I got on the #8 yesterday at about 5.10pm at Denny and Dexter just like I normally do 5 days a week. That bus is notorious for filling up and having to leave people behind at stops along Denny before hitting Capitol Hill and I was happy to snag one of the last seats on the bus, that parallel seat that faces the backdoor on the smaller buses. As soon as I take my seat I hear a masculine voice grumble something about gentlemen and seats. A moment later, the voice makes another louder comment and I realize it's coming from this tall, rangy old guy stanging in the back door well and glaring at all the men sitting down. He's probably about 60, lean and leathery and wearing a very nice leather Harley Davidson jacket. There's a clear outline of a Skoal can in his left rear pocket. We get to the next stop at Denny and Westlake and more people get on and more "ladies" are required to stand while the gentlemen remain seated and the Outraged Old Cowboy really starts going off: "Gawdamned sons of bitches won't give up their seats for a lady!", "What's the fuckin' world coming to when motherfuckers won't stand for a lady?" "It fuckin' makes me sick to see what the world is coming to!" and more of that ilk.
By now, I'm really irritated at this old shithead and glaring at him. He notices and immediately says to me, "Yeah, I'm talking to you!" And I responded with "Give it a rest!", so of course he goes off on me and the everyone on the bus immediately inches away, gasps or rolls their eyes. We bitch back and forth at each other and I ask him, "How gentlemanly is it to curse and say sonofabitch and motherfucker in front of ladies?", and he doesn't have much to say about that and begins threatening to "get off this motherfucking bus" and I reply, "That's a good idea." By the time we got to Denny and Stewart, the fucker was foaming at the mouth and threatening to pull me off the bus. He screams some more and gets off and I wish him a cheery good-bye and he pops his head back in to glare at me and repeat his threat to pull me off, and I just say, "Go for it, dude" but he declines to beat me to death in public and just stomps off muttering.
After he leaves, everyone breathes a sigh of relief and a few people make comments out loud about the situation and a few people look peeved at me for engaging with the nut but a few people seem admiring that I stood up to his crazy bullshit. After he'd left, I did comment that I'd gladly give up my seat to a pregnant woman or anyone old or disabled and who obviously needs a seat and a few men near me agreed but I have to be honest and say that the whole situation was unpleasant and unnecessary and I SHOULD have kept my mouth shut but sometimes you DO have to speak up. And there IS a tiny part of me that feels guilty about sitting when women are standing; I'm old enough to remember a time when "gentlemen" WERE supposed to give up their seat to a "lady" and I did have an old-fashioned, Midwestern upbringing but I also like to remember that women ARE equal to men which means they should get paid the same for the same job AND have to stand on the bus if there aren't enough seats.
And the whole elitist gentlemen/lady thing has always irritated the shit out of me. Class snobbery in British literature is amusing but in reality, it's just a bunch of reactionary, snobby bullshit. Manners and civility are important and frequently absent from everyday life, but many aspects of Victorian propriety are best left dead and buried.
Meanwhile, I have to worry about yet another Arch Enemy out to do me harm...