How do you know when, or if, someone is going to have a lasting impact on your life? You don’t. And that’s part of this whole problem. A fleeting look of bewilderment, a slight change in the contour’s of one’s face giving way to a smile, a half-hearted glance. It takes two or three seconds to change someone’s life, for better or worse. And that is the scariest thing.
Last weekend, I had the most unpleasant experience; I stupidly traveled into the city on Saint Patrick’s Day. I swam through pools of beer that rushed through the corridors of my train’s cars as I struggled to find a seat in which the person next to me would not be screaming into my ear that she was so glad she met me and that I was her best friend and she could not wait to introduce me to all her other moronic drunk friends who were too far gone to even notice that a newcomer had, unwillingly, entered this one-ended, drunken babble of “conversation”. But I put up with all of this, and I cranked up the volume on my iPod as I slowly counted down the minutes until I would arrive at Penn Station, only to have to face an even larger sea of green… full of angst and alcohol.
And I know that I was not the only person frustrated in the city that day. There were countless other men and women dressed in business attire, clearly not traveling into the city to frolic around like a spastic leprechaun, who looked just as angry and intolerant as I was feeling as I squirmed to wriggle my way out of Penn and out of this nightmarish ordeal. But frustration does not give someone a rightful reason to be rude or mean-spirited.
Yet frustration prevailed that day throughout the city, and I witnessed possibly the most disgusting thing my eyes have been privy to in the past two weeks… and I’ve had a hellish past two weeks, so I’m marking this unfortunate happening at a pretty high caliber.
Towards the end of the day, when I was walking, sprinting really, back to Penn in order to catch a train back home, a man dressed in business attire was walking about two feet in front of me as five others around us all struggled to cross over the avenue before the light changed. As the man was about to step onto the sidewalk (the light had still not changed, mind you), an expensive-looking sports car raced around the corner and almost slammed into the poor pedestrian. The pedestrian looked shocked, as did myself and the other people surrounding me, because the car didn’t have the right of way and the driver was clearly in the wrong. But it was the driver, not the man whose life was almost just taken from him, who pulled down his window and started screaming, loud enough for all of us to hear, that such a “fat pig” should walk faster if he wants to live a long life. There were a few other obscenities thrown into the mix that I do not care to have to share, as they were that atrociously appalling. The poor man’s face turned beat red, and he angrily hit the car with his briefcase as the driver sped off without so much as a second glance.
That driver, with his hateful comments, could have unintentionally ended another innocent bystander’s life, probably only because he himself was having a bad day and not thinking clearly about his words and actions. And I do not mean he could have ended the pedestrian’s life with his car, but with his words. If that pedestrian was having a bad day, a bad week, a bad month, maybe all it would take is one cruel word from a complete and total stranger to send him over the deep end. Has this world learned nothing? Has no one taken any lessons from the Rutgers case that has finally unfolded? Bullying is intolerable. I do not know how many times I can say this and I do not know if saying it will ever even help to solve anything. But I still feel the need to say it, and act on my words. Why? Because words have an effect on people! Everything you say can shape a person’s life for better or worse. It may be unintentional, but it doesn’t matter. You have an effect. Your words have an effect. So, use them wisely.
Now, there are a few things about this scenario that I feel the need to share and discuss with my readers. Do I blame the pedestrian for hitting the man’s car with his briefcase? Absolutely not. In fact, if the man had shouted something disgusting at me, I probably would have done the same thing in a momentary fit of anger. And it’s not that I promote violence. But I will say that you do have to fight for yourself. And by fight, I mean advocate. You need to advocate for yourself with your words and your actions. Am I suggesting that people go off and start fist fights to end bullying? No, I am not, by any means. But you do have to stand up for yourself. You have to know when someone is not treating you right and actively do something about it. You have to remove that person from your life and make a conscious effort to remind yourself that you deserve better, and that you can have better, if you stop letting idiots cloud your judgment and bring down your spirit. You have every right to live your life the way you want to, and no one, especially some stranger, has any right to tell you what is wrong with you or why you shouldn’t be living your life. We all have flaws. But flaws do not lead to our demise, unless we let them.
So, stand up for yourself. Be proud of who you are. Realize that you may not be society’s definition of “perfect” but who wants to live by someone else’s standards? Certainly not me, and you shouldn’t want to either.
Song to Pair with this Posting: When You Were Young, the Killers