All the frustration of the day in one simple interaction

I sat at the bus stop, tired, checking up on this and that on my iPhone. The bench was comfortable, and no one else was around. Cars would drive by, and around the corner people waited outside the sushi shop, but there was no one in my immediate vicinity.

The bus wasn’t going to show up for another hour. Even though it was only a 20 minute walk home from where I sat, still, I sat and surfed and ignored people.

It had been a long day. My frustration at Tri-Met’s erratic bus schedules on Sunday was just under the surface. Yet another stupid way religion impacts the non-religious. But I tried to let go of my frustration. I knew it grew from being hungry, and tired, and a little bit sunburned.

A thin lady walked up and stood right in front of me. “Is the bus coming? Do you know when it’s coming?” She talked fast, and wavered on her feet, and appeared to have different ideas about personal space than I did.

“An hour. It won’t be here for an hour,” I said. “Eight-fifty-six.”

“An hour?” She looked at her cell phone, closed it, put it back in her purse. “Well!” In one smooth movement she pulled out a pack of smokes and spun around to sit right next to me. “Well, I’ll just smoke a cigarette then go back to the bar, then!”

My tiredness and frustration came to a boil. She’s going to smoke. Right next to me. At a bus stop.

Which is supposed to be a non-smoking area.

In my own smooth movement, I swung my messenger bag over my neck, stood, and put my iPhone away. I turned to walk home, even though I was tired. I did not want to yell at the lady, which I knew I would do if I tried to explain. I think the no smoking rule is stupid, because there’s no way to enforce it except by social pressure, which is easily ignored. And I’m not confrontational enough, especially when I’m tired, to do the enforcing. So tonight I’d rather walk.

“Oh, you don’t drink?” the lady said, sarcastically.

I turned around briefly. “No. I don’t smoke.” But I fumed for several blocks thinking about that encounter as I walked home.