I was physically attacked last night.
Waiting at a bus stop, I approached the only other person there – a young man speaking on a cellphone – after he’d terminated his call, asking what time it was.
Instead of answering, he held out his phone horizontally and at waist level, slowly walking towards me. “That’s odd,”, I thought, but by stooping I could read out the time. “11:17.”
“What time is it?” he asked?
“Um, 11:17,” I replied. I walked to the posted schedule and checked. Ah, the next bus would arrive in five minutes. “The next bus’ll arrive in five minutes,” I said.
He called someone on his cellphone and began loudly demanding to be picked up. “Hey man, pick me up. Get your car and pick me up. You need to come get me,” over and over, restated in various ways. I took out my book and stood back near the benches.
He hung up and walked towards me again. “What’s that you’re reading? A book?”
“I don’t want you to think I’m stupid I’ve read lots of books.” (The lack of punctuation is intentional.) “What’s it about?”
“What kind of beans? Mr. Beans…?”
“No, y’know, beans.”
“What’s it’s called?”
“Beans: A History.”
“What’s it about, man? Mr. Beans…? I donwana… I’ve read lots of books, okay?”
Oookay, I thought to myself, this guy’s probably in an illegal state of mind. Better just stay away from him.
“What’s the taxi number? What’s the taxi number?”
“I’m sorry, I don’t know.”
I walked to the far end of the stop pavillion. “You don hafta be an asshole!” he stated in no particular direction, then started talking on his phone again. I tried to ignore the conversation, but the volume slowly increased.
“You hafta come pick me up, I’m lost… get in your car and pick me up, come and get me, get in your car…” blah blah blah. A few minutes pass in silence, punctuated by occasional spasms of demands for a ride addressed to the phone.
So I’m standing there with my book in one hand, my umbrella in the other, and a backpack full of books on my right shoulder. Suddenly, he runs over and hits me in the face. My glasses go flying.
“What is your problem!” he yells at me, pushing me up against the bench. He hits me on the other side of the face.
By this point I’ve dropped my book and the umbrella, more out of surprise than anything else. I start hitting back. I think I may have gotten in a few good blows, nothing that induced bleeding. My attempt to shatter his nose and drive the bone fragments into his brain certainly didn’t seem to accomplish much. At one point he tried to get me in a headlock, so I bit him. Don’t think I broke the skin, which is certainly a good thing. Who knows what might have been in his bloodstream?
I’m not a fighter, I’m a lover. Well, I’m not a lover either. More a reader. One way or another, I’m not much for pugilism. He didn’t seem to be any good either, which was lucky for me. I may even have given better than I got, though I wouldn’t swear to it. I guess being doped up on goofballs doesn’t do much for your combat skills.
After a short exchange of punches, he ran away. I picked up my glasses (not damaged, thankfully) and my other possessions, and waited until the bus came.
End result: no serious injuries, or even minor injuries, to speak of. Some minor swelling where he pushed my cheek against my teeth and a minor interior cut where the inner surface of my lip hit a tooth’s edge. No visible bruising. The cut should heal completely by tomorrow.
I was (and am) not so much angry, or frightened, as bemused. This was so totally random. Astonished, perhaps, is the word.
Why is it that, given my penchant for scorn and my ability to point out the worst flaws in arguments and people, that the one time I’ve been attacked has been when I did absolutely nothing to induce or provoke it? The complete lack of poetic irony is shocking.