I Wasn’t Nice to Some Guy on the Train

I got on a crowded commuter train yesterday and a biggish guy sat down next to me wearing shorts, with a big bag. I was reading the Forward, an article headlined, Bush Riles Muslims With ‘Islamic Fascist’ Remark, when the guy reached out, smacked the article, and said, “As if Muslims don’t already have a ton of good reasons to hate Bush!” It pissed me off that he was becoming immediately familiar and making the assumption that we shared politics, and even if we did share politics, I didn’t look at him but said coldly, “Good point,” and went on reading. Well, after that he realized he’d breached etiquette and for the rest of the trip he was very uncomfortable. He got out a book and made a big point of reading, then he got out his little bottle of wine, then he stood up for a while and just looked out the window like he needed to stretch his legs. Finally when I got off the train, he said, “Watch out, don’t trip over my bag—I do that.” He was just a nice guy. Maybe he was from out of town. I smiled at him, but by then of course it was too late.

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