General Non-Fiction posted March 14, 2019


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Confronting my own prejudice.

The Woman Who Sat on The Bridge.

by zeezeewriter

The author has placed a warning on this post for language.


She was fat and ugly. Her clothes were dirty and she smelled like an ashtray. If I had to guess, I'd figure her to be in her early forties. Whatever her age, her life was already over, she just hadn't stopped breathing yet. She was everything she was ever going to be - a woman who sits on a bridge all day and begs for spare change.

And I hated her. I loathed her. I loathed her because she was too lazy to even stand up and beg. She sat on a dirty blanket, read paperback novels, and smoked cigarettes. When someone walked by, she hoisted her empty soda cup and said in the most nauseating voice, "Got any spare Chaannggge?" She dragged out the last word until I thought my ears would bleed. Chaannggee. And she spoke as if my spare change was a burden to me and she was doing me a favor by taking it off my hands.

I wanted to tell her to stop smoking and use the money for food. I wanted to tell her to stop begging and go for help. Go to the Salvation Army. Or better yet: GO GET A FUCKING JOB.

You see, every time I saw her I was on my way to work. I had a job. A job I didn't particularly like. A job that left me feeling used and abused at the end of the day.

Eventually my thoughts turned mean. I wanted to tell her that I would give her a dollar if she would get up off her ass and do ten jumping-jacks. I wanted her to earn the dollar.

Other days I would fantasize about throwing her off the bridge, like so much garbage. I'd be doing the world a favor. One less drain on natural resources, one less non-productive mouth to feed.

I imagined she lived in a filthy apartment with some worthless man who screwed her every night, and then drove her to the bridge every morning so she could turn my stomach before breakfast. I imagined she had a kid or two or (God forbid) three.

I didn't even feel sorry for her snot-nosed kids sitting in their own excrement waiting for mommy to come home so they could have a piping hot meal of toast and peanut butter. No, I didn't feel sorry for them. I saw them as a perpetuation of beggars, an army of stupid people on the rise.

Occasionally I'd see a well dressed man hand her money and I wanted to slap him in the face and explain that giving her money was like feeding pigeons. The more you feed them, the more they shit on the bridge.

If she would just get a fucking job and pay her own way and stop having kids she couldn't take care of, my life would be so much better. I could quit thinking about her and hating her and wishing she were dead. Hell, if she would just move to another corner, my life would be better. Out of sight, out of mind.

But, the more I saw her the more I thought about her and the meaner my thoughts turned. She was everything wrong in the Universe. And it was her fault I was being a mean person. She was bringing it out in me. If not for her, I would not be confronted with my own ugliness.

The reality of the situation - she is not going away. She is not going to magically disappear to accommodate me. The reality - she can't get a job. She's mentally challenged. No one will hire her. She couldn't get a job cleaning toilets or digging a ditch. She couldn't even get a job as a door-stop or a paper weight. I wouldn't hire her and I don't know anyone who would. But yet she is here, living among us.

And now, years later, I wonder what there was about that woman that made me hate her so much. How could I be so resentful of such a pathetic creature? The most harm she'd done to me was to be an eyesore on the landscape. Yet, I managed to despise her, like I despised the pigeons.

I guess what I really wanted from her was for her to appreciate eating on my dime and to get off the bridge and stay out of my sight. Is that asking too much?

See, it's easy to hate someone like the lady on the bridge. It's easy to hate someone further down on the economic food chain. They are the yard stick on which I can measure my superiority. I find it much easier to love rich, beautiful people. People who might look down on me with kindness, and (hopefully) won't see me as a pigeon, pecking my way through life.



True story. I had to write about it in order to understand a part of me that was as ugly as her life.
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