You know how sometimes you wake up at 8:15, take a shower, get ready for work (including applying the new Sleek'n'Shine leave-in conditioner system you just bought, brushing both your teeth and your anti-grinding night guard, and deciding which podcast to listen to on your commute), and then finally make it to the subway platform, where a little old lady curses you with the Evil Eye?
It seemed so innocent at the time. All I said was, “Excuse me, could you move your bag?”
Does that seem threatening?
When I arrived at the subway platform this morning, ready to go to work on my next-to-penultimate day before the long weekend, there were plenty of people and the lone bench appeared full. As I walked by, I realized that one seat was actually taken by the small tote bag of the white-haired lady sitting next to it. All New Yorkers know that this is a faux pas – you don’t put bags on the seat if the train is full. This rule applies to subway platforms, too.
So I said, “Excuse me.” She ignored me at first, and I figured she didn’t hear me, so I said it again, and then asked the ill-fated question.
What happened next was unexpected.
First, she moved her bag. Then, she started mumbling in Hungarian (or some such), gave me the stink eye, got up, and walked about 10 feet down the platform.
I was confused. I clearly didn’t ask her to leave. And she was pissed – she stood there staring right at me, mumbling in Hungarian, until the subway came five minutes later.
The woman next to me, who had been witnessing this spectacle, looked over at me and shared a sympathetic eyebrow-raise, then started laughing. I joined her, but started to wonder if the “Evil Eye” (were it real) could be effective from 10 feet away.
However, I have yet to sprout a tail, grow horns, lose my hair, gain some warts or turn into a forest animal.
So I’m probably safe. (For now.)