I took the trolley-bus home, something I said I would never do again. The trolley-bus is new, modern, and only costs one UAH to ride. Retired individuals are allowed to ride it for free. As the weather has turned to snow no one walks to work or to the store anymore and the busses fill up beyond capacity. The trolley-bus is the worst offender.
Grandmothers in Ukraine are not gentle. They are not friendly. And they have a bone to pick with everyone for a wide variety of reasons. During the cold they gather in vast numbers and share their feelings of discontent with anyone within arm reach. I mean quite literally that they are hitters.
When the doors open they will shove their way onto the bus and if you are under the age of forty and are sitting in a chair they will stand in front of you and shout angrily in Russian until you move. I always choose a standing spot in the back, as far from the seats as possible. On this last trip it did not matter.
A small, pruned woman got onto the bus with a strong intent to occupy my spot against the back wall. Her head was covered in the traditional bandana and her small coat was pulled up to her chin. As she approached the wall she stood beside me at a spot where she had access to a handle to hold for support. She liked this handle but decided she wanted to be on the other side of it; my side of it. As the bus started she walked towards me and quite literally pushed me aside. I lost balance and fell into the group of students beside me. When I righted myself she occupied the space I previously stood and held the handle from that side. No warnings. No apologies. No one on the bus made eye contact with me when it happened and no one treated it like an offense against not only my space but my personal self.
I spent the remainder of the bus trip huddled against the wet jackets of the students who pretended I was not in their space at all and maintained looks of supreme indifference at the doors. I hopped off at the next stop and walked the rest of the way.
I made a pact with myself that this winter I would walk the forty minutes to school regardless of weather. I have gators to protect my legs from getting wet and Yak Trax to prevent myself from slipping on any ice. It will be cold and environmentally hostile but there will be peace in the isolation of my walk. None struggle greatly who do not struggle alone.