October 21, 2012
I’ve put the picture of the woman who bullied me on the bus on my WordPress blog, “whilehomeless,” on the page called “10/21/12: Picture from 10/18/12, Part 3: Woman who coughed at me on the bus.”
I think that what happened in this situation showed me how dangerous it’s getting for me to take the bus, and I haven’t taken it since. I can’t afford to take cabs; I can afford to take maybe one emergency cab per month, as long as I don’t have far to go.
The woman whose picture I took had been on the bus before and had bullied me on the bus more than once before. Sometime in the past week, she bullied me with another woman. I was sitting at the front of the bus, and the woman in the seat next to me leaned across me, putting her entire arm and part of her body on me, so that she could show something on her phone to the guy in the seat on the other side of me. I was surprised; that’s never happened to me before. I said “Excuse me.” She said “I’m sorry; I didn’t see you there.” Then, she continued to lean across me, with her arm on me and on my bag. I said, “EXCUSE ME, could you please take your arm off me?” She acted as if she had the right to behave as if I weren’t there and I had no right to tell her not to lean across me and use me as an arm rest; she said “I’m sorry,” and then she told me that I needed to calm down and that I shouldn’t be a bitch. I said “You have no right to lean across me that way or to call me a bitch for telling you not to.” She said “I’ve already said I’m sorry,” and she continued to talk, telling me that I needed to keep my mouth shut. I said “You’re obviously not sorry; I’m not trying to argue with you. You’re the one who keeps talking about this.” I couldn’t say a word without her interrupting me and telling me that I was crazy, that she had already said that she was sorry, and that I needed to be quiet. I finally started to lose my temper and said “You’re the one who needs to leave me the f— alone.” The other woman, the one whose picture I eventually took on 10/18/12, was sitting several seats back on the bus, and she started talking to the woman next to me, yelling across the bus that I was crazy, that I “do this all the time, take pictures of people and bother them for no reason,” that I belonged on the bus for people who have disabilities. I took out my camera, and the woman several seats away started to talk about that, saying “There she goes with the camera; she’s crazy.” I took out my notebook and she started to laugh, saying “There she goes with the notebook; what are you going to do with the notebook? You’re going to write in your notebook? Gonna write it all down?” Then she started yelling that she would take me over to Mass Mental.
On the night of the 18th, I was particularly shocked that the bus driver wouldn’t let me leave the bus. On 10/07/12, I was threatened on the bus by a woman whose picture I had taken after she harassed me; I wrote about that on WordPress on 10/08/12. She told me that I was lucky that she didn’t take the camera out of my hands and smash it, and then she said that she was going to leave the bus wherever I left the bus. I asked the man who was driving the bus on that night if he could ask her to leave the bus because she’d threatened me. He had heard all of the threats; they’d happened within a few feet of him. He said “I can’t ask her to leave the bus.” It wasn’t the same bus driver; however, it seems to me that a lot of what has happened on the bus has had nothing to do with policies or rules and a lot to do with people being allowed to bully and harass me.
I couldn’t get the man who was driving the bus on 10/07/12 to ask someone who was threatening me right there a few feet away from him to leave the bus, and I couldn’t get another man who was driving the bus on 10/18/12 to let me leave the bus even when I’d offered to, even though I hadn’t done anything wrong?
When I got to Waltham, I called the MBTA customer service line and told the person who answered what had happened. She said “That’s crazy” when I told her that the bus driver wouldn’t let me leave the bus. However, she also said “You should refrain from taking pictures on the bus.”
That concerned me.
Not only shouldn’t I have to submit to being abused the way that I’ve been abused, I can’t submit to it. Even though I shouldn’t have to EVER keep my mouth shut and not confront someone who has abused me, the bus is somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour from Waltham to Cambridge and vice versa, and I can’t walk away from the abuse even if I wanted to do that rather than confront it. I have the right to take pictures on public transportation, the way that everyone has the right to do that. I don’t provoke the people who abuse me on the bus. When I say “I can’t submit to being abused on the bus,” I mean that I CAN’T submit to it. It is legal to take pictures of people in public; it isn’t legal to punch people, even when they’ve provoked you, and that’s what’s going to happen if I don’t have another way to address the situation. Taking pictures is the peaceful way for me to address the situation. Take away the camera, and I’ll be arrested in less than a week. I guarantee it.
What’s happening is bullying and sexual harassment. It’s being lied about. Why should I get my life EVEN MORE ruined because people who want to be mean, inappropriate liars are being encouraged to be that way?
Also; even if videotaping people in the bathroom or in other places where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy were legal, which it ISN’T, I did NOTHING to cause that to happen to me, and neither did any of the other people that it’s happened to since the conglomerate started treating me the way it has about the video issue.
Why is it that I continue to be abused and seriously endangered over taking legal pictures of people WHO HAVE ALREADY ABUSED ME, which is why I took their pictures in the first place, and AT THE SAME TIME, the video issue continues to be endorsed as if THAT were ALSO something that is deserved when NOBODY COULD DESERVE IT?
Copyright L. Kochman, October 21, 2012 @ 3:46 p.m./edited @ 4:04 p.m.