By now you may have seen the viral recording of the deranged woman on a New York train swinging her umbrella at some folks whom she appears to have felt threatened by for no good reason. It’s a striking visual, somehow awful and hilarious at once, the latter mainly because the behavior of the perpetrator is so damn outrageous.
As I’m sure a lot of other viewers thought upon seeing that clip, I will admit that my instinctual reaction was to feel that I’d have handled it violently had I been there, especially if that umbrella hit a kid or senior or some person with a disability (or me). I’m just being honest; as an alpha male who at one point in my old life was something of a pugilistic juvenile delinquent, I have no problem using my hands or even my legs if they’re needed. At the very least, I like to think I would have shielded any vulnerable people who were being threatened.
And perhaps I would have acted in a prudent or heroic fashion. But since I had a mini melee of my own on the Red Line on the day after Christmas, I’m not so sure that I should be the beneficiary of much doubt. I don’t exactly know what happened in my case, because instead of telling me how I offended them, some asshole sitting next to me just started punching me right in the arm and back and screaming. I know what you are thinking, and I assure you there was no awkward contact leading up to this. Considering the way they put their shopping bags up on the seat that I deserted as I scurried off, I’m guessing it was just a ploy to get more legroom.
Should my assailant be arrested? Jailed? I don’t think so; while I don’t condone violence against others, I can personally handle it up to a certain point and would hate to see somebody caught in the system for assaulting me, especially if I can get a column out of it. Also, between all of the bystanders who saw that I was just minding my business and any MBTA cameras perched near us, I didn’t have to worry about being accused of doing something that could have warranted a physical reaction. There is no bitterness here; if anything, I walked off that subway car having learned a big lesson.
There are a lot of dickheads in the world, and we can’t just go around knocking their teeth out, even when they deserve it. If the people in that viral video from NYC could manage to help one another without injuring the filthy lowlife causing havoc, then so can I, and so can you.
Happy New Year.
CHRIS FARAONE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.