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Lesson 25

                         Don't They Feel Ashamed of Themselves?

                                           Text A

    We were at the terminus and as a bus had just left, there were only the two of us. "We're sure to get good seats," I thought to myself confidently. But soon there was a crowd and nobody seemed to have the least intention of forming a line. In fact everybody was trying to crane forward and soon they were almost standing in the middle of the road so as to be in the best strategic position. 

I realized I had been over-optimistic about getting seats. So I said to Granny: "You get on in your own good time, Granny. I'll get on first to find a seat for you. " She was terifified at the idea : "Oh no , you don't ! Never mind about the seat. The important thing is to get on the bus. I'll never manage it by myself. "


    Looking at all the young men around us, I realized Granny was right. All the young men had intent faces just like soldiers ready to go into action. And when a bus did finally arrive, everybody rushed forward to meet it so as to be just in front of one of the doors, and people ran along with the bus, keeping as near to a door as possible until finally the bus came to a halt and the doors opened. 

The mad scramble that followed defies description. It was almost a free-for-all: people fought, jostled, pushed and elbowed their way forward, accompanied by shouts and curses all around. I had great difficulty in pushing Granny into the bus. I was really afraid that her old bones might crack Had a lot of difficulties in getting on myself too. People behin me pushed, people beside me elbowed, and people in front of m seemed to have formed a block of solid wall. 

Actually there wa plenty of roam in the bus. After all the seats had been taken people who got on just stood near the doorway and refused t move in, blocking the way for all those behind who had not ye got on. After what seemed to me to be an eternity of pushin and shouting, all the passengers managed to get on and th doors finally closed.

 I looked around, hoping somebody woul have the decency to give up his seat to Granny. But they a seemed to be glued to their seats, those "elegantly" dresse young men and ladies, looking happy and smug, apparentl proud of the fact that they were smart enough to be ahead c everybody else.


    After the bus started, Granny began to wobble on her feet and I had to hold her tight to prevent her from falling. "Will someone be kind enough to give the old lady a seat?" The conductress called out several times , meeting no response. Some seemed to have suddenly dozed off, and others seemed to be captivated by something very interesting outside the bus window.


In the end it was a middle-aged lady who stood up and gave Granny her seat. After thanking the lady, I helped Granny sit down and looked at those "elegant" young people again, trying to detect some traces of shame on their faces. But I found none.


                                            Text B

    Vietnam? Isn't that a shame? (Laughs softly. ) I saw a file on Vietnam, it showed the actual fighting. It looked ridiculous, just a bunch of kids. It was actually embarrassing to watch that, people were actually shooting and shouting. I saw Vietnam. .I looked at a map once. I'm concerned with Vietnam if my brother has to go, otherwise, no.


    My interest in life is me. It's a shame. I wish I could pick up a newspaper and read it. What I hear about things is heard from other people.
    I hope I'll make it. I think it's marriage, to someone who is successful. Highland Park, a couple of kids. I'm not too crazy about children, though. You're sitting in a room, and all of a sudden five kids'll come in and they'll go to another girl in the room. Same with dogs.


    I'm worried about the next couple of years. Here I'm putting all this time and feeling into this relationshp with Steven, and to have it not work out, it would be terrible. I don't know what I'd do. I'd probably find someone else and be just as happy.
    We have to have war, there's been wars through all the ages , apparently everyone gets enjoyment out of it. If we removed


this part from man, it would be boring. Otherwise things would be sort of dull.
    I love my building, I just love it. If I'm on a bus going to my mother's, I look at these people and get a nauseous feeling. On Michigan Avenue, I rospect them more. Home gives me a sick feeling.
    lt's a shame Blacks don't like me and children don't like me and dogs don't run up to me.

                               Additional Information

    Not long ago, a newspaper column caught my attention. It was the first time since I came to America that I read about an issue similar to the ones I often heard in China.
    It all started'from a letter sent to a newspaper column by a woman named Sally from Toronto, Canada. She told the columnist about her unpleasant experience on a bus ride in Canada. She was in the late stage of her pregnancy, with very swollen ankles. Howevei, people on the bus just pretended not to notice her.


    The responses to 5ally's letter, in the columnist's words were "staggering", and many of them were "unpredictable".
    Almost all the women readers, of course, gave their understanding and sympathy to Sally. A woman who signed her name as "L. M. " related Sally's experience with her own. She told the columnist that she had used public transportation for ll years in Detroit and never saw a man give his seat t0 a pregnant woman. She pointed out, however, women passengers did it all the time.

 As for her own experience, she once offered a seat to another pregnant woman when she herself was in her seventh month pregnancy. When the other woman sat down and said to L. M. , "Bless you for saving my life", the man sitting next to her "turned red as a tomato".


    Some people think that nowadays in America, a lot of men were raised with no manners. A woman reader from California wrote about what she once saw on a bus and implied that parents should be strict with their children's behavior. She was sitting behind a mother and a teenage son. An elderly lady got on the bus and stood near the boy, struggling to stay upright.


The boy was engrossed in his comic book when his mother poked him and ordered him to give his seat to that elderly woman. The Californian woman thought the mother was doing a fine job bringing up her son.


    Men readers, however, responded to Sally differently. Some of them have long resented at women's equal rights campaigns, and took this opportunity to get back at women. Here is what a man from Anchorage, Alaska wrote: This is for Sally in Toronto who figures she is entitled to g seat on the bus because she is seven months pregnant: Get real, lady, this is the '90s. You women have been screaming about equal rights , so now you've got them. Live with your equal rights and stop beefing.


    Another reader from Philadelphia claimed he learned his lesson trom an experience on a bus. This is what he wrote in his letter published in November, 1990: The last time I offered a woman a seat on the bus was in 1972 She glared at me and said. "Do I look helpless?" I replied, "No, but I thought . . . " She cut me off with, "Y'ou thought? The trouble with you chauvinists is that you don't think. Women today don't want a seat on a bus. They want equal pay. " She then launched into a women's liberation lecture. I was never so glad to get off a bus in my life.


    There are also those who are unhappy with life and hate the world in which they are living. Therefore, they used Sally's letter as an opportunity to speak out their mind. A person from Oakland does not think Sally deserves any sympathy. His reason is that overpopulation is a major problem in the universe today and there are other reasons that he dislikes this world. Therefore, he concludes that anyone who would bring a child into this "crazy, mixed-up" world is insane and deserves punishment.