It seemed funny at first.
An elderly Inuit woman, who had a big smile and appeared endearingly kooky, struck up a conversation with the young woman sitting next to her on the bus.
I was at the back, so I wouldn’t have paid them any attention except for the elderly woman’s shocked (and very loud) exclamation.
“You’re a guy! Why didn’t you tell me you were a guy? But are you wearing MAKE-UP? Why are you wearing girl’s cosmetics?”
Like I said, it seemed amusing at first. Quirky. I’m sure it was annoying as hell for the young woman she kept talking at, but it was harmless.
Then it turned ugly.
The elderly woman went from talking about cosmetics and how they were for girls to loudly proclaiming that men were men and women were women…it said so in the Bible. Another girl’s protest that the cosmetic-wearer was, in fact, a woman was ignored.
After a few minutes, the harassed girl got tired of being told she was an aberration against God, and started to get a bit pissed off. That was when it got really ugly. Rather than backing down, the elderly woman unleashed more venom:
“You should go back where you came from! What are you, wearing your hair so ugly like that? I’m a Canadian, from Arctic Canada. I belong here.”
At this point, the harassed girl (who was a beautiful young black woman with long shining braids of black and gold) crossed the aisle to stand beside a mother with a stroller. The bus was packed. There was no escape.
Not satisfied that she’d done enough damage, the senior started talking on her cell phone about the “rude” guy on the bus who was a freak wearing cosmetics with ugly hair and how she shouldn’t have to sit beside anyone like that. This new monologue was even louder than the previous one.
At this point, a man walked over and whispered something in her ear. When she kept spewing hate, he whispered it again. I don’t know what he said, but he didn’t look happy. And whatever he did, it worked, because the woman stopped attacking the girl and started yelling, “a man on the bus is threatening me!” into her phone. Not that I’m condoning violence, but if he did, more power to him.
People came up to the man and thanked him for doing what they couldn’t…standing up for someone who was clearly being victimized. I called this post ‘everyday hero’ because I certainly can’t call him ordinary. Someone who will actually speak up to protect someone else is clearly extraordinary. I only hope I would have done the same if I’d been nearby. We’re always so afraid to act, lest the crazy person turns on us.
I was grateful to leave that bus behind. I had tears in my eyes, thinking of that girl and how her night had probably been ruined. She kept her back turned to everyone for the rest of the ride, reporting the incident on her cell phone.
“She said I was a guy. She said I should go back to where I came from…”
These are the wounds whose scars do not heal.