Public Cruxifiction

Last night my girlfriend (I haven’t decided on her nom de blog yet.) and I were watching Anderson Cooper when we saw something that cracked us up – Train Lady!

If you’re not aware of this story, a young woman had a meltdown after a train conductor asked her to stop using profanity while talking on her cell phone. The whole thing was caught on video by a passenger with a cell phone camera. Now the actual video is supposed to be fifteen minutes long, but only two minutes have been shown on sites like Gawker. And it’s pretty damning. The young woman tells the conductor, “Excuse me, do you know what schools I’ve been to and how well-educated I am?” And that’s what pissed people off. Like educated people don’t act like idiots. Please. As one Internet wag stated, “Just look at Congress.”

This incident happened about a month ago. After the video went viral, the young woman tried to engage to services of a PR firm to help rehabilitate her image. That was dumb. She should have let the Internet hoopla die down, as it always does, or just get out in front of things and say, “I was a raging idiot that day. I apologize for my crazy behavior.” I think that would have gone a long way towards ending her troubles. But when Anderson Cooper rips you a new one on national TV, that’s bad.

I will admit I took voyeuristic glee in watching that video. “What a dipshit,” I said to my girlfriend. “ Who cares how educated she is?” And when the video shows the woman asking for her money back and for the conductor to “stop the train,” I was annoyed by her entitled attitude. After chuckling about the whole affair we went to bed. But when I woke up the next day, I felt guilt tugging at my conscience.

Every single one of us, especially me, has acted like a complete and utter asshole. That’s part and parcel of being human. None of us is a saint. And now, with the Internet, every stupid thing we do has the potential to become a worldwide Internet phenomenon. And that’s a very bad thing. As I read through the comments on various websites, I was alarmed to see that the young woman was accused of racism and called a “cunt.” Someone even wrote that the young woman is in danger of losing her job. People love watching the misery of others. I’m guilty of it too. But ask yourself, if it were you, would you want your stupidity blasted all over the world? Do you want to be publicly crucified? I think not. As the Golden Rule says, “Treat others as you would want them to treat you.” And I think videotaping people freaking and putting it on You Tube is a bad thing. When billions of people have the potential to say horrible things about you with relative anonymity and impunity, we’ve got a problem.

Just look at young girls who have naked pictures taken of them by a shitty boyfriends and blasted all over their high school and the world. If some guy did that to my daughter I’d want to shove that cell phone up his ass. Some fathers would beat him. I’m not advocating violence, mind you, but I understand the impulse. And look at that poor college boy that committed suicide after some of his classmates filmed him in a sexual act with another man and outed him online. When these things happen they are met with outrage. But when an average person’s bad day in shown on You Tube, many of those same people will line up to nail them to the cross. I’m not defending this young woman’s comments. But I am defending her right to not have a brief slice of her life screw up the rest of it. And if train lady killed herself over this mess we’d all be taking a long look in the mirror.

Besides, we have more important things to worry about. Police officers are now starting to arrest people who videotape their activities. That is supremely fucked up. Like police state fucked up. Cops are allowed to have a bad day, but not in the performance of their duties. When they use their authority improperly the public has a right to see it. That’s what we should be getting upset about. Anderson Cooper needs to focus on that like a laser beam. Keep them honest buddy. “Train Lady” is a waste of time.

And Keith Olberrman singled out train lady for his “worst person in the world” segment! Are you kidding me? That Serbian general who slaughtered thousands of men and boys in front of their mothers, wives and daughters is a “worst person in the world.” We’ve got a debt crisis, wars without end, vets killing themselves and bankers who tanked the world economy. And you’re wasting time on a powerless woman? Speak to power. Go after people who can fight back. You’ve done it before Keith.

That woman was a dope. But so are we. Shame on the guy who took the video. Shame on the websites that showed it and the news people who gloated over it. Shame on me. Shame on all of us.

37 thoughts on “Public Cruxifiction”

  1. conservativescifi says:

    I absolutely agree. As a reasonably decent adult, I would not want my pre-teen self to define me. I wasn’t wild, I wasn’t even mean, but I could be really jerky, especially to my parents.

    I also agree with you that this could be anyone, on any given day.

  2. Fred says:

    I agree with you to some degree.

    That said, you’re in public; you have no privacy specially these days.Recognizing this all of us should be supremely careful not to act like a total absolute and utter douche.

    The conductor’s behavior proved she was by far more educated than this fucking self-entitled twat.

    You know what? I’ll take all my first point back. Let me say this with proper emphasis: FUCK HER! People like this bitch make the world a shitty place so let’s humiliate the shit out of them. She wants to be a bitch, she should be slapped like a bitch on interwebs.

    It’s only fair.

  3. glenn says:

    Nice. You hit the nail on the head.

  4. CHH says:

    I do agree with what you are saying to a point but I also have to mention a flip side to this. Most of us know that this happens, we live in an internet & cell phone age. A similar situation was on a kids’ show(iCarly) just the other night. Surely we all realize now that this happens.

    Maybe what needs to change is us – we should pay closer attention to how we act in public. The local bus or train is not your living room neither is the street you are currently walking down. When in public you are being watched and possibly recorded by others or by businesses. Behave accordingly and quit airing your dirty laundry where everyone can see. If everyone would quit acting like we no longer have to have any self-control the world would be a better place.

    Steve: True, but we shouldn’t need to fear the eye of thousands of “Little” Brothers.

  5. samantha says:

    i’m sure you’re aware that keith olbermann’s worst persons’ segment has always been entirely hyperbolic, right? certainly he’s not a fan of the people he’s lambasting, but he’s said in interviews himself that he never thinks these people are LITERALLY the worst people in the world. and that was kind of the point.

    i will go on to say that this point has almost nothing to do with the overall point of your piece that i completely agree with.

  6. guru says:

    Keith can go after O’Reilly, Hannity and CEOs all he wants. I understand the hyperbolic nature of his rants. But if it was you on the receiving end?

  7. Jesusita says:

    I disagree with what you are comparing this woman to. Taking pictures with someone you trust (boyfriend, husband, etc.) means you feel you have a right to privacy with those pictures. Having sex in your room where you don’t know you’re being videotaped means you also feel you have a right to privacy in whatever you are doing (having sex or writing a paper). Having a temper tantrum on a train where you know you are in a public place and you know that other people can see you means you are leaving yourself open to being taped, etc. That’s your choice. The difference here is the right to privacy vs. public performance.

    Whether you know you are being filmed in public matters not, because you definitely know you are in public and being observed by the general population, which consists of any person around you. Being filmed in your bedroom or the privacy of your house and then having that sent out without your permission is definitely wrong. The other? You already gave a public performance to an unknown number of people, so what do several thousand more on the internet matter?

    Steve: Legally you have no right to privacy in public. But all the time? Let’s think about that. Does that mean it is okay for the police to videotape everyone walking on the street as they do in the UK and NYC? How about cops who are arresting people for video taping them? They are in public too. Why do should they get privacy and we do not? Scary. And some people question the value of such surveillance as a deterrent.

    Yes, when you flip out in public everyone in the vicinity sees it. But should that “vicinity” always be the world? We can get all legalistic about this, but my answer is no. There’s a question of decency involved here. Just because we can do a thing does not mean we should do that thing. What if a person videotaped you crying in public and put it on You Tube? Kissing someone other than your spouse on the street? Having a heart attack? Should that be for public consumption? Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I think that is wrong.

  8. Dave Trowbridge says:

    The Talmud asks, “Why is gossip like a three-pronged tongue? Because it kills three people: The person who says it, the person who listens to it, and the person about whom it is said.”

  9. calbear says:

    Olbermann has made it clear that the “worst person” segment isn’t an attempt to find who is literally the world’s worst. Just someone he doesn’t like who springs to mind. (The fact that it’s often his more successful Fox News counterpart pretty much tells you who’s living in his head rent-free.)

    Anyway, it sounds like the Train Lady never heard of the Streisand Effect. But, yeah, there is something a little Big Brother-ish about Internet vigilantism. And when cable news hosts climb aboard, well… I thought journalism was supposed to be about the weak holding the powerful to account, not the powerful holding the weak to account. In any event, Olbermann should be the last to criticize someone whose greatest sins are saying “do you know what schools I’ve been to and how well-educated I am?” and being a pompous jerk. Perhaps he doesn’t like competition from amateurs.

  10. Miss Capri says:

    Except for a couple of f-bombs in your article, it’s absolutely excellent. I agree with you. Although, I honestly don’t feel sympathy for people who act stupid in public, any more than those who post videos of themselves on Facebook of their drunken parties and then whine about getting fired or suspended because they pulled a sickie. I particularly don’t feel sorry for Hermon Raju, because she said this negative attention, which, she brought on herself, was like being ‘raped’ by the internet – EXCUSE ME – NO! That is a grievous insult toward anybody who has really suffered the trauma of rape or any sexual or violent assault! Her phone conversation was not ‘private’ as she yelled it was on the video, she was on a public commuter train. She could’ve handled things much better and chose not to. Unfortunately, at the worst time, and unfortunately for her, the ramifications are severe. It is not a pretty part of human nature to laugh at this stuff, but when people are such brats, sometimes I think we laugh just so we won’t punch something out of irritation – and – we also laugh because we ourselves have all done stupid things we’re not proud of. thank goodness most of us haven’t become viral videos on Youtube, but you just never know, it could happen. If anything, this is a tale of caution to be careful of how you act in public. And we are right to be outraged by real bullying, and police corruption, brutality, and terrorism. I applaud those points in your post in particular.

  11. omcdurham says:

    If you’re going to act like an asshole in public, be prepared for the repercussions. I was taught this at a young age, before TOUCH-TONE phones. People who are as “educated” as Train Lady ought to know that public displays of idiocy are fair game, and that bragging about said “education” not only makes you look like a self-important cretin, but leaves that person open to harsh ridicule.
    I don’t condone ruining a person’s life by publishing “private” moments out of spite or revenge. That is just many levels of wrong.

  12. Sheri says:

    I didn’t think of this POV. I agree, that woman has enough issues w/o being publically BBQ’d. I hope to NEVER see myself on a video published w/o my permission. That’s just bad karma on the person who published it! Thanks for the eye-opener. I appreciate it.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    I disagree. I think the more this type of behavior is publicized, the less of it we will see. I admit, I live in a somewhat insulated world here in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am surrounded by gentile, polite (albeit racist and homophobic) people. I have never witnessed nor participated in such a rampage as that woman demonstrated. But let’s face it. In the world we live in, videotaping is par for the course. For better or for worse.

    And…welcome back, Waiter. It’s so good to read your words again.


  14. thatgirl says:

    So uh… I’m going to touch on something completely off-topic to everyone else’s post; I thought “Alicia” was your girlfriend? 🙂

  15. elizabeth says:

    I don’t want to say that you’re absolutely right, this is ridiculous, etc., because even though it is, I believe that would be hypocritical of me. While I agree with the comment above, I also agree that people always love a good person to make fun of, even nationally, myself included. I hope that people will learn to live and let live, and to learn from this woman’s mistake without publicly humiliating her.

  16. Tom says:

    I don’t totally agree. I think the potential to experience this fate keeps us on our toes in public and reminds us not to behave unreasonably.

  17. tallmanj says:

    Yes, but how big a tip did she leave?

  18. Miss Capri says:

    It always seems the people who feel the need to boast and brag about how well educated they are, are jerks to begin with. I see this online all the time, and have an aunt who also sees herself as better educated than anyone else, she looks down on people and hoists herself up on a pedestal, and is one of these people who cries to get her own way, uses her fake illnesses to get people catering to her every bidding, and when you don’t play along with her, she gets really, really nasty. Hermon reminds me of her. These people are what I like to call, their own worst enemy. They bring on their own problems, and are so galling that sometimes you just laugh so you won’t explode at them. we’ll never know how many people Hermon Raju secretly annoyed all to heck on that train, but I’ll bet it was quite a few.

  19. Bob Dobbs says:

    It’s a complex issue. Your charity does you credit. But we are talking about what is, in some cases, a sea change in the way society functions.

    Once upon a time, nearly everyone lived in small communities, and everybody knew you. And everything you did. You watched yourself, if you had pretensions to respectability. You had to, or the small minds of the small town might hang a label on you that you could never remove. Something like Train Girl’s tirade would never, ever have been forgotten. People watched their manners. In part, out of fear.

    Then we moved to big cities — and then, multiple big cities, as we became more mobile. It became much easier to dump a load of bile on some functionary and be fairly sure no one there knew you or would ever see you again. And as society stratified, having money and privilege meant that even if they did know you, their knowledge wouldn’t affect your standing in the least — with anyone who mattered to you.

    Yes, the new way meant that one bad day wouldn’t ruin your reputation, and that’s good. But it also meant that bullies could out without consequence, again and again, and that’s bad. Guru, you know if anyone knows.

    And now, thanks to the internet and the new video gossips, old time, small-town America is back with all the backbiting and schadenfreude and potential for one small gaffe turning into a life-souring experience. And that’s bad. But I also remember a senator who cried an ethic slur at a dark-skinned man who was videotaping him — and lost his seat. I remember his estranged sister describing him as a bully.

    Is this good? Is this bad? Should people having a bad day be ostracized? Should people who habitually misbehave be protected? Everything works both ways, and I don’t know the answer.

    Even cops. In the examples you raised, cops were seizing video equipment that might show them in a bad light. But out here on the coast, some cops are eager to get body cams that they can run during citizen interactions, because if they’re actually doing the right thing, a suspect cannot slur them with lies about mistreatment.

    It works both ways. Everything works both ways. And we shall see what the outcome is.

  20. xKitchen Staff says:

    A lot of good points coming up here.

    People for some reason think that their public cell phone conversations are taking place in isolation. One can hear the most amazingly private conversations in public, and you’ll surely get an ugly stare or worse if they catch on that you can hear them.

    I think the ever-seeing-eye may act as a preventitive to public @ssholery. People currently feel that they can act as petulent jerks with no fallout. Perhaps the ubiquitous cell phone cam may give people a reason (albeit the wrong one) to act civilized in public.
    However, this can slippery-slope to Big-Brotherish government survailence, is there an acceptable middle-ground? I don’t know.

    I also disagree with your comparison of public vs. private videotaping of activity. I think Jesusita (above) put it best. Two VERY different things.

    As for Olberman, you’re right. He has no perspective whatsoever.

    I’ll be interested to see where else this discussion goes.

  21. Mell says:

    She wasn’t sorry until she was shamed.

  22. Weird1Nessa says:

    I agree to a degree. One should not celebrate on another’s faultings; however, one should respect other’s space. On a train, bus, airplane, dining area, etc., BE RESPECTFUL of those around you. PERIOD.

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  25. Dennis says:

    The trouble isn’t that she is being taped the trouble is that we as a society have lost all civility towards each other. It certainly didn’t start with politics but watch what happens in Washington DC there are hundreds of partisan examples everyday.

    If I disagree with you I will tell you where I disagree and why. I won’t question your patriotism.

    I am no touchy feely liberal guy but I am always respectful to others and I expect the same treatment.

    Anyway.. if this woman gets fired with her education she shouldn’t have trouble finding a new job.

  26. Alex says:

    Ohhh the train chick. I kinda agree with a previous commenter who said that seeing this type of attitude go down will make others think twice about ever going off in a similar manner. We all know the train chick was a bit psycho, slightly deranged….now how do we learn from it?
    Take it with a grain of salt. Like you said..could be a bad day, she could have forgotten her meds, or maybe it was that time of the month…you know, Flag Day.

  27. chickenfog says:

    No one thinks it’s dickish that someone filmed her and put her on Youtube? Huh. Her assholish behaviour is up for crits, but not the guy who filmed her? “Behave in public” cuts both ways: don’t film strangers and post their shit.

  28. CraigT says:

    While I somewhat agree that a single bad day being caught on tape should nto be someone’s defining moment I have to disagree that Train Lady was having a single bad day.
    In her letter to the PR firms she is self absorbed and arrogant enough to compare her situation to being raped. And this was not an angry moment or situation. this was in a proffessional correspondance. Something she had time to look over and edit before she sent it out.
    If someone caught our entrepid Guru on a cell phone having a hissy fit i owuld be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. however if he posted a hate filled, entitled rant on his blog I would feel justified in judging him by it.

  29. Instinct says:

    Pubic shaming used to be a way to get people to act the right way in society, how is this not a form of public shaming? When you are out in the world it is YOUR responsibility to control your own actions.

    Is the reaction to what she did over the top? Sure, but so was her reaction in the first place. Civility in society never existed in the first place, it only existed when people were armed and able to defend themselves, then politeness was in order to keep the peace.

    As far as police arresting someone for videotaping them, in most states it is still legal for you to film them and the arrests are illegal. Of course, there are a few states that have gone the route of passing laws against it – which is moronic.

    Finally, why in the hell are you watching that raging douche Olbermann? Talk about scraping the bottom of the TV barrel!

  30. Fredo says:

    Waiter you really need to look in the mirror. You’re entire blog USED to be about pointing out the asses in society that annoyed you while doing your job. This blog is filled with your anecdotes that show people in a less than flattering light.

  31. Rob says:

    Thought about Steve D’s take on it. And in a way, he’s right: People and their bad behavior are not here for our entertainment.
    Remember how much fun people had watching “to Catch a Predator” with Chris Hanson catching would be purveyors of underage redhanded, and watching them be arrested. But we didn’t think about the collateral damage of this; how we would feel if it was our father, husband, brother or son being publicly exposed. And if we did, we didn’t care. People watched and enjoyed it, so they aired it again. But the distasteful part of that is my catchphrase,” These men and their wrongdoing are not here for our entertainment” You might not care if one of the perverts killed themselves, but i’m sure you would care plenty if his wife or child committed suicide!
    Now on the other hand, when we are out in public, we have no expectation of privacy. And our behavior in public give massive insight into our character, especially if we think no one is watching.
    As a society, we have become a lot more callous, a lot more rude and a lot less caring for the feelings of others. And I think we are getting sick of it. This “train lady” absolutely deserved to be put in her place, and if a good dose of public humiliation did the trick, so be it. There is no excuse in the world, not a bad day, nothing that could justify that kind of behavior. And Again, I reiterate, when we are in public, especially when we are creating a scene, we have no expectation of privacy. Unfortunately, the well deserved public humiliation did not do the trick. She showed not the least remorse when she revisited the incident.
    As people, we are defined by what we do. And now, this defines her. As she mad her bed, in her bed now she must lie.
    Instead of hiring a PR firm to improve her image, her image would have been much more improved by engaging in something that would offset her gross sense of entitlement, some charitable work, some gesture of humility and humanity. But from what I have seen I doubt that she has even that to her credit.

  32. Jeff says:

    Shame is something that is in very short supply in this country and I suppose this lady is finding out what it is for the very first time in her life. It’s unfortunate for her that some lessons must be learned the hard way.

    But “shame on the guy who took the video”? You are off base my friend. When we are in public, we are expected to maintain a certain level of decorum, and given that everyone with a cell phone also has a camera, throwing a tantrum in public carries the risk of humiliation that only a shameless self-absorbed twit would ignore.

    I’m surprised that you would cut this lady any slack given how she treated the conductor. I have no doubt she treats her waiters and waitresses with the very same disdain, and we all know a persons ‘real’ character is judged by the way they treat their waiter.

  33. brando says:

    I think you’re sort of inverting the object and the subject. But as far as Keith goes, I usually understood what he says as literal. He might actually be insane.

  34. Raiders757 says:

    This article brought up some great points, and they are well taken. Still, I can’t say that I completely agree. This woman was acting like a snooty self entitled bitch in a public environment. I am not judging her by saying that, as I don’t personally know her. I’m just saying that’s how she came across during that brief moment in time. She could possibly be a very nice person who was having a bad day, but that in no way exonerates her actions.

    She got what she deserved, and if she’s as educated as she claims to be, she’ll have learned her lesson and move on with her life. To be exact, we all should learn from her lesson.

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  37. Trbobitch says:

    “We’ve got a debt crisis, wars without end, vets killing themselves and bankers who tanked the world economy”

    Amen. I used to read your blog on a regular basis. It’s probably been about 5 or 6 years since I’ve read it, when I just thought about it today 🙂 Still lovin it.

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  40. Robert Sullivan says:

    Loved your book, glad to find the web site, please continue to make the world a better place one waiter rant at a time. It is web sites like yours that help counteract the insanity, dullness and unreality that proliferates on the morning news.

    To borrow another Beavis & Butthead reference (yes, I consider B&B an important commentary on the state of our nation), picture the episode where they are watching the morning news. Bryant Gumbel mindlessly saying “I’m doing wonderful, how was your morning?” to his co-hosts. So ridiculous stories like this Train Lady are projected across the world, meanwhile, hello, important stuff is happening, but that is given the 5 second treatment.

    We all do our little part and who knows?

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