One of the library bus stops is in a relatively rough part of town. It’s not like there are drug deals going on outside the shops, or prostitutes at every corner – it’s just a bit more low-income, with a bigger share of recent immigrants than the rest of the city. It’s the stop where gloomy-faced B. nearly always shows up to collect her senior fiction and browse the Woman’s Weeklys. It’s where the bald English playwright comes to borrow from the Talking Book collection. It’s also where I got punched in the face this afternoon.
The kid, whom I’ll refer to as The Little Shit, is a skinny African kid who looks maybe twelve years old. He was hanging around the bus, but not coming in. Finally he did come on board the bus. The Little Shit asked to look at the soccer book which I had only just this minute checked in and shelved; I gave it to him. Then the other two people on the bus left. It was a couple of minutes before I had to leave this stop and drive the bus back to the main library. Then The Little Shit, who’d been polite though slightly strange, asked me about the CDs, etc. – normal stuff that kids on the bus always ask. Anyway, it turned out he didn’t have his library card and I couldn't wait for his sister to show up with it ‘cos it was already time to go.
And that’s when he socked me on the cheek with a strong right hook.
He scooted out the door before I could grab a dictionary and hurl it at him, and I’m embarrassed to say that I immediately lost my temper and called him a “little fucking bastard”. More than once, and really quite loudly the second time.
I was sooo angry. So angry that I did what I often do when I’m really angry. I cried (and that’s even more embarrassing – why couldn’t I express anger by simply beating him up?)
Back at the library, I told my boss, who really looked after me. She went with me to the police station where I gave a statement (and realised just how un-prose-like my speaking style really is), offered to do my Saturday shift tomorrow (of course I said yes, I’m a big softie but I’m not soft in the head) and made me promise to ring her tomorrow and assure her I’m okay. (She’s usually way too motherly for my liking, but this time I really appreciated it.) The rest of the library staff were really supportive too – I got lots of concerned murmurs and a second offer to do my Saturday shift tomorrow.
I came straight home instead of going to the pool – I needed to tell my boy about it and hear him offer to “kick the shit out of him” and indeed that made me feel a lot better.