It was a routine day. A woman and man I recognized as a couple, quietly boarded the bus and took a seat together in back. Several stops later a woman, I also recognized, boarded and quickly chose a seat near the front. In process of taking her seat she hurriedly glimpsed through the cabin to discover the man and woman who had previously boarded. Visibly disturbed she took her seat mumbling under her breath. Soon, however, she could no longer hold her feelings.

” You lying S**of-a-B****,” she screamed as she rose from her seat and turned toward the couple, “So that’s the  b**** you’re with.” She paused to gather steam taking advantage of the sequestered aduience many of whom had also been objects or perpetrators of similar tirades. “He left me for that b****,” she continued, at the top of her lungs. And, if it was not already clear what had occurred, she yelled, “He – is – my – husband and he left me for that B**** .”

 The air hung red in anxious expectation. Riders squirmed or sank deeper into their cell phones and earbuds keeping one eye alert to evade any airborne objects. It was a moment worthy of Homeland Security. A situation that most drivers hope to avoid, but, like it or not, a moment that occasionally breaks out among people whose lives have been intertwine for generations. 

In addressing what I call such Manic Moments, I have learned to rely on gentle firmness. I driver wants to clearly direct the perpetrator to regard others who are collateral witnesses and are attempting to reach their chosen destination in the calmness of routine safety. So now it was my turn.

“Ma’am, I can tell that it hurts, but this is inappropriate for the bus,” I reminded. “You will need to take your seat quietly.”

” That lying SOB left me and f***** her!  I will not be quiet,” her full fury exploded.

” Ma’am, you have a choice, sit down and be quiet or leave the bus. (I paused but received no immediate compliance)  I am stopping,” I said louder.

Obviously wanting to tear his hair out by its roots, the lady decided to heed my warning, to reach her destination. She took her seat. She simmered in troubled silence occasionally casting fiery glances over her shoulder at the couple, but less animated. 

Eventually, we came to her stop and she fumed off the bus to the sidewalk where she let him know once again how she felt as we drove away. The couple sat in sheepish quietude eyes fixed on the floor beneath them.

This dramatic outburst was enough to shake the relative calm of passengers on their way to work or returning to the solitude of home. Subsequently, I have come to discover many could have identified with the woman’s fury, but, in the setting or moment were uncomfortable with her indiscretion.

It is easy to forget when our pressing agenda may not always be greeted sympathetically by others who may otherwise feel our pain. It is difficult to remember in times of great personal stress that we are the ones experiencing the feelings and not others around us.

The woman had obviously been hurt badly by the behavior of the coupled trapped in the back of the bus and wanted to expose the perpetrators without regard for the needs of those in her wake or, frankly, for her own welfare. In public, there are often other predators witnessing ones emotional vulnerability.

One is seldom hurt by discretion.