Enter Subway Pet Peeve Number One: Eating or drinking on the subway when you are standing above someone.
I am seated reading a book on my Tab when I smell coffee. A woman is standing in front of me sipping from a paper cup. Not a thermos, a paper cup; a large paper cup. I can clearly see the torn tab opening when moves the cup from her lips. I can tell by the angle in which she holds it while sipping, it is still a relatively full cup.
“Good Morning.” I smile, garnering her attention and she returns my greeting.
“I’m asking, could you not do that please?” I ask pointing to the cup.
“Not do what? Drink my coffee?”
“Yes. Could you not do that please?”
“This is a crowded train during rush hour. You could be jostled at any moment that results in spillage and I do not want me or my electronics to get wet.”
“There’s no law that says I can’t drink coffee on the train.”
“You are correct, there is no explicit law denying anyone the right to eat and drink on the subway. However, it is considered common courtesy to refrain from doing so when seated, it is especially so if you are standing above someone.”
“I’m not going to spill anything.”
“Not intentionally, I hope, but the word accident exists for a reason. However profusely stated and honestly felt, “I’m sorry” does not negate any potential damage done. It especially does negate the callousness of your actions when I am asking you nicely, not to. If you don’t want to stop, can I then ask you to stand elsewhere? Maybe other passengers are not as bothered by it as I.”
From the looks of my fellow passengers seated on either side of me, it was clear they would not be indifferent to her rudeness either and she knew it.
“Oh please. Fuck you.”
I look up to the through the subway car roof to the heavens above and mentally ask the Powers-that-Be why they chose a day when I am in a dress and heels, in other words in no way dressed for a potential fight, to test me so.
“Not a problem.”
I do not say anything else to her knowing she will be off the train before I will. I simply hoped she does not spill anything on me in the interim. The best I can do is put my Tab and cellphone out of harm’s way. Seeing my house keys in a side pocket, I take them out and hold them in my fist. I think better of it and put them away, carefully placing my bag on the floor between my feet. I know she saw what I did and moved the cup from her face. There is slight mumbling around us by those witnessing the exchange, none of it in her favor, but nothing else. All the while she is standing there holding the coffee in her hand, not sipping it, but with the open notch it’s still a potential for spillage.
The train reaches her stop and she turns to leave, giving me the side eye over her shoulder as she does. Bitch is stated in her eyes, if not spoken with her mouth. A guy seated across, but closer to the door, from me wakes up with a start. He looks around dazed for a split second and must have realized he either missed his stop or was about to when he stood up quickly. He stood right into the hand holding the coffee that was on its way to her lips again for a defiant sip as she glared at me.
Want to guess what happened next?
Yup, the guy accidentally knocks the coffee into her, causing it to spill on her blouse and his elbow that made contact before she can right it. The man apologizes profusely, but he is also intent on getting off the train. She has moved enough away that none of it drips on me. A woman sitting to my left, who witnessed the exchange between the woman and I snorts a heartfelt “Good for her!”. Because this is morning rush hour there is confusion at the door as people are rushing to get in and out while avoiding the coffee spill on the floor. Another woman somehow stepped right in it and nearly slipped, grabbing the handhold just in time. Ms. Coffee immediately turns around, clearly about to apologize, when the woman, cuts her off.
“”The word accident exists for a reason.” Next time, don’t drink the damn coffee. Now get out of the way!” The woman who nearly fell snarls at Ms. Coffee, pushing past her evidently pissed.
I know it is coming, so I wait for it. Sure enough Ms. Coffee shoots me one last look. I salute her with the bird as she hustles to get off the train before the door closes. Two men in suits who entered from a different door and witnessed only the last minute or so of the events, look around as they make their way in.
I am reaching for my bag to get my iPod when the woman next to me bursts out laughing, making me look up.
“What was that all commotion at the other door about?” One suit asks his friend while sipping a cup of coffee. In a paper cup.
I groan as the woman laughs harder and the two suits look on confused.
“Are you fucking kidding me?!”
Update: Guess who I saw on the train this morning? Yup, Ms. Coffee herself, sans coffee this time. She was not standing near me, but we saw each other.
Come see how others are slicing up their days…
Slice of Life Writing Challenge | Two Writing Teachers
I was thinking while I was reading this, “I would never say anything!” Even if I felt the exact way you did, even if I thought the coffee-holder was rude or would spill… I would never actually open my mouth. I’m not shy with my opinions around people I know, but with strangers I am. I admire your boldness.
Some say boldness, some say bitchiness it’s all in the eye of …
Talk about poetic justice. It is a shame that so many people feel the way Ms. Coffee feels…I am all that matters. Good for you for speaking up. Glad you and your electronics stayed coffee free.
Thanks Arjeha. A lot of us have our self-centered moments from time-to-time, but most of us have the grace to back down when we get called-out on it. I can’t lie, I fully gave in the the schadenfreude when karma struck.