Saturday, July 23, 2011

today on the metro

I was in the center of the city with Morgan today buying presents and souvenirs and just generally walking around. When we decided to head out separate ways, I caught the metro towards my house. I got on the train and plopped down in my seat, headphones in and my music on shuffle. when i sat down i noticed there was a woman sitting across from me who looked... a little odd. something was wrong with her, she was looking off into the distance as if really distracted. i first noticed it at a glance but didnt pay to much attention to it, closed my eyes, and rested my head on the side of the metro car. a little while later, i noticed that there was a man standing in front of her, who was her husband (maybe he was her boyfriend but my guess would be husband, either way, it was clear they were together). further down the bench, space for two people to sit had opened up and he got the woman's attention and motioned to move down the bench so they could both sit down. she was reluctant to look at him, something i attributed to her being distracted, but when he did manage to get her attention she shook her head no to his request to move. the man then said something, the words were muffled by the noise of the moving train, but the firm and almost threatening nature of what he said was apparent through his body language. after that, they moved.

the seats they moved to happen to be directly across from me, making it almost difficult not to look at least in their direction. the man was sitting on the left and the woman on the right, turned to the right, away from her companion. i noticed tears start to well up in the womans eyes, which then escalated to her scrunching up her forehead and gently wiping the tears away with her fingers as to not ruin her makeup. she was crying. the man, at first didnt notice that she was upset enough to cry, and was just playing with his camera. when he finally did look at her and noticed that she was crying, he immediately grew very angry. after this point, i watched as things escalated. the woman became increasingly upset, started crying louder and harder and, correspondingly, the man got angrier and angrier. he never said a word to her, it was clear she would have ignored him anyway, but his face consistently god redder and redder and his hands started to bunch up into fists. then, those fists tightened until his knuckles became white. his anger was pretty palpable at this point and every time he shifted his weight or the car rocked, i thought he was going to hit the woman, who was basically sobbing at this point.

i began to think about what would happen if he hit her. would anyone do anything? most likely not. would i do something??? also most likely not. i got really anxious and rose to the edge of my seat, all the while a debate raging in my head. on one hand, the russian mentality of 'it's not your problem' where omnipresent, as no one really cared or even noticed the situation, and if they did, they were all so good at just zoning it out. on the other hand, i couldnt comprehend watching, directly in front of me, a man beating his wife. i have never been in a situation where i have watched domestic violence happen before my eyes and as much as i might like to say, in principle, i would intervene, i am not entirely sure what would have happened. either way, in the moment, my conviction grew and i noticed as my fingers also started to curve into fists. i analyzed my surroundings and determined what would be the best way to intercept him if he started to hit her. he wasnt particularly big and looked about 50's - 60's without frequent exercise, meaning if he would tire and give up quickly. granted, i reminded myself, i wasnt planning on fighting this man, and i was aware and anxious and replete with anticipation enough to stop him and simply put myself in between the two of them before he really did anything.

at this point, something interesting happened. the man looked at me, into my eyes, for about 5.... long, seconds. when he looked at me and i noticed he was actually looking at me, instead of looking through me, because i was the only person on the train who seemed to care that this woman was crying, i shook my head at him, slowly. im not really sure whether i was trying to say a plea: "dont do it, please, dont do it" or a confrontational: "i am going to intervene if you make a move." the man then looked down at my torso and saw my hands at my side and at-the-ready and the fact that i was literally on the edge of my seat. the man looked me in the eyes again and his eyes squinted as he thought and evaluated.

tbe train pulled into the station, my station, and the woman shot out of her seat and out of the door on the metro car, the man followed and i followed after that. I watched the woman practically run to the escalator and secure a place standing next to a stranger, forcing her husband, who was at minimum 40 paces behind her, to stand a good distance away from her on the escalator. the same thing happened when they got to the top of the escalator, she bounced out of the metro station basically jogging and he followed, walking. i crossed the street and headed towards my apartment. as i was walking through the park i always through to get to and from the metro, One Tin Solder by Joni Mitchell came on my iPod (that's for you gooch and ceraldi :) ) and i sat down on a park bench and started crying.

i thought about what would happen, what could happen to between to couple when they got home. i thought about how many times it had happened before and how many times it will happen again with nothing being done. i thought about hate and meanness between human beings and why it happens. i thought about my responsibility, our responsibility, if any, to help and look out for one another or whether the world is a cold, dark, dog-eat-dog place where, at the end of the day, we are all alone, looking out for ourselves.

im emotional right now, clearly. maybe anyone reading this thinks its stupid or over the top and i may think that way too when i reread my post tomorrow, or even in an hour lol, but its how i am feeling right now, for whatever reason.

thanks for reading

1 comment:

  1. Syd, you described this with a lot of sensitivity, and I felt like I was there. Good for you for trying to communicate in some way to this guy.
    Take care, Susie