For the first half of my four years at UNM I didn't have a car. This meant that I solely relied on public transportation and rides from friends. Riding the city bus on the daily, you get to see some strange things, especially on the across town route I had to take. This is not a story about the strangeness on the city bus, perhaps another time, but rather a tale of something I let happen.
You start seeing the same people, if you ride the bus regularly enough. You learn their stops, wonder if they are home sick, when they don't get on that day, those types of things.
One bus regular sticks out in particular. He was a very nice gentleman; as soon as he got on the bus he would engage the bus driver. He would also make friendly conversation to those around him, once he picked his seat. Oh and he was blind. I know this because he carried around a white cane, and would ask the bus driver to tell him when we got to his stop so that he could get off.
So one day, this man, like every other time, gets on bus and tells the bus driver where he needs to get off. He then proceeds to make his way to a seat, using his cane to suss out an empty one. Thinking he has found one, he proceeds to sit down—normal. But, somehow his cane had missed my feet in the search. The empty seat that he thinks he has found is actually occupied, by me. Not knowing what to say to warn this man, I stay silent, resulting in a nonconsensual (both parties) lap-sitting situation. Of course, he immediately realized what happened, apologized and found another seat.
Let's just take a beat, and really delve into this situation. A bus full of people, including me, saw a friendly blind man get on the bus, search for a seat amongst the unusually crowded seats, thought he found one and then sat in a stranger's lap. And we all did nothing to prevent this. I realize this is my fault, more than the other passenger's, but nobody spoke up. We let this happen.
Lesson learned. Don't be afraid to speak up, and if you see something, say something.