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On my train ride

I’m very fortunate in that during my daily train commute, random people don’t attempt to talk to me. I’ve been commuting for over a year now, and I can only think of one person who has tried to have a conversation with me. Well, tonight, this older guy sat next to me and after a few minutes, he asked me if I was of a particular South Asian descent that he happened to be from. I am not, so I told him that. He said that I looked like I was [South Asian ethnicity]. Then he asked me where I was from. I lied and said, “Here. America.” And then he asked me if my parents were from America too. Lied again. I’m Middle Eastern and wasn’t born in America, but I did NOT want to have this discussion. Then he asked me for my name, and I said, “Sorry, I’m not comfortable sharing my name.” And for whatever fucking reason, I felt like an asshole for saying that. I HATE that I feel like an asshole because I KNOW I was not.

He mentioned that this was the first time he was visiting my particular city/area. I replied with, “Oh, that’s nice!” Then, he asked me if I studied in the city, and if so, what. So I just answered him, and I guess the fact that I kept staring back at my phone and wasn’t trying to make eye contact made him realize that I didn’t want to talk. I just felt so uncomfortable.

I’m...kinda upset with myself because I feel bad, and realistically, I know I didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t think I was rude, and even if I was, so what? I had a long day and was tired and didn’t want to speak to anyone. If someone else was writing this, I know the first thing I would say to them is that, “You have no obligation to hold a conversation with strangers just to seem polite.” Why can’t I listen to myself? Why do I feel bad or rude? I hate that women/girls are socialized this way. Ugh.

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ETA: I guess I just want to add this...one of the main reasons I feel bad is because I don’t want this dude to think that the reason I was not holding a conversation with him was because of his background. I just didn’t want him to think that I was being discriminatory or was put-off by his ethnicity.

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