I sat down next to him to see him furtively aiming his phone’s camera at the two women sitting across from us. They’re twenty or so, one in jeans and a tight patterned top, the other in black fishnets, a denim miniskirt, and a printed t-shirt with two men’s faces on it. I didn’t recognize the men on the shirt.
He’s in his early 30s, short, blond, not unattractive but suffering from a sort of hunchback, his right shoulder a good three inches higher than his left.
I saw him angling to get a better shot, of their breasts, of their legs, of their crotches. He noticed me, or at least realized he wasn’t invisible, and paged away from the camera app.
A moment later, he was glancing through the pictures he’d already snapped. It took me a second to realize that was what he was doing, so disembodied were the images he’d grabbed.
I had a rush of reactions – superior, judging, sympathetic. To him. To them. To all.
I contemplated saying, gently, “Dude, don’t do that.” I thought (much) better of it. People said that to me a few times, even kindly, and all it did was send me deep into a shame pit.
As he got off the train, I found myself feeling hopeful for him, wishing him peace. And as the women got off, two stations later, I wished them well.