Taking the subway in Toronto
On the subway the other day I stood up to offer an older woman–but not really that much older than me– my seat. The woman looked at me, irritated rather than grateful, “Why would you do that?” she challenged.
“Oh, I just feel like stretching, really and thought you might like to sit down, and of course, I am a very, very classy man.”
“No, you’re not. I see the way you’ve been looking at that black girl over there.”
This took me aback.
“What?” I asked.
“Don’t give me that,” she said.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Oh, you know exactly what I’m talking about,” she pointed to a young woman sitting about 10 yards away. “Her, the one with the tits. I bet you just wanted to give me your seat so you could get closer to her, get a better look, eh?”
“ Jesus,” I said, “I wasn’t looking at her, I didn’t even know she was there.”
I sat back down in the seat.
“You’re at least twice her age. You could be her FATHER,” the woman declared.
Across from me a woman pulled a Kleenex from her purse and dabbed at the conjunctivitis that had taken hold of her left eye, and just over her shoulder her sat a woman of about 60 who had a look of abject defeat and exhaustion to her. Her arms were crossed over her chest and she had what must have been hundreds of old, cutting scars on them. Her hair was colourless and she seemed so spent on this planet as to be virtually a ghost.
The woman who did not want my seat looked back at me.
“What is it with middle-aged white guys and black girls, anyway? I mean, really? You think you have a chance?
“Look,” I said, “ I wasn’t looking at anybody. I’m happily married. I’m just a guy sitting on a subway, a guy who made the huge, terrible mistake of offering you his seat.”
I gave the woman a hard look, inviting her to say something else.
She looked like she was going to say something, but then she bent down, picked a penny up off the floor, put it in a plastic baggie and then moved along to the next car.