About a week ago my friend Foxie mentioned on Facebook that she had been discriminated against by a bus driver in her home town of Adelaide, who refused to allow she and another woman to board a bus, citing that it was full, only for them to discover that it was not, and the driver was only letting thin passengers get on. On talking to Foxie about her experience, she spoke about the increasing level of fat hatred and discrimination she has seen on her regular commute on public transport in Adelaide.
As a public transport commuter myself, I have experienced my fair share of fat hatred and discrimination. It has affected me so much that I avoid catching trains here in Brisbane because it is so prevalent on them, and prefer to take the bus because at least with a driver on board and within earshot, abusive behaviour is curbed somewhat.
I asked Foxie if she would write a piece about her experiences for me to share here on Fat Heffalump, and she has kindly done so. So without any further ado, here is her piece on fat hatred and discrimination on public transport. Hopefully she will also update us on the situation in the comments below.
Trigger warning for fat hatred and abusive language.
My dear friend, Kath, asked me to write something about what I have experienced in the last three days and I decided that I would as I needed to vent. Writing my vents down has always helped and this subject has really made me angry.
It seems that I have been surrounded by inconsiderate, self-centred, downright nasty people in the last three days all with comments or actions being negatively made towards us fatties. Now most times I just let these things flow over me like water off a duck’s back but this week it has, quite frankly, pissed me off.
Firstly I was dumbstruck at the behaviour of a male aged in his late 30’s to early 40’s on my bus home on Monday who made an initial comment about how he couldn’t sit down because the “fat chick was taking up all the space and making others stand”. Now for starters she was sitting on a seat at the very front of the bus that only fits one person anyway as it’s not a full two-seater like the rest of them. Secondly, he did this loud enough for all those on the bus to hear. I was standing right at the back, hearing his voice so clearly, I actually thought he was standing just a couple of people down from me.
Now some people looked at each other with faces saying “oh my, I can’t believe he said that”, while others chuckled. The lady suddenly slumped her shoulders and looked out of the window. I felt for her, I really did. He continued to make fun of her size and even offered her a mars bar in case she was hungry. Thankfully, someone stood up in defense of her and told him he was a jerk and if there was a kingdom for (and I don’t like the word he used) cu**s, he would be the King. The King of Cu**ville. This made some people laugh and he shut up. Still I could see the lady was distraught but she never snapped back at and continued to ignore him to the best of her ability.
The next day, I got on the bus again and heeeellooo! He was back. This time he was within reach and he started on another lady, except this one was only a young pup, maybe late teens, early 20’s. He was with a work colleague this time and he was not amused at having to stand once again. I hadn’t seen him at first because we were all piling on like herded sheep and it wasn’t until he opened his mouth that I realised it was going to be one of those rides home again.
His first words: “Sorry mate, I’d offer you the seat here but you know, those fat girls are taking them all up again”. I looked at the young girl and saw her get all embarrassed and swore I saw her heart break. I felt my blood starting to boil. I bit my tongue to start with but he just went on and on and on. Finally I had a enough and said “I see the King of Cu**ville is back in town”. He just looked at me stunned and stumbled with any form of a comeback. So I continued….
“I really hope you don’t have a partner or children of your own that suddenly get sick and put on any weight because you’d disown them in a heartbeat wouldn’t you?” No answer. “And I reckon if you had a daughter who was of a larger size and she got picked on by a jerk like you on the bus, you wouldn’t try to defend her at all, you’d tell her to go eat some celery, exercise and harden up right?”. Again, no answer. “Seriously dude, grow up! It’s people like you that cause people to snap and not in a good way. You really should consider what you are going to say before you say it because you have no fracking idea WHY any of us are the way we are, you have no idea if it’s pure laziness and love of food, you don’t know whether it’s a medical condition, you don’t know shit! So shut the frack up before I put you on your ass!”. I got applauded by the majority of people at the back of the bus.
He looked at his work colleague for some back up and he just said “She’s right mate, you can be a real jerk sometimes and a lot of the time, rather offensive towards people.” That there was priceless because he suddenly had nobody and was stuck on the bus for the next 20 minutes surrounded by people that were going to smack him if he opened his trap again.
The young girl who had put her iPod on smiled at me and said “Thank you”, tears rolling down her cheeks. He had pissed me off and I couldn’t hold back any longer. I think if my husband had been on the bus with me he probably would of smacked him out before I had gotten the chance to say anything.
Today however, was the icing on the cake!
Today I came around the corner from my workplace to see my bus already at the bus stop and people had stopped piling on. There were a couple running towards him and so he waited. When another lady and I got there, he looked us up and down, looked in the rear view mirror and said “I’m sorry ladies, this bus is full and I can’t let anyone else come on.”. Now neither of us had looked at the amount of people on the bus as we ran towards it and therefore said “oh ok” and rejoined the queue.
Upon turning around and saying a couple of things to each other, we realised the bus was not full, in fact it wasn’t even half full of people standing and there was plenty of room for us to get on. We looked at each other, turned towards the door of the bus to see him let on more people, all of “petite” size. Now he had not asked anyone to move back or anything and he hadn’t closed the doors to move on because it was “full” as we had walked back to the queue.
Immediately the lady that had been declined access got her phone, pen and paper out and wrote the bus number and route down, along with a description of the driver and took a photo of the bus, clearly showing the room that was on there. She then phoned up the bus company to complain, stating to me that she would then hand the phone to me for my complaint to be given.
Other people in the line started talking about it and how they couldn’t believe what they had just witnessed and so when she’d finished with her complaint, she asked them if they’d help her by giving her their details if she needed further witnesses to the incident. 7 out of the 10 said they would and gave her their name and numbers. I put my complaint in and then we both got on the next bus. She had told the person on the other end that she wanted a phone call by 5pm tomorrow from management or she’d be taking the incident to the Minister for Transport, ACA and Today Tonight and then filing papers for discrimination against the driver and the company for not disciplining him or getting him counselled.
It was while talking to her on the bus that I discovered that she worked for a Law Firm with her specialty being discrimination. The first thought that came to mind was “he screwed with the wrong lady”. I then wondered if he would of done that if we were actually disabled with canes or a walking frame. I’m betting he wouldn’t have and made people move down instead so that we could get on as well.
I can tell you I was absolutely appalled by the whole affair and to have this sort of crap for three days straight pushed me over the edge.
Yes, I’m a fatty. Yes, there are medical reasons for why I am the way I am and I have learnt to be happy with who I am because in the end, it’s my life and if I am unhappy with it, then it’s up to me to do something about it. I don’t need nor want to hear from someone, who doesn’t know a thing about me, that I need to lose weight, that I am disgusting or anything of the sort. I’m human just like they are. I have feelings just like them and I have a right to be treated as an equal regardless of my size.
There is a very good chance my young daughter will have the same issues as me from puberty so I am working hard to help prevent that; to ensure that she has a life without the bullies and I will do everything in my power to protect her from the jerks like I have had to deal with these last three days.
Will the bullying of fatties ever end? I don’t think it will, but I can always hope and will stand up for those that can’t defend themselves against those that choose to be their own “King of Cu**ville”.
Here’s hoping I see that King again this week……
What are your experiences with public transport as a fat person? Do you find some situations are worse than others? Share in the comments.