(this is annie)

One of my goals is to be a kinder and more thoughtful person. Most people think I'm nice enough, but in my mind I'm not always so friendly. I genuinely want to like strangers, but they frequently make it difficult by (non)virtue of being rude and selfish. A reluctant misanthrope. So if I can't automatically like people by default, maybe doing nice things will help.

Last night I got on a mostly packed train. Two stops into the ride, a woman hobbled on while carrying grocery bags, calendars, a broom, and some other stuff. Basically, she was overloaded in an overcrowded train. Because she was carrying so many things, she couldn't hold on, which left her teetering like W.C. Fields. I tapped her on the arm and offered her my seat. She politely refused, but I insisted.

I stood up from the seat and did the "no, really, you sit" thing to Broom Hilda — but as soon as my ass had left the seat, some girl greedily darted in there as fast as though she'd been playing musical chairs. Broom Hilda's face fell and she tried to regain balance. Calendars fell. It was awkward. Now, see, this is where I'm only partly nice. If I were really kind, I would not have thrown my mother's disapproving stare at the oblivious seat-ganking girl. Did she really think that I was just ditching my seat so I could stand next to it in a sardine tin of a train? Ugh!

At the next stop, someone else alighted, and the other passengers politely pretended to not want the empty seat. "You could sit right there if you like," I said to Broom Hilda, who hadn't noticed the seat. She smiled, and as she shuffled over, the younger woman's face had a look of ashamed realization. She stood up and insisted that Broom Hilda take her seat. The older woman did, and for the rest of the train ride, she and the guy next to her chatted happily.

So you see what I mean? My initial instinct is to be considerate, but I have this weird impulse to judge. And then I wind up feeling like a bigger jerk than I would have if I'd just stayed in the seat.

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    it's anniet at gmail.


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