Search

What would Jessica do?





I’ve been considering getting a “WWJD” bracelet, but I think it would confuse people. Mine would mean “What would Jessica do?” The central character of “Murder She Wrote” is unflaggingly polite, takes guff from no one, and manages to be both kind and direct. She goes to the authorities when appropriate, but is never cowed by those with power. When faced with certain situations, I literally ask myself, “What would Jessica do?”


Recently I was on a Metro-North train when two boisterous men ran through the closing doors from different ends of the train, shouting to each other about how they had just made it. It takes a lot to get forty Manhattan-to-Westchester commuters to look up, but they managed it. They sat down, one man lowering his voice to a reasonable level, but the other continuing to talk very loudly ― very loudly by New York standards. At one point a woman demanded that he at least not swear if he was going to speak so loudly, which he did seem to try to accommodate. The woman next to me and I gave each other a look of annoyed comradery. A stop later he started making a joke that involved the word “queer.” I wasn’t sure where he was going, but I wasn’t going to wait to find out. I mustered the best of my inner Jessica, walked over to his seat, leaned over, looked him straight in the eye and quietly said, “Would you please keep your voice down.” He looked straight back and said, “No.” I said, still calmly and politely, “I have been listening to you for over an hour, and I don’t want to listen to you anymore.” He said, “No.” I said, “Thank you,” and walked back to my seat while he spoke loudly about how no one could tell him what to do, but in a rather increasingly sputtering, subsiding way. I went back to reading my book and did not look at him again. I had said what I had to say, the outcome was no longer my problem. I hid my smile as I rode the last two stops in blessed silence.


I hope it's what Jessica would have done.