There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Friday, December 21, 2007

Assertiveness training

Do they still have assertiveness training classes today? Those were big in the 1970s at the dawn of the feminist movement as many women, trained to be docile and submissive, discovered they lacked the ability to assert their desires, needs and opinions.

The question occurred to me as I watched two women standing beside the bus in the mud on a street without sidewalks.

I'm reading a book about famed California politician Jesse Unruh. He was "Big Daddy" when the boys in the Legislature, far from home and family, were expected to play around and the young ladies on the staff were expected to play along. If nothing else, the book amply demonstrates the genesis of the feminist movement.

The meek young Asian lady on my bus clearly needs some of that assertiveness American women discovered in the '70s.

Today, the young Asian lady I wrote about the other day was joined by an Asian friend who also attends adult classes at Winterstein. They took a seat near the front of the bus.

When the bus crossed Hurley Way, the woman began watching out the window for the Amberwood stop while holding her hand near the stop request cord. She was frozen in anticipation.

I watch with my own anticipation from my perch in the first elevated row of seats in the back of the bus. The older woman who had helped her out the other day wasn't on the bus today.

As the bus lumbered down Morse toward the school, the Amberwood bus stop sign came into view. But instead of waiting until after the bus had passed the sign, the woman pulled the cord just feet in front of the sign.

"Stop requested," said the bus.

Stop delivered.

Wrong stop. What to do? And here is where the assertiveness training might have helped: "Oops, my bad. Next stop please."

But instead, the two Asian women looked at each other and then silently rose from their seats and walked to the side exit. They left the bus and stood by the side of the road, looking up the street to the school, each holding a bag of wrapped gifts for their teachers.

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