City Varieties of Urban Assholery
posted by August 11 at 21:55 PMon
OK, so, on the way into town on the 194 bus this afternoon, I was lucky enough to witness both of the forms of urban assholery which most piss me off. It was a bit after 3 pm, and there was a large and diverse crowd boarding the long, articulated bus: lots of families, lots of luggage. As I lugged my bags back along the aisle, about one third of the way down the rows of seats facing forward, there sat in the aisle seat a young woman of color. Next to her in the window seat was a large pit-bull mutt of some kind. She coolly looked at each person walking down the aisle, making eye contact (with me at least), just waiting for someone to call her on her bullshit. This was no service dog, just her dog, taking up a seat that some human might have used. This kind of aggressive fuck-you-I-matter-and-you-don’t bullshit in a public place is urban assholery method #1: aggressively take more than is rightly yours.
I got a seat facing the back exit and didn’t look up from my book (more on this later) till we got to the International District. There I had to notice the clueless middle-aged white woman standing and blocking half of the exit doors. She was reading New York Magazine—yes, New York, not the New Yorker. She never deigned to look up as a dozen passengers laden down with baggage and children had to dance around her to disembark the damn bus. After that stop, there were a dozen empty seats within five feet of her: but she never looked up, just kept blocking the exit all the way downtown, slowing everyone down. Form of urban assholery #2: instead of aggressively fucking with people, passive-aggressively ignore the existence of the rest of the world.
The demographic distinctions between the young woman of color and the old white woman struck me, but there is unity in both forms of urban assholery: inconveniencing your fellow citizens by pretending that they don’t matter or that they don’t exist. A seat that a human could have had was occupied by a damn dog. Fast exits and a faster ride for everyone was prevented because some story in New York Magazine was so engrossing.
And urban assholery form #3: putting up with #1 and #2. Everyone on the bus went along with it. No one, including me, said “boo” to the woman blocking the exit, and when I got off at Pioneer Square, the dog still had a nice window view of the tunnel.