Starbucks. Me drinking bad coffee and reading my email. A bright and beautiful teen picks up her coffee. School ended early today; she's with her friends, enjoying the freedom. She fumbles her purse, the change, and the drink. 10c falls on the floor at my feet. I turn to see what the noise is. And just catch her... "Please, keep it. I don't need it." I look at her. She has her whole future in front of her; she thinks she's doing me a favour. I realize how I must seem. There's absolutely nothing to say. Where would I even start? I leave the money on the floor, pack up my computer, and leave.
I'm so disgusted with that scene that I am on time for the bus. I board. There's a dreadful smell of urine and unwashed bodies on the bus. I look around. It could be coming from at least three of people already present; the driver belts me in; I close my eyes. At the next stop, a young woman carrying a bag with the logo of a nursing/caring/attendant organization boards. She catches a whiff of the unmistakeable. She glares at me; I look down. "It's not me," I want to say, but I don't. I don't know her; there's absolutely no reason to speak up and discomfort someone else. I catch her several times on the ride; she's staring at me with an open look of disgust -- glad she's not my caregiver; feel sorry for anyone she cares for if they are in any way less than perfect; feel glad that it's not me.
I arrive home. There's an unmistakeable smell about me. At first, I'm like it's the guys on the bus, but then I realize that it's kind of been following me all day. It smells very much like piss. I put my nose to my cushion. Cat piss. CAT PISS.
Joke's on me, folks -- I wasn't the smell on the bus, but I might very well have been the source of some smell during the day. I've taken to feeling weird about protesting these kinds of things. My first response is to protest on the grounds that I, I, am different. I am not one of them, the smelly, the poor, the unwashed, the homeless. And, well, mostly I am not. But then I feel bad about protesting bad behaviour simply because I am not a member of the projected class; I feel bad protesting about the fact that, say, my computer, iphone, clothing, haircut, etc. should all scream that I don't actually *need* the 10c. I've come to see this as protest on the wrong grounds. I should protest on the grounds that doing someone a favour and dropping 10c at their feet are not the same thing, however bright and beautiful you are. I should protest on the grounds that if you are offended by the smell of homeless people, you should work towards justice and equity. You should work to see that all people have access to clean running water and a safe place to shower, eat, sleep, etc. I should protest, in other words, not my differentiation from a class of people but the intent and assumptions behind the behaviour. I've learned not to distinguish myself in situations like these; now, I need to learn to stand my principled ground.
Hmm. Now, how did that happen? Older cats with leaky bladder issues? Cats with attitude?
Post concludes with a picture of my cat staring imperiously from her throne, my chair.