I was on the 16, I had asked Andy come and pick me up at the White Castle on University and Lexington, instead of waiting on the 21 and having him pick me up at Selby. Three people got on the bus. They were all middle aged (that is to say somewhere between my age and old) and black. Two of them had bags and a pizza between them. They had just run hard to make the bus and they were drunk. The third got on the bus without me taking much notice of him or her.
The two drunk people were arranging their stuff in the three aisle facing seats in the front of the bus, pizza box, bags, backpack, finding their transfers and panting. The man greeted everyone in that way that people who’ve been drinking have, sort of a forced casual tone (“Hey, hows it going”). As he bent forward to dig through a bag, he began to topple over onto me, almost falling into my lap. I put one hand up and planted it in the middle of his back.
He looked around surprised. Then he looked at me. “OOOh. I’m sorry, you’re a very beautiful woman.” I said “That’s alright.” and rearranged my stuff. He leaned over to me and said, “I didn’t mean to get in your space.” I said, “Don’t worry about it.” He said, “You don’t need to be arrogant like that. S’pecially around black folk. Cuz I don’t give a fuck. That’s right.”
I have to remember he was drunk. But in my defense I really wouldn’t have cared if it was his black ass or his white ass that landed in my lap. It wasn’t a race thing. But he must have had lots of pent up anger, because I’m actually really nice, and I behaved myself even when dude totally encroached on my personal space. How can I deal with that?
It made me mad. Really mad. Who the hell was he to bring race into the picture? It brought up all my pent up angers at people like him. The groups of young black teenagers who dare me to honk as they spread out slowly across the street, and the black punks who smashed my neighbor-boys’ pumpkins last year (and made them cry), and the drunkards who stumble and piss all over the sidewalk in the summer… as they all danced in my head, for just a second I understood why he was angry.
But I behaved myself.