And with either, apparently, one cannot block out the world by listening to one's iPod and completely ignoring those soliciting whatever it is they are soliciting.
Although iPods do work wonders for blocking out homeless people asking for money, which I know might sound mean to those that don't see it daily, but since I do, it's all I can do to keep my sanity.
The street I walk up and down to get to work and then to the train station is "Do you have time for..." central. Time for peace, time for the environment, time for whatever. These people work in twos, one facing one direction, the other facing the other direction, but both facing each other, and they stand about 5-7 feet apart from each other. And for whatever reason, if there are several people around me, walking in the same direction as me, who are not listening to their iPods, I am the one that gets singled out even though I am listening to my iPod, an activity that should clearly signal: I have no time for nothing and leave me be! And one of these days, I'm going to stop and tell them that I do not, in fact, have any time for anything except getting my butt home and picking up my kid from daycare. Not that they would really care at all, they would just throw some hippy hoodoo voodoo my way and try to convert me.
And then there is public transportation.
The types of people on public transportation is as varied as our country. There are all kinds with all kinds of smells and all kinds of crazy levels.
Yesterday something happened to me that made me so livid, so mad, so crazed that I just wanted to start crying. Yes, that's right - crying. Because when I get super frustrated, that's what I do. I cry.
There is absolutely nothing more annoying than being on a train (my case) and having to deal with solicitors. Because when the train is moving, you are basically trapped. It's not like when you're at home and you can refuse to open the door, or if you did open the door, then close it and lock it. It's not like having caller ID and just not answering the phone because it's a number you don't recognize. It's not like walking and being
Generally being on public transportation, while annoying, is a perfectly fine thing. You can even sleep without complete fear that someone will cut your head off (I refer to the Canadian incident on Greyhound). And if you take public transportation long enough, you're sure to have just about everything happen to you, which isn't so comforting, but at least you know it's coming, which is better than it being a surprise.
I'm a seasoned train rider - I've been riding to the train to San Francisco for 10 years now. Day in and day out. I know the ropes. And I've had just about everything happen to me. So I'm perfectly okay with making a scene when a scene needs to be made. My laundry list of train riding highlights include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Being choked by some whacked out lady.
2. Having a man caress my hair to wake me up since he was very worried that I would miss my stop (and no, he didn't know which stop was mine).
3. Having creepy, icky men sit next to me and press their body bits against mine - whether intentional or not, it's still repulsive and creepy.
4. Having stanky homeless men purposely sit next to me even though there are plenty of other vacant seats.
5. Having really overweight people sit next to me even though there is no room for the two of us, which means I get squished.
6. Having a man whisper into my ear (he was behind me) about how interesting my book was because I guess he was looking over my shoulder most of the time.
7. Having a man tell me to "hurry up" when I was about 8 months pregnant because I wasn't moving fast enough for him.
8. Having to stand up while 8 months pregnant when teenagers and other perfectly handy capable people sat in the handicap seats (I know, my fault for not yelling at them, but if I did that, I would have started crying, see above for the whole "when frustrated, I cry" bit).
9. Being called various choice names.
I'm sure there is more. Actually, I know there is more. But those are the highlights.
I got on at my normal station, with my normal train, and my normal group of people who take the train at that time. I sat down and began reading a short story my friend wrote for a web site (looky me, adding in advertising so very slyly) while listening to music.
I noticed there was someone moving person to person, giving some sort of spiel. When he got to me he said, "Excuse me. Excuse me, Miss. Ma'am? Excuse me?!" and eventually crouched down so he could look at my face.
I continued to ignore him because from my past experiences the only reason people do this is to get money. For whatever reason. He definitely had a lot to say to people, so that was another reason to ignore him because my train ride is my "me" time. I get 45 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes in the evening to read, listen to music or watch or listen to podcasts. Or sleep. This is my damn time and it would behoove everyone to leave me alone. I did realize I could tell him to leave me alone, or listen to him and then tell him to leave me alone, but I happen to be one person who does not like it when other people think they can bother others on their whim and for no reason I care to know about.
So he pshawed me and moved on to give his spiel to other people. By then we had stopped at another station and picked up more people, so he went to the back of the car and made the rounds again. You'd think he'd pass me up, right? Or did I really fool him into thinking I had absolutely no idea someone was talking to me or trying to make eye contact with me? Yeah, I don't think so. He was just persistent.
"Excuse ME!" he said and this time touched my shoulder.
After being chocked and having my hair caressed, I'm really not too keen on random people touching me. I'm not even keen on people I know touching me.
"Do not touch me," I said as I turned to look at him. "And.Leave.Me.Alone."
He mumbled something and then moved on to the lady in front of me who then listened to his spiel while shaking her head no about three times.
I was so livid and annoyed and frustrated that this can and does happen, and maybe a little frustrated that this is the type of world we live in now where one person isn't comfortable with a stranger talking to them without feeling like they want something in return. I checked to make sure I had the BART police number in my phone, which I did, and continued ignoring what was going on around me yet never quite ignoring everything that was going on around me. It takes years of practice to be unaware while being aware.
And this, this is why I like to hole up in my home or my work building.