That one on the bus: A challenge to racism

On the bus there is always ‘that one’ who we steer clear of.  They look different.  They perhaps smell a little odd, nothing offensive mind, just .. odd.  They maybe move a little different too.  If you were to sit next to them you are not quite sure if they will suddenly start talking to you loudly.

Sometimes ‘that one’ might be a drunk.

This morning ‘that one’ was already sat on the bus.  He stood out like a sore thumb and to be honest I felt a little sorry for him.  Although the seat next to him was empty, new passengers moved quietly past him, preferring to stand rather than to sit next to him.  When the seat next to me became available, even though I was further back along the bus, this seat was filled first not the one next to him.

He didn’t notice, maybe he was just in his own little bubble.  Maybe he was too polite to show that anything untoward had happened.

‘That one’ on the bus this morning was actually well dressed, well groomed and I very much doubt he was drunk.  His clothes were in good condition, probably in better condition than mine and he kept himself to himself.  The lady who sat next to me on the bus probably had no idea that she was sitting next to a foreigner or immigrant worker because my skin tone is pale and similar to everyone else one the bus.

Yet ‘that one’ came from Asia.  ‘That one”s skin was brown and when boarding the bus, that’s the first thing that is noticed.  There’s no indication he’s going be odd or embarrassing in anyway.  No god-damn indication at all.

I was incensed when I realised this and I’m getting wound up again now writing about it.  If this happens to ‘that one’ day in day out, he must be some kind saint not to be a seething ball of rage.  I’m not even going to try and find some bible passage or to crowbar in some passive-aggressive “what would Jesus do” quote.  The facts stand up for themselves.

But you what really pisses me off?  You know what really leaves me boiling?  I can’t work the f*** out who’s worse.  The passengers on the bus who  passed by the free seat or the lady who  sat next to me even though I was further down the bus.  Or me;  could I have at least said something?  Maybe I could have at least asked why she decided to sit next to me.  I didn’t.  I just left the racism intact for fear offending someone’s sensibilities.  That’s what really pisses me off.



I’ve wrestled with whether to leave the blanked out profanity in place or remove it.  After removing it and replacing it several times, I’ve decided that on balance I’m leaving it in.  It describes how I felt at the time, and it describes how I still feel now.


8 Replies to “That one on the bus: A challenge to racism”

  1. Hi Alex,
    as i mostly understand you, i have to point out that we, in Finland, amongst other things, are too different where we sit on the bus. As a “porilainen”, i do sit down on first available totally free bench, counted from _back_, then if there is nothing before middle doors, i will stand in there and pretend to be cool with that. I am sure there is similar approach in Helsinki too. This behavior is learned while in basic school; cool guys don’t dance, they do not wear “pipo” in winters and they do sit in the backseat of the bus 😉 So, for at least me, skin color do not apply, but in shame i admit that smell or loud appearance might.

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