Unsent Letter

Dear Irate Woman at the Bus Stop,

I understand your anger and fear.

Even in a city as safe and well-lit as Toronto there is a difference between a woman travelling alone after dark and a man doing the same thing.

It isn’t right and it sure as hell isn’t fair but there are things we as women think about in that situation that 99.999% men will never grok.

Trying to walk off the bus with several teenagers blocking your way must have intimidating I totally get that.

But I cannot help but wonder if your reaction to them would have been more polite if they were fellow Caucasians who wore khakis and button down shirts instead of baggy jeans and sweatshirts.

Maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference in the least.

Maybe you were having a bad day and were just as sarcastic and impatient with everyone else who got in your way.


I know I’m not an impartial party here. Those young men just reminded me so much of my brothers and the guys who lived in our neighbourhood growing up.

If my first impression is anything close to the truth, these aren’t “bad” kids by any stretch of the imagination.

Did you know I sat next to one of these young men on the bus? He was carrying a large duffel bag that blocked the aisle in front of us.

How did I convince him to move it when the bus arrived at my stop? I asked politely.

Before the last words curled out of my mouth he leapt out of his seat and grabbed the bag, apologizing for blocking the way. I smiled and thanked him. And that was that.

  • Race.
  • Culture.
  • Gender.
  • Socioeconomic status.
  • Age.

I’d be lying if I said these never get in the way of how we see one another. They definitely have influenced my past assumptions. But each day brings another opportunity to try again.

I can’t promise you that every person you meet will soften up with a little respect and compassion. Many do, though. After all it’s much more difficult to fight if only one person is willing to escalate the situation.


A Friend.

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