt this searing pain in my left middle finger. I opened my eyes and was shocked to see the girl was stabbing me with a ring on her finger. There was a pointy part on her ring and she’d positioned her hand in such a way so that she could prick my hand with it. I was being secretly attacked in plain sight! I was so shocked that I just stared at her. Was this really happening? Was this crazy person really that upset at being asked to share space that she felt the need to inflict bodily harm on a total stranger? I couldn’t believe it.
I hadn’t realized she was crazy. She’d looked like a normal girl – inconsiderate yes but still normal. I looked from my injured finger to the girl who was staring right at me and something about the look in her eyes chilled me to the bone. She was definitely touched in the head. I finally had the good sense to move my hand and just as the doors to the subway car were about to close she ducked out. I looked at my finger again and saw a tiny line of blood trickling from the place where I’d been cut.
I never said anything to anyone.
When I got to my dorm I just put a bandaid on the stupid cut and I tried my best to put the memory out of my mind. But every once in awhile the memory resurfaces when I notice the scar on my finger. I know the attack could’ve been so much worse- and actually there are moments I could talk about where the attack was so much worse. But they hadn’t happened publicly as far as I can remember – and they hadn’t been triggered by two little innocuous words, “Excuse me.”
And why is there always some inconsiderate person with their body wrapped around the pole in a subway car? It’s there for passengers to hold onto so we don’t fall and knock into each other. It’s not there for people to practice their pole dancing. Hold the pole with one hand and leave room for other people to do the same. How hard is that?
That’s always been one of my biggest pet peeves. It’s one of the reasons why I hate taking the subway. When I moved to LA and got a car I was relieved not to have to take public transportation because then I didn’t have to run into those inconsiderate pole dancers hogging up space in a subway car (instead I have to deal with the crazies driving on the 405, ah well, you can’t win ’em all). At least when I went to London I didn’t see that at all. And those subway cars are super compact and get crowded quickly. I think if someone actually tried to hog a pole they’d get head butted – and rightly so.
(Or maybe not – look, there’s seriously never a reason to put your hands on another person – I don’t care how annoying they’re being. If they’re not hurting you then keep your hands to yourself.)
When I think about that girl I wonder what she’s like now. I wonder if she ever regretted her actions or if she’s in jail because “keeping it real” finally went wrong for her.
Part of me hopes Karma got back at her in a big way. Another part of me hopes she’s OK. I don’t know why but for some reason I mostly felt sorry for her. Sure she literally drew blood from me and probably walked away feeling like a big shot and yes, if I could go back in time I would’ve at least said something…but overall I just feel sad for her…you never know what people are going through.
Perhaps if I had smiled things would’ve been different.