I discovered something horrible about myself earlier. Or rather, I realized there is a singular horror that rests in our apathetic, 21st Century souls. I was riding tiredly in the train earlier, heading home. The 2 seats across the row from me were empty, but the seat behind them had a person of a musical bent (apparently) composing on music sheets. Composing songs on the Red Line. So glorious. From my seat, I couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman because I never turn around to look at people. If you’re behind me, you are forever out of my sight because I don’t care enough to turn to look at you unless you call my name or fart really loudly. In the seat directly behind me sat a blonde-haired woman (I remembered this from when I entered the train). I didn’t realize the passenger across and behind me was writing music until an upsetting air circulatory air or gravitational disturbance happened that caused a flurry of upset music sheets to tumble to the subway floor slightly under the seat in the row across from me. This is when I realized the person was working on music because I glanced back quickly (a justifiable reaction) after spotting the upset papers. The person was struggling to maintain order on their lap and were slow to lean down and pick up the papers from the floor. I debated a moment before resuming my straight-ahead demeanor. This was my signal that I essentially was not going to step up. My first reaction was that the person should be more careful. I contemplated briefly the possibility that I might get up, bend over and pick the sheets from the floor, but I didn’t do this. After several long, agonizing moments in which the songwriter failed to pick the paper up, the blonde lady behind me finally got up and picked them up herself. She handed them to the person and relieved me of an unspoken duty. Someone did it for me!
And then I felt sorta bad. I am every man. Or am I not?
Am I a piece of thoughtless crap? Shouldn’t our first instinct be to help people. Assist? Contribute to the welfare of mankind?
Why is this not our initial instinct? When the paper fell to the floor and I saw that the person was struggling to free themselves in order to pick them up from the floor, I could only look quickly before shifting my attention, because first of all, I thought they were pathetic for allowing the paper to fall, and lamer yet for not picking them up immediately. Why must I double-think helping a person in such such undemanding rescue as this? If someone was holding a knife to their throat, would I? Would I ever help anyone? Do strangers truly deserve to expect such assistance from strangers?
There are 2 types of people in this world.
There are those who instinctively help others, regardless of the magnitude or ignominy required of the assistance, and those who ponder the mechanics of such assistance, and the commitment entailed…I’m one of these people. As I sit and ponder my virtue before it can ever be proven evil. By the time I decide maybe I should spring to action, the situation laughs at my tardiness. It’s easier to sit when you’re needed than to run in circles when there is no reward. A few sheets of spilled music paper did not meet my internal cost/benefit analytic sortation device’s criteria for active engagement.
Easier to let the blonde lady’s resistance die first. That never fails. White ladies are pathologically socially responsible.
Ah fuck. I’m back in town.
Turn up the volume. It disguises the distaste.