Civility

You’d think it was still night.

I look through the bus stop glass.  All light is diffused.  The sun, so strong yesterday, has melted much of the snow and left speckles.  They scatter the passing headlight beams as they cut through the dark.

On the train, square brick structures with arrow slit like openings pop out of the dark, lit by floodlights.  How many times have I ridden this train, yet I have never seen them before, until the contrast of light against dark makes them plain.  There they are, no accident of nature.  Deliberately placed, by someone.

The air changes.  A sharp, unpleasant smell.  Skunk?  Poor skunk.  Must have tried to cross the tracks.

The intercom blares.  “There is no smoking of any kind permitted anywhere on the train or platforms!”  It is the driver.  She is agitated.  So, not a skunk.

The smell gets stronger.  The culprit must be in this car.  It stings my nose like pepper.  I put my scarf over my nose and mouth, to breathe.  This is a first.  As if the consequences of alcohol abuse were not unpleasant enough.

I’ve climbed platform stairs bathed in barf, sat amid groups of large angry people who feel the need to shout their obscenities for all to hear, witnessed the intimidation of the helpless.

Did something about that last one. (Don’t worry.  No violence!)

Somebody needs to, else we devolve as a society into mobs of grunting cave dwellers.

Makes me wish for the days of conductors on trains.  Parasols and tipped hats.

The angry announcement sounds again as the train reaches the next stop.  The smell goes away.  The train waits.  A transit officer paces up the aisle, solid in his dark blue uniform, and talks to the driver.  The culprit is no longer on the train, but he knows who it is, and will go talk to them.

It’s a bit like watching a white knight heading in to sort things out.  I think I’m grateful.

I wonder about the culprit, the defiance, and what they are doing to themselves, and I sigh.  Sadly, as pot becomes legalized, this sort of thing is likely to become more frequent. A society spiraling down, civility—Civilization—on the brink.

There is an ad campaign on the platforms right now, against sharing “nudes” on smartphones; a call to decency and an advisory about the law.

Have we become a society of rebels yet?  Will this kind of call inform, or inspire?  Are the lawmakers the keepers of the national conscience now?  Is this a good thing? Who manged this task before?

I walk off the platform and see mounds of snow like marshmallow cookies with all the chocolate peeled off, or maybe like alien igloos.  It’s odd and pretty all at once.

But further on, I pass a bank of snow in which someone has scrawled: “I share nudes.”

Kicking back.

I don’t have my gloves on, but I use my hands to erase the message.  I sweep and sweep until the ice crystals bite my hands, burn them red with the cold.  I crunch it between my fingers, melting shards.  I strangle it.

Then I pause.   I rewrite the message.

My answer.

My kick back.

“I share (heart symbol).”  (Would you believe Wingdings has no heart symbol?  I can find every shape of snowflake, but no heart.  Typical).

I walk the now slick narrow ice path.

“Let me get out of your way,” says a man.  Just like yesterday.  But this one is young.  A little further, and a boy steps silently to the side for me.

“Thanks,” I say.

“You’re welcome,” he answers impeccably.

Perhaps civility –Cicilization—is not dead, yet.

Today’s Quote:  We dream because writing is so much of what makes us … us. We dream because the whole idea of writing powerful stories and profound non-fiction won’t leave us alone. …We dream because we can’t not.” – N. Rue, from her blog “Doorways”

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