When I got on the Path Train this morning, I saw -- miracle of miracles -- an empty seat between two riders. Naturally, since there was no one else competing for the seat, I went to take it.
I sat down as I usually do when it's a middle seat: I positioned my butt on the edge of the seat and gingerly slid back as far as I could without infringing too much on the space of the riders beside me, keeping my legs locked and my shoulders squeezed in as close as possible. It was a tight fit, but this didn't bother me since it was an early morning commuter train to WTC, and seat real estate is a pretty hot commodity at this time.
A few seconds after I sat down, though, I noticed something odd happening. The 40-year-old man wearing sweats next to me was clearly upset about something, muttering very animatedly under his breath. I took no notice (weird people on a train -- not really a novelty). That is until he got up out of his seat and glared at me.
It was then that I realized he was muttering about me. "Fat b*tch" I heard him say over and over again under his breath, shaking his head at me in disgust.
He kept glaring at me, and then at the seat he had just vacated, and then back at me again. He offered his seat to a much slimmer woman, but he didn't seem pleased about his act of chivalry one bit.
I admit this whole experience caught me off-guard. Certainly, I've had people make comments about my weight before. It's something I've been struggling with since I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and Hashimoto Disease as a teenager and put on a lot of extra pounds.
But I'm not in high school anymore, and neither is he. This is the real world, with real adults -- I thought we were past all this.
Did it really bother this man that much that we were touching legs on the train? Was it the audacity of this "fat b*tch" to think she could fit in the space? Or was it that she felt she had the right to sit down when clearly, a little standing could do her some good?
I suppose I understand that when some people look at me, all they see is fat. But what I don't understand is why they hate me for it.
Sure, "fat b*tches" can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, but that doesn't mean we eat the whole damn thing in one sitting.
Many of us are intelligent, capable women, and our worth is not summed up by how fat we may appear to be. We get sh*t done, just like you.
As soon as I exited the train, I made a beeline for my building, rode the elevator up to the 29th floor and sat down at my desk, all the while ready to burst into tears. But before I let my emotions get the best of me, I decided to jot the whole experience down and how it made me feel so I could see just how silly the whole thing was.
And now I feel so empowered I want to share this story with you. I'm not ashamed or embarrassed to tell it because maybe, just maybe, you'll think of this the next time something goes wrong on the way to work and you'll know that it really doesn't matter, it's not necessarily your fault, and it's ok to move on with your day.
Yes, when I got on the train this morning, I was in a chipper -- albeit sleepy -- mood, and the grumpy man next to me initially took that away from me. Why, though? Why should his hang-ups about women with some extra meat on their bones and personal space bother me so much?
My takeaway from this whole experience is that when other people are putting out some seriously bad vibes, it really has nothing to do with you -- their bad attitude is their own problem, and I'm not going let that negativity affect the rest of my day.