Thanksgiving 2008, Tom and I were supposed to go spend the week in Virginia with my dad. Plans were – somewhat – changed at the last minute when Tom got a promotion. The kids and I still wanted to go, so my dad paid for round trip tickets on the Amway Train. (Yes, I know it’s actually Amtrack, it’s malapropism – deal with it.)
Tom put us on the train in Atlanta where we traveled all night and arrived in Fredericksburg around 8:30am. For the most part, the boys slept. I dozed some, but not real soundly. Mostly I read.
Then the Monday after Thanksgiving, we came home – still traveling all night – and arrived in Atlanta at around 8:30am on Tuesday morning.
On the return trip, when our seats were assigned to us, they had me in a seat behind the boys and not next to them – which I didn’t like – so we leaned the seats back and all three sat in the seats where the boys were assigned.
There was only one other person in any of the seats directly around us, but it was clear the other seats were occupied. The occupants just happened to be elsewhere on the train.
Well into the evening, or morning rather, around 3am, two of the four occupants, two black women, returned. Stating the race of someone when telling a story isn’t something I usually do, because 9 out of 10 times it’s inconsequential. This time, however, the fact that they were black is pertinent. Of all the people in the train car we were in, we were 3 of the 7 people who weren’t black.
So anyway, they returned to the train car. They reeked of alcohol and couldn’t walk without stumbling or running into someone or something. Their seats were across from where the boys and I were sitting.
Apparently, alcohol is served on the train in the snack car.
I did not know this.
When they got to their seats, they didn’t sit down. One of the ladies decided to stand in the aisle and lean on the seat she was assigned. Then they proceeded to do what every person who gets stupid drunk does. They started talking smack. Mostly it was the lady in the aisle smack talking.
Smack talk that was filled with language so colorful it hurt my ears.
Smack talking, filled with colorful language, in front of my kids and LOUD. The boys were asleep, but they could have woken at any time. Especially with how loud the lady was…
A couple times, a person or two from the back of the car yelled out for them to sit down and shut up. This only got the one lady to become louder and and then express her disgust with a fellow black person trying to shut her up. From there, she decided to give a speech educating everyone within earshot on all the wonderful things Obama was going to do for her… As if the foul language wasn’t enough to make me sick…
In times past, it’s been pointed out to me that when I want to speak up about something – but don’t or can’t – for whatever reason, I get fidgety. More so than usual. Most of the time it’s my leg. It bounces – fast. Tom can always tell when I’ve had enough and don’t plan on keeping quiet any longer. When I get like that, he puts his hand on my leg and gives it a very firm squeeze. Which, it usually works. It sort of ‘grounds’ me. However… Tom wasn’t with me.
So, I was fidgety. Very fidgety and getting more so as she went on.
With every foul word that came out of her mouth, I winced and my body physically contracted. I’d glance over at the boys every once in awhile to make sure they were still asleep.
How they slept through that I’ll never know…
I’d considered getting up and finding a conductor, but if I did I’d have to leave the boys or have to wake them up and take them with me. I was just sort of stuck. So, there I sat, praying she’d shut up soon and go to sleep, still wincing with each colorful word expelled from her mouth.
She noticed my wincing and discomfort.
She looked down at me and said “You got a problem?”
I was sitting there, already having a hard time keeping my mouth shut. It was extremely hard for me to begin with. Her asking me if I had a problem didn’t help.
The *only* reason I hadn’t said anything up to that point was because the boys and I were alone. Plus, you never know what a drunk is going to do. I didn’t want to risk anyone getting violent.
She’s still looking at me and says “Well, do you?”
I looked up at her and said “Yeah, I do. I have a problem with your mouth, the words coming out of it and the fact it won’t shut up.”
She said “Oh, you don’t like the bad language? Your babies are asleep. They can’t hear me.”
Of course, I’ve cleaned up what she said. It was more like “Oh, you don’t ******** like the bad ******* language? Your babies are asleep. ******. They can’t ***** hear me.”
I said “No, but I can.”
“So.” she replied “Why does it ******* matter to you? ******* you.”
And then I’ll never forget what she said next.
She said “I bet you voted for McCain. You voted against Obama. Didn’t you?”
I said “What difference does it make who I voted for? You, your extreme foul mouth and disrespect for those around you has nothing to do with the election. I have a problem with you and your mouth. I could not care less about who voted for or against whomever. This is about you using filthy language in front of me and my children and how you need to stop.”
“Yeah. You voted for McCain. Not Obama. There’s not a ********** thing wrong with my saying ******** or ********. You can either go find a ******** conductor or you ********* need to get the ******** over it.”
So, that was pretty much all I was going to put up with from her and her mouth. I had to make a decision. Wake and take the kids, or let them sleep? I decided they’d be okay – sleeping, trusting that someone would intervene should she or anyone try and hurt the kids. At this point, waking them would probably scare them.
I went down 5 train cars before I found a conductor. I told him what was going on – as I turned to go back to the boys because I didn’t want to be gone any longer than I had to be.
He got up, put his uniform coat on, and followed me.
I got to my seat, said “This is the lady…” while pointing her out.
The conductor made her and her friend get their stuff and escorted them off the train.
As they left, every person in that train car started clapping.
That made her more mad – and she threatened me. Which, was stupid because after that she had a permanent chaperone until she was off the train.
When we arrived in ATL I had a couple people thank me for getting the conductor because they were tired of listening to her smack talk too.
But, to this day I have yet to figure out how if you don’t like foul language it means you voted against Obama… 😉