Last week on my way home from work, trouble came looking for me in the form of a bus bully. I could have ignored it, but the fighter in me protested: “Nope, we will NOT be backing down today.”
When I boarded the bus, it was standing room only. I parked myself near a pole, turned up Spotify and tried to decompress from work. Whereas I could have gotten lobotomized and still done my old job, my new job keeps me on my toes: literally and figuratively. By the end of most days, I’m spent. That day had been particularly exhausting.
A minute into my bus ride, the girl (she was maybe in her early 20s) sitting in front of me said to her friend, seated behind me, “Hoes be having they p-ssy all in my face and shit.”
Say what now?
Another woman (not a man) can call me a bitch and I won’t care. Dirt off my shoulder. But, I do not accept “ho” or “hoe.” Perhaps to me the word “ho” is like the word “chicken” is to Marty McFly. [“Nobody.calls me.a HO!”]. This may seem hypocritical given the post title, but so be it.
I looked up from my phone. Dammit, I just wanted to listen to some music and read.
“Excuuuuse me?” I said with surprise (and ok, maybe some irritation, but still, I was calm).
The girl gave me a stankass look. Or maybe that was just her face. Frozen in stank position ’cause all she does is act stank. “Giiiiirl, I know you ain’t talkin’ to me.”
“First of all, I am not a girl. I am a woman. Second, you will not speak to me that way.”
I always wondered when I would stop referring to myself as a “girl” and start referring to myself as a “woman.” This, apparently, was that moment.
I could see on her stankass stankface that she was taken aback. To her friend she got all huffy and began heaving her giganto-boobs in my direction, neck-rolling, steam coming out of her ears that are probably too through with hearing her stankiness. Her stankface became even stankier as she exclaimed stankily: “Ooh this bitch…blah blah blah…dumb ho…niggas….blah blah..I know she didn’t…more stankface bloviating. I am a stankface who says stankface things.” [Ok, fine, she didn’t say the last two things.]
Now here is where I could have told trouble to take a damn hike.
A woman in a wheelchair needed to board the bus. As it happened, stankface was seated in the wheelchair area.
The bus driver instructed: “Everybody move back, get up! Wheelchair coming!”
Stankface got up with a huff, rolling her eyes and heaving her giant bosom. I taunted her (gleefully?), “Oh look. Now your problems are over and you don’t have to be near me!! Lucky you!”
She stood over me, at least 6 inches on my 5’1′ (and 3/4!) frame and made like she was gonna fight me. Her face became the stankiest I would see it that day. Winner of the stankface-a-thon is YOU!
I didn’t flinch. I know a bully when I see one. I was the smart black kid who got teased for “talking white,” listening to grunge music and caring about school. I was not here for her bullshit.
“I am not scared of you little girl.“ You know how they say someone’s voice was “dripping with disdain?” That was me. I was practically vomiting disdain. Disdain all up and down that bus! Channeling my grandma, my dad, my moms and any other strong people I know who don’t put up with disrespect, I thought to myself, “I am too old and too accomplished to have this stankface little girl talking to me this way and wasting my time over some nonsense.”
Stankface moved closer to her stanky sidekick. She was now standing next to me. She and her friend continued to chitter on, loudly, as though the rest of the bus cared what went on in their stankratch lives, about what an awful person I was. Ho this. Ho that. I could see other riders looking at them askew. Then a detour: “My baby daddy…blah blah…my son…oh yeah, my daughter.” These ratchet bitches have kids? God help those children and our society.
Don’t make a comment about their kids. Don’t even say the word “child!” Don’t say that you feel sorry for their kids. Keep your mouth shut! You are too old to be getting into a fight. You have a real job. Get it together girl.
I could see my criminal future flashing before my eyes, Facebook HuffPost headline reading: Promising black female tech employee (one of 5.75 in the City!) gets in bus fight with stankface ratchet bitch over the word “ho”. Ruins career.
I silenced the devil on my shoulder. Instead, as they tried to antagonize me with their words, I smirked. Bullies hate when you don’t break down and give in to their shenanigans. Oh does it anger them. “Oh hellll no, this bitch is laughing,” stankface grumbled indignantly. Yep, this bitch is laughing, and you and your heaving bosom of all that is ratchet and your stankface are getting more upset and I don’t give a f-.
Another woman, seated with her child, pulled the cord to get off the bus. She announced loudly, directing her attention to the stankcrew: “I am getting off the bus with my son. If anybody gets in my way….”
What in thee hell is with people on this bus? This bus line can be particularly trying. There always seems to be someone yelling, someone with an attitude, someone angry at the world, someone smelly, someone talking to themselves, some dude trying to make eyes at you with a yellow-toothed smile. Sometimes, it’s overstimulating.
The woman and the toddler got off the bus just fine. No incidents. A few senior citizens boarded the bus at the same time. Stankface’s friend continued sitting her rathet ass in one of the seats reserved for the elderly. Might I remind you that I said the bus was standing room only? And stankfacefriend didn’t move? No respect.
As it turned out, the stankcrew had another friend on the bus. He was a real charmer. “Maaaan, them Oakland cops ain’t got nothin’ on me. I know how to work them!” Oh how lovely. Stankface and stank-less-face nodded in appreciation at his skill in avoiding the cops.
Finally, after what seemed an interminable amount of time, we arrived at my stop.
There were so many things I wanted to say to those girls as I disembarked. “Get an education. Go to an etiquette class. Control your heaving bosom! Unstank your face! You’re feeding into negative stereotypes. Stop throwing around the word ‘nigga’.” I resisted uttering these things as well as the urge to grin widely and say “Toodle-fucking-loo ratchet bitches!”
Instead, I got off the bus and thought about all the ways I could have behaved better. Stankface reminded me of bullies I’d dealt with when I was younger. It was as though my younger self took over, seeking vindication. Stankface touched a nerve, one that raise my self-defenses. I am not proud of how I allowed myself to be drawn into the madness. I am not proud of my judginess. I misbehaved. Try as I may and wish as I might, I am still not perfect.
*I am trying really hard to stop referring to some women as bitches. But, sometimes a bitch is a bitch is a bitch. Don’t come after me mega-feminists, I know.
- Bullying: What to do about it (jacksonville.com)
- Motivation Mondays: Recognizing and Surviving The Adult Bully (moveintoaction.com)