Crossing a Line

by An Ordinary Man (the novel)

It is after closing time when the young woman gets into an Uber with her three friends.  They become lost in conversation in the back seat so she smiles at the driver and tells him she is drunk, and she is, but pleasantly so; quietly, almost thoughtfully (even if those thoughts are somewhat muddled). She is from Canada and tells about clearing customs where the lone agent, a man of advanced years, tells the same hoary joke to everyone as he carries out his duties; that he’s against marriage, whether it’s traditional or same-sex, but especially the latter because it’s the “same sex, over and over.”

I groan, politely, embarrassed for my not-that-much-older gender representative. “He crossed a line, didn’t he – telling me that joke?” she asks, and I agree; young women should not be exposed to off-color humor from a man old enough to be their grandfather (or anyone else they don’t want to hear it from).  But, I wonder, did she cross a line telling me he told that joke?

I certainly wasn’t offended, even though it called up images of her performing certain actions, repetitively.  Like so many things male/female, it’s hard to tell and harder to say.  She gave me a lovely smile at the end of the ride and thanked me for what she obviously did not realize was a privilege for me, having someone like her in my front seat.