So I leave work early after just hearing that I will be overloaded with cases next week. I'm not worried and I'm sure it wasn't intentional, so I fired off a quick email to suggest that the allocation needed revisited and ran out of the door. I had to get to Snappy Snaps to collect my passport photographs before they shut.
Feeling breezy, knowing I'll definitely make my train, I take a seat in a section where no one was sitting. Put my bag beside me, but within minutes a woman comes along and asks me to move it. Not unreasonable even though there's plenty of space elsewhere, but I'm reading tonight's Evening Standard, so felt I needed room to put my bag somewhere. I move to a section where there is more room and take my seat.
Train leaves....train arrives at intermediate station...
Three girls jump on, and take the two free seats in my section, one sitting next to me with her friend on her lap the other opposite me. She's leaning on me, and although I know better than to expect my personal space not to be invaded on public transport, its unreasonable to expect me to make the remainder of my journey as a cushion for a stranger.
"Would you mind not leaning on me please?"
I'm not sure how else I could have asked, but I obviously asked in the wrong way. The abuse begins...first laughing in my face for asking because that's rude, then I'm cheeky for saying anything at all, at my age I should have known better than to be so rude..., I should have shut up...I quite happily would have but they were relentless.
I kept my composure and suggested that they should take a look at their own conduct, and I asked if there was any way I could have asked which wouldn't have annoyed them. It just made them worse.
I should watch myself because, "you don't know what I'm capable of" and they begin to become aggressive. They continued to suggest that I should shut up, then talked amongst themselves laughing about it, and saying how they loved it when they made old people shut up and how great it was. All this, because of course, I should be intimidated by these three young girls who decided to make my journey home, and start to the weekend a memorable one.
Mr Knightinshiningarmour sat opposite me and piped up suggesting that one of them takes the free seat in the other section - more ammunition and they started on him too. Asking if we were together, suggesting that if they were adults he wouldn't have got involved, so I pointed out that there are 3 of them attacking me, and what made them think it was acceptable to behave in such a way anyway? I think I actually said they should have more respect for their elders because they kept going on about how old I was.
I realised that these girls would not stop talking, insinuating, commenting, and laughing at me, so I decided that I'd said enough and it wasn't worth it. Nose in book, I let them talk amongst themselves, and apologised to Mr Knightinshiningarmour who tried to help which only seemed to give them ammunition to make lewd comments about the two of us.
Finally my stop. I get off, passed them (thank goodness without a hiccup) and queued to get off the train.
"No wonder she needed all that room, look how wide she is!"
If these girls thought they were so good, why did they wait for me to leave before make personal comments about how I looked. I turned back, walked up to them, and suggested they should have said those things to my face rather than to wait for me to get off. Oh the shouting as I walked away. The little cows didn't get off and face me directly though...
I wouldn't have mentioned their race, but I got off a train, and Mrs Elderlyblacklady came up to me.
"Please don't judge them all, they're not all like that"
She continued by telling me how her younger sister used to be like those girls but how she's different now. These were three black girls and I judged those girls on their behaviour. A shame that they did fit a stereotype which Mrs Elderlyblacklady was clearly well aware of. She felt embarrassed for young black girls generally, and I felt embarrassed that she felt that way. And of course sorry that Mr Knightinshiningarmour had to continue his journey with them.
It did cross my mind on my walk home however, whether if they were 3 white girls, 3 polish girls, 3 asian girls, 3 indian girls or any mix of those races the same thing would have happened. Maybe in certain areas of town, or in certain cliques...