This afternoon in Sunnyside, Queens, while I was waiting to cross an intersection, a stranger in a sleek grey business suit, briefcase in hand, came up behind me on my left. He passed me by no more than a few inches then looked back at me. For a second I caught his eye. He seemed to be around my age, maybe a few years older.
Then he spit on me.
He didn’t spit towards the ground. No, this respectable looking man spit up into the air so that his spew landed squarely on my face and in my hair.
I was completely startled. It took my brain a few seconds to accept what had happened. The man just kept walking as I reached up to touch my forehead to confirm it was indeed covered in his saliva.
I hurried to catch up to him and said, “What the hell? You just spit on me!”
To which he replied with a great deal of scorn, “No I didn’t. You’re dreaming.”
His pace quickened and I kept up with him determined to put him in his place but nothing was coming to mind. So he continued berating me.
“Wow you must really want my attention. This is pathetic,” he snarled.
All I could do was mumble something about him being disgusting. “You’re the one who’s pathetic!” I finally blurted out.
“You’re really dying for my attention, aren’t you?” he said. Then he crossed the middle of the street to get away from me and yelled back, “So pathetic! Why don’t you get down on your knees while you’re at it?”
Every inch of my body, inside and out, was burning hot from my anger. I wanted so badly to run out into the road and push him into oncoming traffic but I didn’t. I didn’t cry, even though I really wanted to. I just kept walking. Took the 7 to Grand Central, washed my forehead in the public restroom and hopped a Metro North train home.