Mar 17, 2011

Argument on the train

Funny thing happened on the train today. A guy, white, and horizontally challenged, sat a few seats in front of me. He had my back to me and was talking with the person next to him, and I saw later that it was a Chinese university student. I couldn't see who he was talking to, so I assumed it was to he's friend. He was saying something about "I love China and Chinese" which is what got my attention in the first place.

The seat in front of him was facing him, and a middle age Chinese woman in the seat behind that was dozing with her head  and arms on the back of the seat. Another middle aged woman came up the stairs, dressed much more stylishly, and she moves to wake up the dozing woman so she can turn the seat around and sit there. The man said to her, fairly loudly, "Let the woman sleep, let her sleep, don't wake her up." The second woman looked at him like he was deranged and woke the first woman up anyway. The seat was turned around and the second woman sat with her back to the man.

Now the man wasn't happy about that. He started saying things like: this woman worked hard and you won't even let her sleep, you can't wake her just to sit there etc. The second Chinese woman turned back and said with a Chinese accent, "Bastard, bastard." The man then repeatedly said, "What, what?!" I can't tell if he really didn't understand or if he was trying to intimidate. The woman kept repeating bastard. And here's where it got ugly. The man stood up and yelled at the woman, "You're the sort of human garbage we don't tolerate here in Australia! Take your **** **** ass back to (couldn't understand him here)"

The woman said, first in Chinese and then in English, "He's drunk, he's drunk." making gestures in front of her face implying that he's breath smells like alcohol or his face was red. She was saying this to the woman she woke up and the uni student, and they both nodded. The man got really mad, so he stuck his face right in front of the woman's and yelled, "Do you know who I am?" He was standing up, and leaning over the woman and put his face right in front of her face. That must have been so bad for the woman.

The woman hit his face several times, trying to get him away, but he just kept right it in front of her face and kept yelling "You wanna do that again? You wanna do that one more time? Do you know who I am?" And the woman hit his face again, and again, and again. I think he thought by saying that and bearing down at her and being so in her personal space that she'll get intimidated. He never did say who he was. When she just kept hitting him and you could hear him get more uncertain with every repetition of "you wanna do that again?"

Eventually he had enough and sat back down, and it was obvious now that he really was drunk. The second woman was saying in Chinese that he was crazy. The man sat for a while, and then, maybe feeling like sitting in silence feels like admitting defeat, tried to make conversation with two Indian/African guys on the other side of the walkway. He asked where they're getting off, and they nodded awkwardly a few times and said Yagoona after some prodding. Then he asked, where are you going after that? The two guys just kept nodding and smiling and wouldn't answer him any more. Before he got off the train he insisted on shaking hands (guy style where their forearms overlap) and the two guys were noticeable reluctant, smiling awkwardly at him, nodding and not saying a word.

After he got off the train the atmosphere of the whole carriage changed completely. It was now that he's gone everyone let out that breath they've been holding. The general feeling I got from the audience was that he was the clown. The second woman began a conversation with the Chinese uni student and the first woman, who turned to sit next to the second woman somewhere in the chaos, she was saying something about the man and the other two was nodding in agreement. Ironically, when I got off the train the two women were chatting like they're known each other for ten years.

Isn't it funny how the position of power changed. I thought the woman would have backed down after the man stood over her like that. And he was big. I thought she would have backed down when he kept yelling "you wanna do that one more time?". But she looked like the sort of woman that would keep hitting him and still say he's crazy and drunk to his face afterwards.

It's just that after he got off I thought, 'how did this happen?' It's a complete reversal of what I expected. The woman woke the other woman up anyway, she talked back to him, she hit his face to get him away, and the woman she was supposed to have inconvenienced chatted with her afterwards like they're best friends!

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