When Sartre wrote that hell was other people, the American interstate highway system had not yet been built. When he wrote it, no one had ever pulled over from hours of driving to sit in a stall whose door covered from the shin to the neck of an average sized person. And no one had ever sat in that stall and made eye contact with an older gentleman standing at a urinal, only to have him break it by groaning, leaning pained against the wall, trying to force his prostate to work.
No one had ever had to run into the family bathroom because the stalls were full and have a woman walk in at just the wrong moment. To hear her still talking to someone outside. To hear her voice that was warmth and honey. The kind that made you think of the morning. And to have that voice stop short as it mixed with the sounds of shit in a dank bathroom. To see her feet and ankles freeze like a deer that’s heard a stick break. Then to see her turn and leave at a pace that’s too controlled to mean she’s not holding back a run.
When Sartre wrote that, no one had yet had to leave that bathroom, where the sound of her voice stopping short would stay in the dirt of those walls, and no one had to walk back to their car, hoping not to see those feet or ankles again, and then see them.