Why Are Some People Critical of Others? A letter to a man on a train.

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To the very drunk man I encountered on a train

I had had a wonderful evening at the O2 Arena watching Dynamo, he’s a street magician who performs amazing tricks and illusions and is very entertaining.  The arena had been full of like-minded fans who, I am sure, enjoyed the evening as much as me.  My partner and I left the venue at the same time as everyone else, we drifted along with the crowd as it surged towards the station.  Excited chatter filled the air as fans discussed and relived the sights they had seen.  We all boarded the next underground train that glided swiftly up to the platform. That was when I had the misfortune of sharing a carriage with you.

Obviously you and your friend had not had the same type of evening as us because you were drunk – completely and utterly inebriated.  It was a tight squeeze on the train and most of the other passengers stood chatting quietly  to their companions, apart from you.  Everyone else was capable of standing, either supporting themselves or holding onto one of the hand rails or poles on the train – apart from you.

You were unable to support yourself properly so you leaned against people and knocked into others. You pushed against my back and swayed around.  You then noticed that I had a mole on the back of my neck so decided to comment on it – loudly. You tried to make jokes about it, thinking you were being funny.  No one laughed.  Even your friend seemed to ignore you as each time you said something, there was no response – from anybody.  The more you were ignored, the louder you chundered on.  You made me feel really uncomfortable and pretty embarrassed.  I am sure this wasn’t your intention. I think you were probably completely unaware of any impact your comments might have had.  I felt your grubby finger almost touching my neck as you were pointing at it.  My hair was quite short at the back, because I liked the style. Nobody had ever made comments about this particular mole before, so why did you feel it necessary? Admittedly it is fairly noticeable but if it doesn’t bother me, why the hell should it bother you?

Moles aren’t even that unusual, they occur when cells in the skin grow in a cluster instead of being spread throughout the skin. I don’t understand the massive issue  that  you made of it.  If it hadn’t been for the fact that the carriage was completely jam packed, so full that I could barely move, I would have stepped away from you. I didn’t want to turn round and confront you because a) I didn’t know how you would react and b) you would have probably criticised my face, which would have been even more humiliating.

A pretty, petite, young lady got on the train at the next stop and you decided to make lewd comments about her this time. You really were quite disgusting with the things you were saying and you were incoherently telling your friend what you’d like to do to her. She must have only been about twenty and was demure and unassuming, a vast contrast to you – a raucous, dirty looking, man in his fifties.

I was relieved when you finally got off the train, I expect everyone else was too. Nobody said a single word to you about your behaviour, or the vile content you had been slurring.  I would imagine this was because you may have reacted in a violent way and, anyway, it’s not really a British thing to make a scene is it?

So congratulations on making someone who is quite self-conscious and quiet, feel less confident.  Well done for making a carriage full of cheerful, contented people feel wary and uncomfortable and shame on you for making a young girl on her own probably feel quite unsafe and vulnerable.

After you had disembarked I had wanted to shout at you, to tell you how horrible you were and how disgusted I was with the way you had behaved, but I felt that would have been asking for trouble.

So although my memories of my brilliant evening out were hindered by you and also the fact that my self-confidence suffered a dent that evening, I feel gratitude for the fact that most people aren’t like you and  I also truly hope that you don’t act in that way towards anybody else in the future.

Happily, now I have written to you and explained how you made me feel, I can move on from this and park it as a distant memory – not something that I need to dwell on or take to heart.

From Fiona (one of the people on that train that you treated as an object, not a person with feelings.)


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