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Expectations vs. Reality: The Racist Bus Driver

Expectations vs. Reality: The Racist Bus Driver

I recently had a run in with a racist MBTA bus driver. I won’t go into detail about exactly what happened, partly because I’m tired of rehashing it and partly because my blood pressure is already rising as I’m typing this blog post. What was shocking to me wasn’t the fact that he felt so emboldened as to point out my ethnicity as the sole reason for me not understanding him, but the fact that I immediately took the situation to an 11 rather than try to de-escalate and take the higher ground.

Sometimes, this thought goes through my head: “If a racist stranger on the street decides to berate me, I’m definitely going to be graceful and eloquent and well-spoken. I’ll explain that racism is founded in fear and ignorance; we just need a little understanding for others. We’re all here on this earth striving for the same thing. The human experience, success and happiness don’t have to be a zero-sum game exclusive to one group of people. I’d really change their world view.”

So in the moment, what did I actually say? Well, to be honest I don’t completely remember. But in my instantaneously adrenaline-induced rage, there were certainly some vulgarities thrown about. I’m not proud. While it’s totally admirable of my past self (“past self” meaning myself from about a month ago) to have thought this way, I’m learning that it’s easier said than done

With my own rose-colored world view, I forgot a pretty significant factor in all of this – me! Emotions run high and it’s hard to know when you need to be on guard when you’re going about your day, ready for the next time someone says something rude to you. It’s exhausting, and most times these kinds of hateful interactions blindside you at the most unexpected times (like when you’re trying to get on the bus in the morning to go to work). I’ll still strive to be the bigger person whenever I can, but hopefully now my expectations have been tempered a bit to include the biggest reality in any situation – myself.

Posted by Mike