Home CommentaryStudent Life Stories of the STM: A lesson in backhanded compliments

Stories of the STM: A lesson in backhanded compliments

by Jessica Romera October 20, 2015
Stories of the STM: A lesson in backhanded compliments

When you have your headphones on, it should be a sign not to approach someone

There are unwritten rules in this world: if you sneeze in public, you cover your face. If your dog poops in the street, you pick it up.

Using the bus or metro in Montreal has its own set of rules, too: if you’re standing on the escalators, you stand on the right side. If you see a pregnant woman or an elderly person standing, you offer them your seat. If you see someone with their face buried in 30,000 pages of notes because it’s midterm period, they have their headphones on and look like an extra on The Walking Dead because of sleep deprivation, maybe don’t strike up a conversation.

Sometimes we just get interrupted trying to go from point A to point B. Photo by Marie-Pierre Savard.

Sometimes we just get interrupted trying to go from point A to point B. Photo by Marie-Pierre Savard.

It was my first year of university, and I was beyond stressed out for a political science midterm. I had stayed up until 4 a.m., slept for roughly three hours and rushed out of my house to grab a black coffee with hopes to make my exam on time. I didn’t bother applying any makeup, I did not bother to change out of the sweater I had slept in and just wanted to review my notes on the metro, which would give me an extra 25 minutes to review. Awesome.

I hop on, tune out the rest of the world with the sweet, sweet sounds of The Strokes pumping through my headphones and skim through key terms only to be interrupted by a particularly aggressive tap on my shoulder. The tapper, a guy roughly my age, was signaling for me to take my headphones off.

“Yes?” I said as politely as possible, trying not to let my inner Godzilla get the better of me.

“I like your boots,” he said, pointing to my floral-print Doc Martens.

I thanked him and was about to put my headphones back on when he asked me what I was studying. I told him, to which he immediately followed up with, “it must be hard. It looks like you haven’t slept in days.”

Alright. Thanks, bud. I just love being reminded of the obnoxiously apparent dark circles around my eyes.

“Yeah haha … I’m kind of tired,” I said, trying to make it as obvious as possible—without being rude—that I needed to get back to studying. I guess the message just wasn’t clear so he fired off another round of questions. He asked me what school I went to, and of course, he also went to Concordia. I was trapped.

As if pointing out my tired appearance wasn’t enough, Casanova’s failing apprentice proceeded to ask me if I was stressed because he noticed my face was breaking out.

Okay, no. In what universe is it socially acceptable to say that to someone you don’t know? Do I say it to my sister or my best friend? Sure, but that’s different. To top it off, he asked me if I wanted to go for coffee later that week. “So many girls want to look good, but you clearly don’t care about your appearance. That’s pretty chill,” he added.

Uhm. What.

I had no idea how to respond. Luckily for me, we were a stop away from Concordia. I had two choices: A) I could hit him with some incredibly witty and sassy comeback, or, B) I could laugh it off. Incapable of processing words that early in the morning without any caffeine, I opted for C) instead: awkwardly mumble something and run away the second the metro doors opened. Another successful human interaction facilitated by the STM.

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