You looked so slick in your bespoke suit, your polished wingtips, your neatly trimmed hair. You strode purposefully, manfully, through the crowd, Wall Street Journal tucked under your arm, eyes fixed ahead. You couldn’t have been a broker or hedge fund manager – too late in the morning to be on the subway, and to be on the subway in the first place – but still, you smelled of business and money clips and your walk told me that you probably had some meeting to get to, some merger to oversee, some economy to destroy.
That’s what I saw, anyway, as you strode toward me, the mom, shuffling along in capri pants and scuffed ballet flats and wrinkled Gap t-shirt, pushing the Maclaren, singing to the toddler fidgeting within. I don’t know if you saw me, I don’t know what you saw, but I do know this: we were in your way.
We were pushing our way through the open-gated ticket entrance, the one that strollers and wheelchairs use, the one that isn’t supposed to be used as an exit, the one that you were exiting through anyway. There was you, and there was us, and there were twenty or forty or a hundred other commuters thronging through the downtown station and we got stuck. We were coming in, you were coming out. We came to a stop, me and my baby, and we waited for you to step aside. We expected you to step aside.
You stared right over our heads and kept walking. You just kept right on walking. You lifted your perfectly-creased pantleg and stepped over the front-end of the stroller, stepped over the stroller, baby and all, and kept right on walking.
You stepped over my stroller, you stepped over my baby in her stroller, and knocked me in the shoulder as you pushed by. You stepped over my baby and you didn’t lose pace, you didn’t miss a step, you didn’t give it a thought. You have, I’m sure, done this before. Maybe not with a stroller – maybe it was a wheelchair, maybe a walker, unfortunately attached to someone infirm or elderly, someone inconvenient – but with something in your way.
Mr. Tardhole McAsshat, I want you to know this: you’re an asshole. The worst kind of asshole, the kind who causes me to lose faith with humanity, the kind who makes me feel that we are, we humans, irredeemable. I hate you for making me so angry on such a beautiful morning.
I would hope that your balls shrivel up in your pressed cotton boxers and rot. I could hope that, but I won’t. What I do hope is this: that one day, you are pushing a stroller, or a walker, or are navigating the city in a wheelchair, and you come face to face to someone just like you. And I hope that, in that moment, you recognize you, and that you shrivel a little inside at the expectation of being shoved or stepped over. And then, I hope, that person stops, and steps aside, and shows you what human beings should be like. Can be like.