Joan Rivers appeared in an episode of Louie, as herself and offered this advice after he quit a job:
I wish I could tell you it get's better but I can't because it doesn't. But you get better.
A few weeks ago I was riding home at night, tired from a long night at work, crossing though a quiet park. I noticed two people parting ways under the light from an apartment build (that a friend's family built! I always look at it). A minute later, I saw a flash as a man ran back towards the woman he had just left and I thought that's nice, that he misses her already . But as soon as I thought that, I realized he was wrapping her in a bear hug from behind and he was shouting at her, calling her names. I stopped, shouted, asked her if she was alright. He assured me that she was, which is a surefire sign something is wrong. I rode a little closer, u-lock near my hand though not sure if I could do anything with it, shouted, "no really," and he let her go. She walked away quickly, thanked me and I offered to walk her home. Somehow my voice stayed steady, even as I kept one eye behind us. She lived close by, with roommates, and he didn't return. I rode home.
Most of the time I don't think I am brave enough to do the right thing. I want to. But too often I am quiet when I need to speak up. Part of this is because I cry easily, when I get angry or sad or when I feel very strongly about something. I have a hard time telling stories about things I care about. I am afraid that if I speak up I will just cry and not sound strong but scared. And I am scared.
I rode home, knowing that I hadn't done much but I had done something, That sometimes just being a witness, a vocal witness is enough. Sometimes you are told to mind your business. But sometimes it is enough to break the spell and do something good. I talked to her on the way home, making sure she had a place to go, asking questions and actually reeling as if I sounded reassuring, not afraid. As if the adrenaline was doing all the good things it does.
The city where I live is not safer than where I lived ten or 15 years ago. There is not less injustice or violence. Shit is still hard, harder for many folks than for me. Some things have changed these past 10 years since I moved out of my hometown and into cities and into the world of seeing what is possible, good and bad. Slowly, slowly I am finding my voice.