How I was raised: a response to the (mean) lady on the bus

12 04 2014

To the lady on the bus last night who said I had “no class” and asked who raised me because I failed to see the elderly people standing behind everyone else and offer my seat to them:

“I am silent not because it is an admission of fault or guilt. I am silent because I was raised by my mother, who taught me not to get upset at the words and actions of strangers. I could very easily insult you back — call you names, judge you based on your outfit, make some crass comment about how inappropriately rude you are, but that’s not what my mother taught me. And quite frankly, I don’t want to sink that level. I don’t want to descend to that cesspool-level of insult that some people resort to, that some people feel they are entitled to use to insult strangers on a bus. I am not that kind of person because you know what? I am better than that.

I could call you out on your ignorance and blatant judging, and tell you how in fact, I have more class than you will ever have in your life. But that would imply that I value your opinion of me, which, quite frankly, I don’t. I could tell you that I am almost always the first to offer my seat whenever I’m on the bus. I could tell you how I organized a fundraiser to support Covenant House last year, an organization dedicated to helping street youth and at-risk adolescents. I could tell you that I donated almost $400 to charity last year while still being a full-time student. I could also tell you that this is the first time I’ve ever worn this outfit (dress pants, dress shoes, a purple dress shirt with a vest, tie, and blazer). I could tell you that clothes, money, and material possessions don’t mean a lot to me and don’t necessarily reflect who I am. I could do all of these things to make you understand, but doing it on a public bus in front of an audience is not how I do things. Because I’m classy.

I won’t do any of those things. I’m not that kind of person. What I will do is apologize. I’m sorry if I couldn’t see the elderly couple from  where I was sitting. I would have gladly offered my seat if I had seen them. And as for you, I will give you the benefit of the doubt: maybe you’re having a bad night. Maybe you just got off an eight-hour shift. Maybe you’re always like this. I don’t know. But I’m not going to hold your obvious negativity against you. Instead, I’m going to wish you a good night. You may think there is malice or sarcasm underneath, but you’d be looking for something that doesn’t exist. You want to know who raised me? My mother. My classy mother raised me. And she raised a classy son.

Have a good night. And goodbye.”

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