I was on an overcrowded bus tonight, heading home. The ride’s soundtrack consisted of cell phone ringtones, traffic, and a young girl chatting loudly on her cell phone, in a nasal voice only slightly less annoying than Fran Drescher’s, discussing various TV shows. Noisily. Incessantly.
I’m sure that, like me, many other riders were annoyed at this mind-numbingly obtuse waste of air. But since she was relatively harmless, we ignored her. Except for the man sitting directly to her right.
The man looked at her and said, “Excuse me, would you mind keeping it down and lowering your voice?” His own voice was resonant, I assumed, to be sure she would hear him over the sound of her own chatter. She looked at him, uncertain.
He continued, louder still: “You’re on a bus, you know? I don’t need to hear this – no one needs to hear your STUPID conversation”, the word STUPID materializing into a thunderous grey cloud over his head, just waiting to release its lightning.
However uninterested I was in the girl’s titillating opinion of 30 Rock and The Big Bang Theory, she didn’t deserve being spoken to this way. She calmly and softly replied, “You just had to ask me. You don’t need to speak to me this way.” She gets points for keeping her cool.
One might think that was the end of that. But one would be mistaken.
The man barked, “Here, let me show you what it’s like to have a loud conversation on the bus.” He fished his cell phone out of his pocket and hollered to a nonexistent pal: “HELLO! YES, OK!” before flipping his phone closed. The girl just looked at him, dumbfounded.
Still not done humiliating her, he yelled: “You see what it’s like? No one cares what you have to say about some stupid show [mumble mumble] inconsiderate [blah blah] insensitive.”
Despite efforts to resist, the words “You’re an asshole” were just about to roll off my tongue, when he stood up and got off the bus. Everyone followed him with their eyes and finally remembered to breathe.
Evidently public transit isn’t for everyone. For a man so irritated at hearing a phone conversation, it sure as hell didn’t seem to matter that his rant was heard by people three buses down.