I've often spoken about my fellow bus commuters (one avid reader told me that maybe I do so too much but hey, this is where I spend most of my time where I'm not at work or home!) and I thought it was worth noting that I believe they all have something in common - general intolerance. Let me explain...
As noted in a previous post I'm preggers which means I'm sensitive to any smell known, or yet to be discovered, by man. Working in San Francisco, where there is a feast of smells emanating primarily from the homeless and the general lack of public bathrooms, I am always greeted with very unpleasant smells that bring me to the brink of loosing my breakfast, or last night's dinner. So, following the advice of a friend, I've started to apply herbal oil - lavender in my case- to my wrists and such so that when I get off the bus THAT scent can distract me from what's going on. Now, keep in mind that I've been riding the bus and applying this oil for months - at least three.
Yesterday morning, I sat next to a woman I wouldn't necessary sit next to (the breast cancer survivor who gives everyone regular updates on her health status usually at the bus stop on the way back) who was pretending to be asleep. Generally, if someone is awake, I ask them if it the lavender oil would disturb them but since she wasn't "notably" available I applied a little in hopes of preventing nausea.
Five minutes later..
"Oh my god! Did you just spray perfume or something?!"
"Are you allergic to perfume? I did not apply perfume, it's an essential oil, lavender.. are you allergic to lavender?"
"Oh... I'm getting a headache"
I start to get up and say, "let me switch seats, I wouldn't want to inconvenience you."
She grabbed my wrist, pulled me down and, "don't worry, the damage is already done."
"Well, I'm really sorry that this is upsetting you - it's too bad that something that helps me does not help you."
She went back to pretending to be asleep.
This morning, I purposely avoided sitting next to her - it was easy since she had her bag along anything else imaginable a commuter might need in the seat next to her but I also made a concentrated effort to stay as far away from her as possible! I end up in the last seat in the back of the bus, I apply my lavender and she begins to protest - keep in mind that I'd been applying lavender in different areas of the bus for the last THREE MONTHS and this was never a big "to do" but today she was complaining to the people behind her about me and as she arrived to her bus stop she told all the riders around her, "what a great way to start my day.. with a headache!" then she turned and GLARED at me! As she was descending the steps of the bus she theatrically threw her head back with her hand up to her forehead and groaned before stepping out into the street.
How is it that for the last THREE MONTHS I have sat in front of her, behind her and everywhere else on this bus and it never bothered her until now?! Because it's a sign of general intolerance.
What's so general about intolerance?
I've noticed that, in this country anyway, it's everywhere. It's particularly dangerous because how on earth can we live peacefully with each other if the first thing on everyone's mind is how someone else's behavior is inconveniencing me! What ever happened to tolerance and personal responsibility?
If the breast cancer survivor I mentioned on the bus was truly allergic to perfumes (which is doubtful since her allergy only began once she knew about my lavender oil ritual) why not take matters into her own hands and wear a little filter mask when you're on the bus instead of demanding that the world stop wearing perfume so that she can be comfortable?
If someone parks on the street in front of your house why get all upset and call a tow truck when there are plenty of spots across the street? No one is trying to personally inconvenience you!
If there's a kid running around the restaurant, not being noisy or actually bothering anyone just being a kid, why do you have to shoot dirty looks at the parents?!? How is this actually inconviniancing you - other than your preconceived thoughts of how the world should run?
Puhleeze... I'm so sick of this personalized, customized and adjustable experience that is reflected in every aspect of our little American lives that makes us completely intolerant and annoyed with anyone or anything that has different needs.
Take responsibility for christssakes and stop trying to make the world conform to your ideal! I promise, it will save you lots of energy and grief in the end.