Last Sunday morning, I tip-toed around the apartment, trying to not make too much noise as I packed up the last few things I’d need for the next three days in New York. Kissing a mostly-sleeping Scott good-bye, I headed out the door and towards the Bolt Bus.
I was running late and so hopped into a cab at 19th and Walnut to get a lift to the bus stop. As soon as I was settled in the back seat, the driver started grumbling about how Philadelphia is a terrible city. He bemoaned the fact that there aren’t as many people around because it’s summer and then said, “But the worst of it was what happened to me on May 10th. You don’t want to know.”
It was the kind of statement where the meaning feels to be the exact opposite of the words. He wanted me to know what happened to him and he wanted me to ask him about it. So I did.
“Some animal of a person, sitting right back there where you’re sitting, he robbed me. He had a kitchen knife and told me he was going to kill me. I tried to fight back and he bit a chunk of my earlobe off.”
The words look fairly flat on the screen here, but there was such passion and anger rising off of him that I was concerned that he was going to lose control of the cab on the short ride. He continued to rant about the incident, pointing at his ear lobe and announcing that he no longer believed in forgiveness. “I hope that animal rots in hell.”
I tried to listen with compassion, while not agreeing or disagreeing with the statements about punishment and condemnation he was making. I told him that I was really sorry that he had had to have that experience and that I could understand that he’d be angry after having such a painful and frightening experience.
It was a little jarring to observe such venhemous rage that early in the day, and it left me feeling a little shaken and grateful when I exited the cab.