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Rush hour on public transport sucks, especially in winter when cold commuters pack onto train platforms to avoid the chill of biking or walking between home and work.
But it seems this time of year brings out the absolute worst in commuter behaviour, as I was reminded when I boarded a train home from Sydney’s Town Hall station yesterday.
It was just past 5pm, and as the train doors opened everyone towards the back of the platform started to move in, pushing the people by the doors onto the train as fast as possible.
'Rush hour brings out the worst of commuter behaviour.' (Getty)I'm a 5’2, 23-year-old woman who doesn’t weigh much, so this push usually results in me being jostled around like spare change in your mum’s handbag, bumping between people as they push in around me. I have neither the strength nor desire to push back, so I just give plenty of embarrassed apologies and try to stay upright.
But yesterday as the crowd closed in behind me, I was bumped forward onto the train just one step ahead of a grown man who decided I had “pushed in” and then took it upon himself to tell me off for it.
I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
I had headphones in so I didn’t hear the exact wording of his scolding, but it involved a few expletives, a furious tone and the words “little b---h.”
He looked like your average CBD worker, mid-40s and six feet tall, wearing a suit and backpack as he travelled home from work. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
'I couldn't believe what I was hearing.' (Getty)I know how frustrating the rush hour can be, and though the verbal abuse left me rattled, I probably could have forgiven him if it ended there. But as I scurried down into the carriage I suddenly felt a sharp jab in the middle of my back, right above my bra strap.
It’s hard to describe exactly how unsafe, uncomfortable and nervous it made me feel, knowing this grown man was so mad at what he thought was me “pushing in” on a train that he felt the need to put his hands on me, even in such a minor way.
I kept my head down and took a single seat next to a woman, avoiding any seats that would allow the fuming man to sit anywhere near me.
But as he walked past my aisle seat he slipped off his backpack and held it in one hand so that he could ‘bump’ me with it as he walked past. I could actually see the way he pulled his arm back a little as he approached me to make sure he’d get some force behind the hit.
'I kept my head down and sat as far from him as possible.' (Getty Images/iStockphoto)He made another muttered comment and took a seat two rows behind me, and I didn’t look around once on my whole journey home.
Rush hour is frustrating, but even as I sit here writing this I can't begin to understand how this grown man felt justified verbally and physically intimidating a woman half his age, and half his size on public transport - all because he thought I “pushed in.”
Even if I had, it wouldn’t justify his atrocious reaction.
This article first appeared on honey.nine.com.au
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