I was reading "Eat, Pray, Love" because I'm not the type to get "carsick" (or "bus-sick," as it were) and because I feel a strange resonation with Elizabeth Gilbert, the book's author. She could be me in a few years, though I don't know whether that's a good thing or not. I'm not done with the book quite yet, but the interesting thoughts that have crossed my mind while reading the book are not the subject of this entry.
As the bus neared the avenues, an older man in the single seat in front of mine saw the back door across from us open at a stop. He chucked a Coke bottle out and then turned back to face the front.
I was disgusted. To the point of wanting to throw up disgusted, which is a pretty severe reaction for someone who's just witnessed littering. It shouldn't such a big deal, but I was mad. I shot a disgusted look at the guy, who didn't see me, of course, but the girl across from me, an African-American girl with a pretty headscarf, a hoodie that didn't match, and an ever-present yellow lighter, did. Neither of us said anything, not to the man, not to anyone.
I couldn't concentrate on the book anymore because I felt this rage, this fire in me. But I kept trying to temper it down with questions like "Why do you care?" and "Why is it a big deal?" Some people litter on the bus, and frankly trash could be a lot worse than a Coke bottle. The guy could have hung onto it, could have tossed it out when he got off the bus, or he could have dropped it on the bus and let it roll around hitting people's feet and get caught behind the doors.
I contemplated throwing trash on him, but I didn't have any. I somehow managed to lose my transfer between the allergist's and the hotel, and the other transfer I intend to keep until it's expired--just in case. Besides, a transfer isn't really "trashy" enough to teach a litterbug a lesson. I needed some expired chop suey or something, but that would be pushing it, right?
I thought about just calling him a pig as I walked out of the bus, but what if the guy was really some violent Mafia felon (I blame the Mafia train of thought on the book, because I had just finished reading the final portion about Italy and Sicily and the cheap concrete filled with bones of people who displeased the Mafia)? I thought about saying it in another language, but my stop was coming up and the word for "pig" in Japanese escaped me.
So I got off the bus without saying or doing anything, and I felt wretched as a result. What kind of world is it that we live in where we can just throw things away like they're nothing, like the Earth is nothing and we don't even expend a little bit of effort to do the right thing, like "recycle," as if we're really making SOME impact? I try and tell myself even a little bit helps, that even an individual can start something, but I bit my lip and kept my mouth shut because sometimes you can't make an example out of others without making an example of yourself first--and not in a good way.
Did I miss out on a chance to teach someone a lesson, or is it even my place? I did make eye contact with that guy as I got off the bus. Turns out he wasn't some ferocious Mafia guy, just an old Asian guy with flip-flops and crusty white feet. I wonder if he saw the exhaustion in my own eyes, the "sick of the world/sick of you" attitude I felt at that moment, because I'd already swallowed the disgust and anger and decided it wasn't worth it. He looked tired too, or maybe just ambivalent, uncaring, apart from the world. Not his problem.
Thinking about it makes me angry again, but like a wave, it recedes away into exhaustion. I can't change people: they have to want to change, they have to be provoked into desiring to change. Can I be a provocateur? Maybe, but only if I stop fearing the consequences. And maybe opening my big mouth, even if it's to reprimand someone "politely" ("Excuse me, but you could have thrown that in a trash can." / "So? What am I going to do about it now?") or to dare to insult a stranger, even if it's in a foreign language, or to just GLARE at someone, hoping that my anger is clear will get me in big trouble one day, but you don't know if you don't try, right? And I'll keep being angry at the world, at others, and most of all, myself, if I don't even TRY to make a difference, small as it is.
Is it weird, wanting to be an example, standing up for what I believe is right? Shouldn't it come naturally, for the things I care about most? It's not like recycling is my big champion cause, but I've just grown up with the habit that you don't toss Coke bottles out of the back doors of buses onto the street.
All I'm left with is a sigh. I don't know what to do with myself, let alone others who piss me off.