I was riding the train to work on Monday when a man got on and began yelling about how much he hated the CTA. He walked to the end of the car and kicked the door that connects one car to another, right next to where I was sitting.
It freaked me out. I’ve seen angry riders before, but never so angry that they resort to violence. Usually they just mumble to themselves and occasionally raise their voice. But this man’s anger caused every other rider to avert their eyes and some even switched train cars at the next stop.
Eventually an older gentlemen asked him to chill out. This calmed the angry man down a little, but he was still cussing and complaining about the train. I was just about to say something myself, feeling the need to speak up since his anger was bothering me so much, when a man at the other end of the car asked the angry man to watch his language, saying that there were kids on the train. This fueled the man’s anger, causing him to cuss even more and get into a verbal argument with the child-conscious man. Suddenly, speaking up didn’t seem like a good idea.
Throughout this year of risks I have attempted to listen to my true inner voice, not the one that speaks for the comfort of everyone else. In most cases it’s helped me live a more authentic life, but in the case of this angry man I don’t think it would have helped me or the situation to speak my mind.
I had to ask myself why I wanted to say something, and, after I thought about it, I realized that I was feeding off of his negative energy. Since his anger caused him to have an outburst, I began to believe that I also wanted to have an outburst. But I didn’t. I wanted to relieve the tension I was feeling, but I believe that speaking my mind would have only increased that tension.
So I kept my mouth closed, choosing to pass up this potential risk. I have no idea what would have happened had I said something, but, after some thought, I’m not sure I want to know.