The Idiocy of Strangers
I am not a violent person. When I do get angry, it’s usually at myself or, occasionally, at more general things like racism, cheating, or people who wear leggings as if they were trousers.
When faced with someone jumping a queue, though, or a woman with visible knickers, I struggle to get angry at them personally. It just makes me sad, because I know they’re humans having bad days or fundamental lapses in judgement, and I too am a human who has bad days (though I would never leave the house in a pair of tights and a leather jacket).
This morning I got angry at a person, personally, in person. It is the 1st of November and I was running down Tufnell Park Road at 6.30am in the dark. Two men and a woman were filling the pavement ahead of me, tripping down the footpath on their way home from a Halloween’s carousing. They were young and tall and costumed, probably students with nowhere they had to be on a Tuesday morning. I ran close to the wall, annoyed that they didn’t seem to be making room when, just as I was squeezing by, the girl screamed into my face, then laughed as I jumped and dodged out of her way.
It was nothing. A split-second encounter.
I was so cross it took me the rest of the run to calm down. I wanted nothing more than to turn around, run after the girl and push her to the ground. I wanted to do it so much my fingertips ached with the longing to do it. I wanted to scare her. I wanted to show her I wasn’t scared. I wanted to tell her she was an idiot.
I didn’t. People love to goad or taunt runners, because they know that a 6.30am running type isn’t going to turn around and deck them. If you ever retaliate, or shout at them, they are offended, “I was only joking”, they say. Well, I’m not laughing.