Here is a funny story I wrote up when I was on the train home from DC one time. I posted it to the PSDP listserv, and meant to put it in my blog, but I never did! So here is the story!
The years of practice standing up for Hestia’s (and my!) rights to access have started to bleed through to other areas.
On our train ride home, there was a lady seated in the aisle across from me. As soon as we got on, the first chance the attendant had, the lady started complaining saying she is allergic to dogs. The attendant offered to help her move to another seat (she had prime seating in the front of the train), but she refused. I pretended I didn’t hear.
Then she objected that I had my shoes off. I pretended I couldn’t hear her until she started cussing and yelling. I asked her what was offensive about my feet, and she just kept repeated that I had naked feet in her face. To be fair I was taking up two seats with my legs and feet on the chair closer to where she was sitting on the other side of the aisle.
She said, well how would you feel if I had my feet facing you! So I said I’d feel great that she was comfortable. Then went right back to reading my book. Ignoring mean lady.
I noticed that every time the attendant passed by our row, the mean lady called her over to request very nicely that I not have bare feet in her face. Finally mean lady asked for a supervisor.
The supervisor asked me to talk in a different part of the train, and explained this was a problem passenger and could I please help her out and put socks on or something. I didn’t have any socks with me. She told me to put my shoes on– I countered with “on the seat?” and the attendant said I could just have my shoes loosely hanging on, that that should be enough. So I agreed to do so.
But I had two blisters and the shoes were really annoying my feet. So I figured I would compromise and not have my feet “in her face” so after an hour or two I took my shoes off again and sat cross legged in the seat.
She eventually noticed and started yelling at me big time. I just smiled and said my feet are not in your face very politely, and went back to my reading. It was just like a public access challenge!
Eventually she took one of her shoes and socks off and draped her legs over the armrest to block the aisle (not allowed to block aisles) and kept waving her foot around saying things like “how do you like my feet in your face?” and so on. I just smiled and replied that I was happy she was getting comfortable in a very even and steady tone, then went back to my reading.
The lady blocking the aisle and shouting curse words at me caught the attention of another supervisor. He told her in no uncertain terms that I was allowed to have bare feet, and that my legs were crossed and she couldn’t even see my feet anyway. I felt very vindicated!
Then, in an attempt to annoy me I am sure, she got her cell phone out and proceeded to call a few people to complain about “this white lady” and my “naked feet in her face”. Very loudly, I might add. I completely ignored her, continued reading. Eventually after about an hour of this, she got tired of it, and shifted to complaining about something else. I made sure not to have the soles of my feet facing her for the rest of the ride (which was uncomfortable to me) but instead sat either like normal or cross legged with my shoes off.
I know that had I not had all this practice standing up for myself with public access challenges that I probably would have been in tears and with my shoes firmly on. But boy was I happy when her stop came up!