Monday, September 24, 2007

Shove Off

I was -- uh, I believe the legal term is assaulted -- Thursday morning on the platform at Union Station.

Don't know if you were on the train. Lately I've been sitting in cars farther back -- they're less crowded, quieter, it's easier to get off, etc. So I haven't seen you in a few weeks.

It was a military guy in Army fatigues. White guy, light brown, blondish hair, not crewcut, normal cut, kind of stocky build. I've seen him get on before, I believe at your stop, but I'm not sure. Either BWI or Odenton, I think, or maybe Halethorpe; I don't know. I don't remember. Anyway, since there aren't that many of them, as you know, one tends to notice them. I suppose they go to the Pentagon.

I had gotten off my car, way at the back of the pack, and started walking forward. I had passed him, way on the other side of the platform -- in other words, nowhere near each other -- way at the back. You know how most people don't like walking on the yellow tread-strip near the edge, so that tends to be the fast lane, so to speak. As I was weaving my way forward, I ended up on the yellow tread, where I don't mind walking (it's actually easier on my foot).

As I'm walking along, suddenly, just when a pillar is to the left of me and the edge of the platform on the right, I feel a body slam. And I do mean body slam. This wasn't a bump. It was a shove. It rocked my body out toward the edge -- thank god there was a train there and thank god I hadn't been standing still -- since I was moving forward, the force of his slam was less than if I had been stationary, in which case I believe he would've knocked me over.

There was no chance this was 1) an accident or 2) he didn't feel it. When it happened, I looked immediately to my left to see him pounding by and I said, "Excuse me!" He ignored me and kept walking. I said again, "Excuse me!" Again no response. So I said, "You asshole."

He stopped dead: "What did you say?"

I said, "You just shoved me. When two people bump into each other, it's polite to say 'excuse me.' I said it; you didn't. And it was clearly your fault."

He comes over, puts his hand on my back -- in what I at first, for a milli-second, thought was a conciliatory gesture, as if he couldn't hear me and was trying to lean in to do so. He never apologized, never acknowledged what he had done, and -- get this -- started pushing me. I mean pushing. It wasn't a conciliatory gesture, he was actually pushing me as we walked.

So I immediately ended my own solicitous explanation to him and stopped and said, "Get your hands off me! Don't touch me!"

Of course everyone around us witnessed the whole thing and heard everything, but nobody stopped.

Then I just kept walking, not looking at him, figuring it was over and he would leave me alone. But he came back over to me (!!!!!!!), didn't touch me, but started complaining to me again -- honestly, I have absolutely no recollection of what he said, I just know his demeanor was threatening, and never did he acknowledge what he had done. So one last time, without looking at him, without breaking stride, I repeated what I had said before about his behavior. He said something else, and I said again, "Asshole."

He hissed in my ear: "That's the second time."

Without a glance, I said, "Third time, I believe," and just kept walking. I have no idea if he went off towards the Metro or stood there or followed me for a while or what. I was shaking, absolutely shaking. I knew we were surrounded by people, plus there were cops everywhere, so I mean what was he gonna do? Clock me?

He probably beat the shit out of somebody else later in the day. Or got into trouble at work, or took it out on someone.

But he clearly targeted me, since he came up from behind, and I repeat that it wasn't a bump, it was a shove. An absolute shove.

I'm going to tell the conductors when I get on the train on Thursday, and describe him to them. And I absolutely will not get off the train anymore until everyone else has gotten off. I will be the last person in the crowd. I don't want anyone coming up behind me ever again, especially not him, as I'm sure to see him on future trains.

If this guy gets on at your station, maybe you've seen him. The whole thing was totally bizarre and scary.