Waiting for a Bus
I was daydreaming, one sleepy Sunday morning, remembering my life in New York City. Okay, so I still have a love for NYC. I know that it was a good decision for me to move out to California, however there are times, knowing what I know now, when I wonder what if? I’ve learned that every experience, pleasant or not, is a classroom of self-discovery and as we get more comfortable in our classroom we drop our resistance and adopt a bring-it-on point of view. I was recalling my commute to work one morning in New York, waiting for a downtown bus when an encounter with a disturbed person taught me a valuable lesson about myself.
As I remember, that day did not get off to a good start. Besides sleeping through the snooze alarm, I was having a “bad tie day.” You know, when you’re set on wearing a certain shirt that day, but can’t find the perfect tie to go with it. (Listen, if women can have a “bad hair day” then men can have our own.) Anyway, I settled on the blue tie against my better judgment because I had to move on and get into work, as I had an important early morning meeting with my manager.
My walk to the bus stop was relaxing. As it turned out, the bus was running late, and I guess in hopes of making it come sooner, I kept staring up 5th Avenue imagining the bus turning the corner at 86th St. towards the stop. That is when I noticed him.
Psychotic people look just like everyone else so I didn’t make much of his presence as he stepped by me, when the unexpected happened. He stopped, looked me up and down, then in front of a crowd of my fellow commuters screamed at the top of his voice, “That is the ugliest tie I ever saw.” I was in a state of shock, my first words screaming in my head, ”How did he know?”
I wouldn’t have known that the man actually was disturbed if I hadn’t noticed that he started to verbally abuse others as he continued down 5th Ave., but it was too late. The damage was done. I believed him. But why? In part, because I knew that I wasn’t satisfied with the blue tie but wore it anyway. I was disgusted with my indecision and embarrassment.
By the time our bus reached 79th St. everyone seemed to have forgotten the crazy guy, except me. There was a battle going on in my head, I was tense and my body ached. I had adopted a defensive attitude that I couldn’t shake. My “bad tie day” seemed to be escalating and there was nothing that I could do that day but just ride it out.
Was that unbalanced man really the cause for the stress that was to follow me around for the entire day, or was it my own doing? Did he really transfer his negative emotions to me or did I create them myself? At the time, I believed that my stress came from his attack, but in time I would see that my indecision about my choice of ties along with my decision to allow my tie to define me (in that moment) was the culprit of my unhappiness.
I imagined what would have happened if that guy had showed up at the bus stop a day earlier. That day I was wearing my favorite Armani suit with my favorite shirt and tie. It was a no-brainer. I wouldn’t have hesitated to doubt him and see the situation as it really was, just the ranting of a some poor disturbed fellow.
It is definitely bruising to the ego to see the truth. After the initial shock of realizing that I was responsible for what happened that day, I was actually quite exhilarated. I felt empowered with the ability to change my point of view rather than make excuses and blame other people.
Nowadays, most of my commuting is in the comfort of my Nissan Exterra. Instead of a crowded 5th Ave. bus I have a parking lot of cars on the 405 freeway. Only now I know that I am in charge of the meanings that I give to everything and everyone in my life.