whswhs (whswhs) wrote,

seen in the wild

Yesterday I had an errand to run that involved taking the bus. About halfway to my destination a woman got on and apparently sat down without paying; at any rate the driver spoke to her and she said, "Just a minute," and fished in her purse and then went up to the front. She sat down again, and the driver asked her for another quarter.

That's when it got weird: She claimed not to have a quarter, and then she told the driver he should stop watching pornography and called him a misogynist. And she went back and sat down.

So the driver didn't drive on; as is standard practice, he stayed at the stop until the situation was cleared up. And another passenger, also a woman, turned to the first woman and complained about her holding the bus up; if she didn't have a quarter, the second woman said, she should ask people if they had a quarter. The first woman said something about the bus being federally funded, and the second one said that she still had to pay to ride. And eventually the first woman went up, took out a quarter, and paid the rest of the fare. So apparently that whole drama wasn't about her actually not having the fare at all. And I'm really not sure what it was about.

But the exchange didn't stop there: The second woman had been annoyed about having the bus held up for this drama, and the first woman "apologized" to her—but the actual wording was "I'm sorry you're so full of rage," which is quite clearly not an actual apology: It's reframing the situation from "I did something that inconvenienced and offended you" to "You are a person who is inherently angry and your anger is not about me in any way," with a touch of "And I'm better than you because I'm not being angry back at you." Now, I've seen that sort of nonapology quoted in political disputes, and I've seen it once in a roleplaying game I was running ("I'm sorry you weren't strong enough to deal with my pointing an electrolaser at you" was a classic line); but I don't recall running into it out in the natural social environment before.

The accusation of misogyny was strange too: All the driver had done was ask her to pay the full fare, which any driver, male or female, would have to do with any passenger, male or female. So this was a really striking case of a situation being framed as abuser and victim in a purely manipulative way that bore no relation to the facts. And it wasn't without effect: I thought of saying something myself at the outset—I wanted to get to my destination and take care of my own errands!—but I figured that anything I said would also be dismissed as "misogynistic" and not do any good. And I'm not sure whether to think of my own silence as prudence or timidity.
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