A few nights ago, on my way home from work, I encountered an annoying fellow passenger on the bus home. I was in the back of the bus, with a whole bunch of other folks, and the fellow across from me said, "F^cking bitch", looking at the woman beside me.
My first reaction was my usual one - I thought maybe I didn't hear that right, while my adrenaline surged.
Next he muttered something similar, quietly, not attracting a whole lot of attention from anyone other than us at the back. Other than him, we were all women, except for a young boy. Some people reacted by steadfastly ignoring him. I sat there staring at my book, doing my best to assess the situation.
Meanwhile, the bus driver, being one of those cheery types with a great attitude about his job, announced to all of us that he hoped we enjoyed our ride, and thank you for taking the ttc, etc.
The fellow across from then put his fingers up to his forehead in an L-for-loser, again looking at the young, tomboyish woman beside me.
My survival instincts kicked in and I moved down to the middle of the bus, but kept my eye on the back of the bus. What if the guy was just being a dick to someone on his cell-phone-ear thingie? Wouldn't explain the L-for-loser. And I couldn't see if he had an ear thingie.
Along the route to my stop, it looked like the fellow wasn't doing much. Then, just before my stop, he started flicking the hat of the woman in front of him. I could see she wasn't sure if someone was doing it on purpose or not, since she wasn't facing him. She just straightened her hat a few times.
A woman who had got on the bus later, and sat down in my vacated seat, got up and moved.
I missed my stop; I couldn't leave. Nobody was doing anything. I went to the front of the bus, apologized, and told the driver I thought this fellow (the only person wearing shorts on the whole bus, so easy to identify) was bothering people. The wonderful driver pulled over, opened both door, as I got off - I had to get home, and didn't want to be the tattletale still on the bus - and went to the back to chat with the guy.
I still feel like I was cowardly. But I can't think of what else I should've done. In my old life, if I'd had a few drinks, I would've told him to stop, but I'm too scared to do that now. (In my 20s, at parties, I used to physically put myself in the middle of fights, to shock the participants into stopping; fortunately for me, it always worked; I hear from many other people that it's a freaking stupid thing to do.)