The other day, on the subway, I inadvertently smushed my handbag into some girl's face. She voiced her displeasure thusly: "You get your BAG outta my FACE."
You may sympathize with this reaction, particularly if you're the type who doesn't like handbags in your face. I, on the other hand, got mad, because I'm the type who doesn't like getting shoved.
Many might have crumpled before this show of aggression. However, I, an unrepentant Tough and Gritty New Yorker, was not about to back off. So I looked her squarely in her eye and I said - and I want to stress this is a real thing I said -
"You COULD say EXCUSE ME. You DON'T HAVE to be RUDE about it. "
You DON'T HAVE to be RUDE about it.
All the bloodlust in the world, or at least the Bronx, coursing through my veins - and all I could manage was to sound like somebody's uppity granny. She should have slapped me around. I considered slapping me around. The words still replay in my brain daily, in all their gooky self-righteousness. You DON'T HAVE to be RUDE about it, my brain squeals, on medical appoinments, at work, at dinner with friends. The shame is real.
What is to be done about this? Well, the ideal would be to go around with a mental repertoire of scathing retorts at the ready. But if you're anything like me, you can't remember scathing retorts. So your best bet is to carry a handy list. Then you will have conversations like this:
PERSON ON TRAIN: You get your BAG outta my FACE.
YOU: (Stand there blankly for a moment, because you remember faintly, back in some dark recess of your mind, that this is your cue to do something. You just can't remember WHAT. So, stalling for time, you reply as follows.)
Oh YEAH? ... YEAH? Well...
(Suddenly it dawns on you, and you fumble around for your list.)
Hang on a second.
(You dig madly through your bag, throwing things every which way: a lipstick, a wad of receipts, a coupon for Chock Full o' Nuts-brand coffee, etc. Finally you locate the list of witty retorts.
A-HA! Here we go! Well, uh...
(You stare at the list.)
Um. I'm sorry. Can you start over?
PERSON ON TRAIN (having forgotten the whole affair): Huh?
YOU: Um, well, I mean, we've kind of lost momentum. Can you say it again?
PERSON ON TRAIN: Say what again?
YOU: "Get your bag outta my face."
PERSON ON TRAIN (deeply affronted): My bag isn't IN your face.
YOU: No, no, no. "GET YOUR bag OUTTA MY face."
PERSON ON TRAIN: (shoots you at close range)
Naturally any thinking court would rule this a justifiable homicide. So now technically I've forgotten what my original point was, if I had one. But I do want to close, on this Thanksgiving, by offering this heartfelt counsel to all my brethren, human and train-travelers alike: don't shove people, because shoving makes enemies. Then the shoved enemy will write a totally anonymous blog entry about you that you'll never see, and boy will YOU be sorry. So be a lover, not a shover. OK?
And if you disagree with me, fine. But you DON'T HAVE to be RUDE about it.