Friday, June 25, 2010

A Confession

I was not going to tell this story, but, the nagging sense of guilt is forcing my keyboard:

In regards to my business trip on Wednesday, the 8:10 AM train was permanently delayed so there was a mad rush to jump on the Acela (Express) train at 9:00. I would still have time to get into Philly, rent a car and drive to my 11:00 appointment, but it would be cutting it very close (as it was, I pulled into the parking lot of my client at 10:55 AM!). Myself, and dozens others scrambled to get onto the Amtrak queue to exchange our tickets for the Acela (being a more expensive trip we were forced to exchange our tickets and pay the
difference). Amtrak is a perennial money loser propped up only by the daily travelers (mostly business people) going to meetings at points between Boston, New York, Philly and Washington, DC. Therefore, all those in line were frantic about missing meetings when the 8:10 went out of service. Visiting Grandma in Baltimore 2 hours later than expected is not cause for eruption at the glacial pace of the Amtrak ticketing staff, missing a meeting worth millions of dollars is. The snarls of everyone in front and behind me as we impatiently waited to get on the next train spoke many stories. And then, I lost my cool and said something shameful.

The meeting in Philly was months in the making, we just submitted a Request for Proposal to their ad agency, and we have never been able to carry this particular business in the past. The importance of this meeting was huge, and missing it was not an option. My story was replicated amongst my new cohorts in similar circumstances in line - everyone had an important meeting to get to. Group anger makes fast friends. Then a Red Cap, carrying luggage, brings a cartoonishly obese businessman to the front of the line. With the clock ticking down to departure - minutes away - and the threat of seats being sold out an imminent probability, the queue (men and women alike) exploded the second this hugely rotund man cut the line and went up to the window. Everyone started shouting and screaming at him, and I too lost my cool, I am ashamed to say, and I am disgusted to say that as I joined the chorus screaming at this man, I called him "tubby." Who am I to criticize anyone's weight, ever? It was a short burst of immature anger, and infantile name calling. Although my fellow queue mates called him vile curse words with angry spittle coming out of their mouths, I went for the jugular, and I acted like a complete jackass. It seems attacking someone's weight is the last acceptable point of difference to point out in polite society, and it is ridiculously, sadly wrong.

Most of my life I felt terrible for those who were overweight, and incensed when anyone would make fun of them, but there I was in a moment of unjustified rage going against what I believe. If I called him a Bastard, or a M'ther F%$&@ (like my queue mates) I would have long since forgotten it, but I didn't. I made fun of the way he looked, and I still feel terrible. Not to mention, it was really the Red Cap's fault!

Getting my just deserts, the woman in front of me got the very last coach ticket on the train, and I was forced to fork over another $145 for a first class seat. First class on Amtrak is a far cry from first class on Virgin Atlantic, or even first class on a Greyhound bus! In fact, it is exactly like riding coach, but you get a free breakfast fruit plate - 3 strawberries, 6 damaged grapes, and a tiny slice of orange. Definitely worth the
extra money, and trouble, and shame of name calling.

5 comments:

Vegan Epicurean said...

I am going to try to put a positive spin on this situation.

I agree with you that my initial reaction would be to be ashamed of myself. However, maybe your words got through to the man and will prompt some positive healthy changes in his life. *fingers crossed*

Sorry you have had a rough week. Enjoy your time in the city this weekend. The shore does sound like it is full of temptations. ;-)

have a great weekend,
Ali

AW said...

Well, it seems that proverbial karma took a bite out of you. I think I would have rather heard you yelling, "How bout you become a nutrarian, pal?!?!" at him. I've actually found that, since I switched to ETL, I have to watch my judgmental inner dialogue. There's no verve quite like that of the born-again health enthusiast. When I started reading your post, I was waiting for you to say you drove through a fast food restaurant for a morning Egg McMuffin!

Terrence said...

Ali - thanks! Always filled with postive words.

AW - thank you. It was not even judgemental, it was a societal, deep rooted, knee jerk reaction of name calling.

blessedmama said...

Terrence, one of the things that I like about your blog and what makes me keep coming back is your brutal honesty...about yourself. I feel badly for that man, too, b/c he didn't need to hear the name you called him or the ones everyone else called him. Who knows why he was brought up front? But, you can't change that. All you can do is look forward and continue to be the best person you can, and b/c you face yourself head on like this, you will be the best. :-)

Terrence said...

blessedmama - thanks so much.