Highly Sensitive

As I got on the BART car, she was sitting on one of the side-facing bench seats, reading a book. Her bike was blocking a second seat. I asked if she’d mind moving the bicycle so I could sit down. She gave me a blank stare and moved the bike about four inches so I could squeeze past. Another passenger eyed the seat next to me, which the bike still blocked. He didn’t say anything, just gave her a look. She answered with the blank stare and moved the bike a few inches so he could sit. When the train left the station, the bike slid back into my seatmate’s legs. Bike-woman didn’t notice–she was alternately reading her book and fumbling with a pack of Kleenex and blowing her nose and stowing the used snot-wipes in a little basket on the bike. Then she noticed her bike was gouging into her fellow passenger’s shins. She pulled it back toward her so that now it was partially blocking the door.

When she went back to her book, I saw the title: “The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You.”

(Oh, and it turns out the highly sensitive thing is a pop-psych franchise. Here’s a self-test if you’re wondering if you have what it takes to be a potential bicycle-toting BART blockhead: Are you highly highly sensitive?)

14 Replies to “Highly Sensitive”

  1. I occasionally see this on the subway. Another good one is seeing people leave their fast-food wrappers and cups on the trains. I chalk it up to the age of entitlement. As Ann knows I detest the self-help industry…whinge.

  2. Years ago, I saw a gentleman of equatorial origins challenged by a corporate type suburban guy for dropping the bones from his dinner on the subway car floor. Rather than acting entitled, he took the position of Economic Stimulation By Job Creation: “If I didn’t make a mess, the clean-up guy would have nothing to clean up!” He wasn’t joking. Anyway….only scored a 12 on The Precious-o-meter. Though I would like to claim a campsite on Sensitivity High Ground by revealing I still get misty-fied by both the poetry of Nipsey Russell AND the songs of Orrin Hatch.

  3. Looks like you were witnessing a personal awakening. Sometimes there are moments when something speaks to us so deeply the rest of the world disappears. This book is that for many people from what I hear. Thanks for writing about this moment. In the long term, this awakening will likely create a person who is much more loving, thoughtful, and aware of others than she could have possibly been before reading that book.

  4. Looks like you were witnessing a personal awakening. Sometimes there are moments when something speaks to us so deeply the rest of the world disappears. This book is that for many people from what I hear. Thanks for writing about this moment. In the long term, this awakening will likely create a person who is much more loving, thoughtful, and aware of others than she could have possibly been before reading that book.

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