Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Baiting a Racist on the MBTA
This happened a week or three ago, but I never got around to writing it down. I was riding the train to work in the morning. It was crowded, with people packed close. Among the fresh surge of new commuters cramming on at Wollaston was a man with a very expensive suit. His hair was slicked back with so much grease he could have wrung it out to lube a car. He also had what may have been the single worst spray-on tan in history. The man was so orange cast members of Jersey Shore would tell him to lay off the fake tans. Willy Wonka would mistake him for one of his employees, and then comment "Wait, no, that's a traffic cone." Orange Man also had a tablet, which was proudly displaying a white supremacist web site. At first I thought nothing of it. People read strange things on the "T" and he might have been a lawyer doing research on a civil rights case for all I knew. Then I noticed the death-glare he was giving an African-American woman a couple feet away, facing the other direction. The look on his face reminded me of a quote from Babylon 5, where one alien commented that another species hated his so much that their hate could form a white hot-ball and incinerate his home world. That's the look Orange Man was giving the African-American woman, a death glare that could set a planet ablaze. I wasn't the only one who noticed it. A brunette woman somewhere in her early 30's looked him over. She whipped out her smartphone and positioned herself so he could see the screen. She was smirking as she looked at whatever it was she was reading. Soon Orange Man noticed too, and he glared at her phone, slowly turning an inhuman purple under the orange. It wasn't a shade I ever thought I'd see on a human face. He looked like some sort of monstrous alien that had died and succumbed decay. I wondered if his head was about to explode. He stormed out at the next stop, pushing his way past several people. As he jostled past the woman with the smart phone I got a glimpse of what had been on her screen. It was a blond woman with pale skin, her mouth stretched wide around a dark, tube-shaped object. I wanted to laugh, to give her a high-five, but the African-American woman who had been the subject of the death-glare was oblivious to what had happened, and I decided it was best to let the matter drop. I noticed Orange Man standing on the platform as we left. I wondered if he was lost, or just waiting for the next train. I've repeated this account to a few friends, and one of them asked me if it was possible the woman with the smartphone had been looking at pictures of herself. I doubt it, in part because of the hair color change, but I can't be sure. Besides, it was only a glimpse, and a good portion of the blond's face was obscured by what was in her mouth.