The greatest thing about talking to strangers is that you can be anyone that you want to be. You can give them a fake name, make up a story about your life, and pretend to have a completely different personality. If you’re taking the train or a subway or even a cab, you’ll probably never see those people again in your life, so it doesn’t really matter what you tell them. They probably won’t remember anyway. But what happens when you tell a lie that you can’t possibly back up? What happens when you cross the line from simply giving a fake name into being completely unbelievable? Usually – like this woman’s case – extreme embarrassment.
I’m on the subway during rush hour. Arriving at a station, I see a little girl with a bandaged leg and a crutch getting in the car with her mother. Since there are no seats available, she stays up. A few seconds later, a young man dressed like a thug on a seat behind them calls to the mother.
“Ma’am, take my seat for your child.” He says, smiling, and standing out of the way to give them room to maneuver with the crutches through the tight isle.
“Oh, thank you!” The mother says, relief clear on her face. Her daughter was looking exhausted by this point and there was no telling how far they had walked before they made it to the car.
As soon as the young man gets up, however, a middle-aged lady in a business suit jumps into his seat without saying a word.
“Ma’am, I gave up my seat for that little girl, not to you.” He gets her attention, but she doesn’t seem to care about what he’s just said and remains seated.
“You should’ve said so.” She shrugged her shoulders and didn’t budge from the spot, but the man isn’t backing down. He’s starting to get visibly agitated by her flippant attitude.
“You were right in front of me and clearly heard me. Besides, it’s obvious this girl needs a seat more than you.” He said, gesturing to her crutches. The little girl isn’t sure where to go and her mother grabs a hold of her arm when the car takes a bumpy turn.
The woman became angry and snapped at the man.“What’s your point?!” She demanded, finally making eye contact with him.
“My point is that you’re rude and impolite.” He says, crossing his arms.
She still doesn’t stand up, but she looks like she wants to. “Who the hell do you think you are to talk to me like that?! Do you know WHO I am?!” She demands. It’s obviously some kind of coping mechanism. She’s turning red at this point. The rest of us in the car just stare at the spectacle in awkward silence.
“I think I am someone much more polite and probably better educated than you. Who you are? I frankly don’t care. You need to get out of that seat.”
By now, we’re all really confused as to why she hasn’t gotten up yet. Any sane person would have stopped the ridiculous argument long before now. And then we witness one of the greatest comebacks to ever have happened on a subway car…
She huffs and crosses her arms, sitting back in the chair, upset that no one ‘recognized’ her. “My husband owns the biggest bank in this city! I’m infinitely much richer and more powerful than you! I’m not moving out of this seat.”
The man smiles the biggest smile I have ever seen on a human being. “I’m sorry, you’re so “powerful and rich…” that you take the subway to go home?”
She is stunned and looks like she’s just been struck by lightning. She sheepishly leaves the car at the next station. The young man then turns to the girl and her mother, who are literally speechless.
“Sorry for that. There’s your seat!”
There wasn’t a standing ovation, but that has got to be the best ride on the subway that I have ever taken in my life.
Anyone else probably would have let this woman have her way in order not to start a fight. I’m not sure how the girl’s mother didn’t say anything. Maybe the girl didn’t want to start anything…but this guy just wouldn’t let it go. And I’m glad he didn’t! This entire debacle made for an excellent story! The lesson here? “Don’t be an inconsiderate jerk.” Probably.
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