For the first time in a while, I can say that I was thoroughly ashamed at the representation of Natives by their actions. This story happened today while riding on the bus, and if I offend anybody, I sincerely apologize. This experience triggered some deep rooted negative emotions I hoped to never feel again.
It all began on an evening bus ride home. Today, I missed the 120 bus home by 20 seconds, so I had to wait 15 minutes for the next one. I wasn’t too upset because I knew waiting would mean a less crowded bus (I would take that over a packed bus and getting home earlier any day).
After my 15 minute wait, the 120 arrived with plenty of seats, all of them being in the back. I perched up all the way in the back row of the bus and slid to the left window. There was an older white man who was sitting in the same row but all the way to the right window. The bus ride across the west Seattle bridge was pretty calm, a few bumps made me pop up off the seat but nothing was noteworthy.
We passed the bridge, hit the second stop, and the hell began.
"WAKE UP EVERYONE!" This 35-40 year old man yelled. I didn’t really look up, something inside of me crawled when he walked on the bus. He was belligerently drunk, and as he maneuvered on the bus, I kept thinking "Please don’t sit back here." He planted himself between myself and the older man. I notice he appears to have a pretty dark tan, and a long ponytail running down his back.
"Man, I didn’t mean to WAKE UP THIS BUS!" He continued to scream in his stupor, "Hey, bitch get over here!"
The drunk man’s male friend who strategically sat within arms reach of his friend, aware of the guys running mouth.
After some more yelling, the female friend who boarded the bus with the two, makes her way between Drunk guy and myself. This was a sign of relief for me but was also worrisome for the older man.
By this point, drunk guy is trying to talk to older guy. Much of the conversation is inaudible for me (I wasn’t paying attention much), until the older guy says, “Man, I’m just trying to change the topic. Can’t you just let it be.”
Drunk guy, swiftly reacts with “what’s wrong with your teeth man? Why are they so fucked up?”
I’m in astonishment at this comment. How could someone be so blatantly rude? His friends were thinking the same thing as they tried getting his attention, and told him to hush down.
The old man replied with “Why the fuck would you ask someone that? I didn’t take care of my teeth, okay. Enjoy your teeth and your health while you can. Take care of yourself.”
While the old man was offering some words of advice, the drunk man turns and smacks the woman who also appeared about 35 and to be Native, to shut her up.
When the drunk guy realizes he had an opportunity to talk, his only comment was, “I’m native man, I have good teeth but I’m gonna die young. I’ll drink till I die like all natives do.”
I’m astonished at this comment, but the words don’t stop, “See this girl,” smacking the Native woman’s arm with the back of his hand again, “she’s native too. She’s my bitch.”
At this point, I begin to grow concerned for safety. Not only for myself, but for this woman. It’s all too common for native women go through abuse.
This situation is happening all to quick for me to react. My emotions are running and they’re mostly triggering memories from childhood. This drunk guy leans over the older man, and begins to yell out the window “HEY ALL YOU PASTIES!!!”
Finally, the drunk guys male friend gets him to simmer down, but not enough for him to not comment, “see that short bitch right there, the things I would do to her…”
I thought he was referring to someone outside, but I had come to realize there were no women out there, he was referring to me.
Finally, as quickly as they arrived, they got off the bus, but not before drunk guy smacked his girlfriend on the side of the head, and she merely laughed it off.
When they got off, I looked around, completely in shock that everyone was acting like nothing had just happened.
I don’t know what bothered me most: the poor portrayal of natives, the possible domestic abuse, the overt racism, the targeting of me sexually on the bus with no regard to me being there or the fact that everyone acted like it was nothing.
Honestly today was a long day as is, but this experience was a reminder that I need to keep up this fight. I’m not sure if there’s much of a moral to this story. I know there may be some details I may have forgotten, but please consider that this was not a pleasant experience for me. Take from this what you will.
Buffalo Knitter out, Peace.