Today I was using the bus here in the little city where I live…and I had a test of kindness. I’m not sure that I was very successful at dealing with my feelings about the fellow who sat near me. There was a great deal about him that made me very uncomfortable. He was filthy with bio matter on his sleeves, dried bio matter on his face, a body odor, bad breath, dirty finger nails and an unpleasant way of looking at me. He stared and he didn’t bother hiding what he was thinking either…which was generally sexual. Once a woman knows what it feels like and looks like to see arousal in a man’s facial expression, it’s pretty hard to miss. I could ignore him when he was on the other side of the bus from me…despite his staring. It became impossible to ignore him when he was hanging his arm into my seat deliberately and when he lifted one butt cheek to make a watery sounding fart that stunk badly I felt my stomach turn.

It was very hard for me to feel compassion for this man. I felt guilty about it…and guilty about feeling intensely relieved when he got off the bus. And I wonder at his disregard for me feeling comfortable around him. Most people try to accommodate each other in a public setting like a bus out of common courtesy. I wonder at some people having so little courtesy as to stare like that at a woman and not care at all if he makes her uncomfortable. I wonder if he’s so used to being ignored and disregarded such that it doesn’t even occur to him that he could make anyone feel anything at all.

In hindsight, I feel sad for him and deeply grateful for how spiffy my daily ablutions make me feel and how good it is to take care of myself. I am grateful that people feel comfy in my presence.

8 thoughts on “A Test of Kindness

  1. I think that acknowledging the discomfort of someone who makes you feel uncomfortable, and I would honestly say that would also make me feel uncomfortable, is important. Feeling sad for him actually may be the form that compassion decided to form in this situation.

    I view acceptance as a want…. tolerance more as a need. Which I think although you struggled with acceptance… tolerance is extremely important.

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    1. Hey there CS…*smiles* Yes. I suppose feeling sad for him is a form of compassion. Tolerance isn’t always easy is it?

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      1. I think people overestimate how EASY it is to be tolerant. It really isn’t that easy when faced with an unfamiliar situation or person. I would of been uneasy placed in that situation also and let me reassure you it does not sound like a comfortable ride to me either….

        but

        being open and tolerant of everyone… I think… is one of those very noble goals but something that is suppose to be a struggle. Those who go down that path tend to be, in my opinion, more fulfilled.

        A question I have, since I am assuming this has only happened today, is what if it happens again? You’ve already been exposed to the situation but would it make you feel more comfortable since it is less foreign and you’ve had time to digest?

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        1. CS…I don’t know what will happen the next time I see him. I am sure to run into him again. Its not the first time I’ve seen him in fact. So you’ve asked a good question. No. I don’t think I’ll feel more comfortable with him. Some things about his appearance make my guts heave it disgusts me so much. I had to stare fixedly out the window in order to keep dry heaves at bay. Its not that he was terribly gross visually. The driver wouldn’t have let him on the bus if he’d been completely skanky…but sitting close did reveal details I’d rather not have seen and smelled. I know I’m going to have to deal with this man again. I suspect I’ll do my absolute best to find a seat at the back of the bus where he can’t go because of disability. Sooner or later the bus will be too crowded to avoid sitting nearby again though. I honestly don’t know how things will go then. *shrugs*

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  2. I have to agree. In this situation, you felt the need to remember that he was a person and the desire to be kind to him, even if you didn’t think that you could achieve that. The fact that you even slightly wanted to be kind is probably more than this man receives on a weekly basis. He was indeed rude with you and that you maintained composure and didn’t stoop to rudeness in return is a kindness in itself. You demonstrated great patience and grace.

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    1. Ah…Comfy my dear. Its nice to hear from you! *smiles*

      Yanno…If he had eyes in the back of his head, he’d have seen disapproval and disgust on my face a few times. I’m not sure I was any paragon of virtue about this. I think that’s why I’ve been pondering this…

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  3. I often wonder if when I feel no compassion for someone, what it is in myself that I am having trouble with the most.
    I often recognize my own intolerance with selfish people because it is a character trait in myself that i work very hard to over come.
    It was a ponderous situation.. and I will wonder on it for a while..

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