Welcome to “Things I Hate,” a semi-regular installment in which I discuss something that bugs the shit out of me. This week’s recipient of my loathing: passive-aggressiveness.
First things first, allow me to apologize for the ever-increasing gap between posts. (This is where an excuse would normally go, but I don’t have one, so that’s pretty much it. Sorry.)
I was on the subway last week and, as fortune would have it, I found an empty seat on the train. It’s nominally a three-person bench, but if you’re going for comfort, two people is a more viable number. Usually I’m stuck standing from 23rd Street in Manhattan all the way to Myrtle Ave./Broadway in Brooklyn, which is about a 30-minute ride, so needless to say I was pleased with my good fortune. I sit down, headphones in my ears (YES I GOT NEW ONES), and open up my book (“Charlie Wilson’s War,” in case you were curious, which I’m sure you were.) After a few seconds of reading, I decide to pause the excellent music pumping through my headphones so I can better focus on the book. As I read, I notice the train growing more and more crowded, but since the guy to my right isn’t moving over to let anyone else in, I elect to do the same. No sense sacrificing comfort until I’m asked to do so, right?
(I know that sounds kinda dickish, but unless someone elderly or with a disability is trying to sit down, I think I’ve earned the right to have a little comfort. I’m at work and on my feet for about 12.5 hours a day, and I get a seat on the train about once every two weeks. If you think I’m not going to milk that shit for all it’s worth, then you clearly don’t know me very well.)
After a little while, I hear someone muttering the word “asshole”- I don’t think much of it at first, since I assume they’re just talking to themselves. But it persists. “Asshole…fucking dick…asshole.” I start to pay closer attention to the man lobbing these invectives, and it becomes painfully obvious that he’s talking about me. With my headphones in, I continue to stare at my book, but by this point I’m not reading at all- I’m just trying to discern what I could possibly have done to engender such hatred in this man. And then I hear this beauty of a sentence:
“Must be nice to be sitting down on a crowded train, asshole.”
Are you fucking kidding me?! Seriously, who says that?! Keep in mind, this bastion of passive-aggressiveness never asked to sit down OR gave any indication that he would like me to move over so he can sit; moreover, he seemed to be placing the blame solely on me in spite of the fact that the bench was occupied by two people. Look buddy, I don’t know from what fur-lined cave you crawled, but here in the real world, if you want something you open your mouth and fucking ask for it. I’m not a mind reader, and I have neither the time nor the patience to try and anticipate the needs of every other person sharing a subway car with me because they’re too chickenshit to ask for what they want. If he had asked, I would have had no problem whatsoever moving over so he could sit down; hell, even if he hadn’t asked and just started to plop down in the seat, I’d have moved. Honestly man, did you think if you sat down without my express permission I’d slide a blade between your ribs? What really chapped me, though, was his willingness to stand there and swear at me, but only because he assumed I couldn’t hear anything he was saying. If you’re so sure you’ve got the moral high ground on this one, why not tap me on the shoulder and make me aware of your displeasure? If he had at done that, I’d have been more willing to accept his opprobrium; at least it would have come in a constructive manner.
Anyway, the guy was being a dick, so I decided I had a choice: move over without being asked, or continue to sit there exactly as I had been. Because I’m a petty and small-minded person, I chose the latter. And guess what? I REGRET NOTHING. That guy sucked.
Oh, and we got off at the same stop, and when I stood up, I saw him looking daggers at me, so I turned to him, took out my headphones and said “You know, next time you want someone to move over, you should probably ask them like an adult instead of cursing at them when you think they can’t hear you.” Closed/muttering mouths don’t get fed around here. The look on his face was priceless, by the way.
The point I’m trying to make is this: don’t be passive-aggressive. It accomplishes absolutely nothing, and it makes me hate your guts.
An afterword: I changed trains at Myrtle Ave., and the very first thing I saw was a black guy yell “PARDON ME!” and careen wildly onto a bench already occupied by two people. Now that’s how you sit down on a train.