I had two missed risks on Monday. Both happened on the train, both dealt with the annoyances of having to be in close quarters with strangers, and both would have broken the imaginary barrier that exists between passengers.
The first was actually on the train platform. I was leaving work and a man on a riding scooter came off of the elevator with a boom box blaring at his feet. The music was quite loud and, after getting up early, I was kind of annoyed by it. I really wanted as much quiet as one could expect with public transit. He “parked” next to me under the heating lamp and began looking through some papers. He didn’t even seem to be listening to the loud, annoying thing.
I stood there contemplating my options. I could approach the man and ask him to turn down his music, I could cough loudly and rub my temples, or I could do nothing. Weighing one option against the next, I came upon yet another option: I could dance. Even though I was tired and wanted to sink into a well of silence, I realized that my mood may be lifted by a little movin’ and a-shakin’. So I started to dance, but just a little. I was scared to fully commit to something like that on a CTA platform. Within about a minute though, he turned the music off and my risk was lost.
The universe did not give up on me though, and within thirty minutes I was given another opportunity to take this risk. I switched trains downtown and found myself on a train with a young man who was listening to music on his phone. No earbuds, just with his phone held up to his ear. With the volume turned all the way up. Unlike the man on the platform, whose music was jazzy, this gentleman’s music was hardcore rap.
It was so damn annoying.
I looked over at him a few times, catching his eye and giving him my best “please turn that off” look. He seemed younger than me, but also tougher and bigger; while I don’t think he would have challenged me, he still kind of scared me. I wanted, desperately, to say something, but I just couldn’t summon up the courage. Eventually he turned the music off, and got off of the train a few stops later.
For whatever reason, I lacked the courage to take the risks presented to me. There were moments where I wanted something and was given the tools and opportunity to get what I wanted. However small it may have been, fear got in my way, and I succumbed.