i got on the train tonight headed home after a subcommittee meeting for our events committee. i wasn’t really thinking about much other than getting home. however, the minute i stepped on the train, i knew something out of the ordinary was going on. there was a man, who was yelling obscenities and was obviously impaired in some way. maybe more than one way. i was guessing he was both drunk and mentally disabled in some way. but he was quite disturbing. being obscene and offensive to a woman — being mad that she didn’t like black people and screaming “fuck you” and all sorts of other random stuff interspersed with strange sounds.
mostly, people ignored him. some people had smiles on their faces — probably because they were uncomfortable and didn’t know what else to do. i always feel a sort of ache in my soul for those people, because no matter how terribly offensive or loud they are, i know that they are definitely acting on impulses or for reasons beyond their control. at one point, a man exited the train and handed the man a halloween-sized portion of candy. i don’t know if they had had an earlier interaction on the train, but he said, “here’s the candy you asked about. now behave yourself or they’ll have to ask you to leave the train.” the man immediately stopped his previous ranting and got teary and told the candy giver that he loved him.
not too long after, the woman he had been yelling at got up and moved to another seat on the train. he resumed talking to various people and carrying on. at some point, he got up and moved to face the woman again. he wasn’t as angry as before, but wouldn’t stop talking to her, now telling her how pretty she was over and over again. she just had her head sort of buried in the corner; you could tell she just was hoping the man would go away.
all of a sudden, a guy got up and told the man that he was making the woman uncomfortable. that alone, i thought was both noteworthy and great. you hardly ever see guys standing up for women or publicly acknowledging that other guys are being uncool. but then the guy went further. he continued to talk to the man. even when the man was terribly hard to understand, he would sometimes ask him to repeat himself, and continued to have a conversation with the man until the first man got off the train.
i got teary eyed. it was touching that the guy just took the time to see the man. to just see him as a human. i don’t know that i had ever seen that sort of display before. he eventually started to lose his patience a little more, but he remained calm the whole time. we ended getting off at the same stop, and i knew i had to say something to him. as we walked out of the train station and were just about to part, i touched him lightly on the back. he turned to me and i just said, “you did that man a great kindness.” he heard what i said, understood me and just said, “thank you.”
i was so curious to know if he was a loyola student or identified as a christian or what. but regardless, it was a really good thing to see. i always need to remember that “what you do to the least of them, you do to me (matthew 25:40).” no matter how i identify spiritually, i can never go wrong with this attitude.