Guest Blogger Wednesday: Showdown on the 45…

If you read Greg’s blog, you’re most likely a Muni Person. I would preface my tale with lots of facts regarding my public transit street cred, but let’s just say I’m a Muni Girl. I love Muni. Yes, love. It’s a rather co-dependent relationship …
Friday. Rush hour. The 45 mid-Chinatown. I have a seat (w00t) and I believe I was reading -Perez Hilton on my iPhone- Harper’s. Minding my own business as usual. The bus, of course, is packed, but civil. Then, a 40ish white man gets on the back, where I’m sitting. He doesn’t look particularly homeless or smell too foul, but has something of a transient look, wearing all dark colors and carrying a black duffel bag. I didn’t notice him until he starts yelling at a couple of Chinese moms and their kids,
“Children shouldn’t be eating on the bus! It’s illegal! And they’re being violent!”
Everyone else’s collective reaction was something along the lines of “Whaaa?” I mean, the kids were eating an after-school snack or something. Fritos maybe. It’s not like they had a picnic blanket out. As for violence, they might have been horsing around a bit, being wiggly and squirmy in their seats. Because, you know, that’s what kids do.
But this guy was having none of it. He continues to yell at and berate the moms until one of them told him to “Be quiet and sit down.”
“No! I won’t sit down. You should make your kids stop eating. It’s illegal.” Then he continues,
“It’s not because you’re Chinese! I like Chinese! I love Chinatown.” Everyone rolls their eyes. “But you can’t have fucking violent children eating on the bus!”
“Hey! Will you just sit down and shut up?!” Offers a 20-something Marina Girl in the back, getting pissed that no one was stopping this guy from yelling at these kids.
“Who are you? You just got off your shift at the strip club? With all that makeup? You like being a hooker?” The smell of liquor on the asshole’s breath starts to waft my way. He proceeds to go on about Jesus and some other totally unrelated things, finally spitting at the girl’s feet and calling her a whore and a cunt. Which is where I got fed up. She called for the driver to come back.

The bus had not moved from the stop during this entire time. Nothing happened and she seemed to give up while the asshole continues to berate her.
I stood up and yelled with my hands cupped around my mouth that we needed the driver in the back, NOW. I can yell. The bus goes completely silent except for the guy who’s still yelling and cussing. Adrenaline completely rushed through my body as he turns to direct his wacko anger at me.
“Who do you think you are?! You think you’re so smart?!” He then spits, I kid you not, directly in my face. At this point, it was clear that the driver wasn’t going to come back. In retrospect, I can kind-of understand. Wading through the load of people would have been near impossible, so the driver’s only real recourse would be to empty the bus and call the cops. Which is not really what anyone wanted.
So I decided to just take control of the situation and said pretty calmly, but loudly, “Get off the bus. Now.” And proceeded to give him my patented DEATH STARE, my possession of which can only be attributed to having to deal with jerks like these on a day-to-day basis. It’s life in the City.
I pointed to the door and wouldn’t let up. I was extraordinarily nervous, no doubt, and shaking all over inside, but I’d gotten myself into this, and this guy was NOT going to win.
I yelled at the driver to keep the bus stopped.
And then, sort-of to everyone’s surprise. He got off. Yelling his head off the whole way, but he got off the bus.
VICTORY! I sat down while everyone murmured. After I twittered some of the episode, I turned back to the girl and asked if she was OK.
“Yeah,” she said. “Sorry he spit on you.”
“Meh.” I replied. But I was pretty damn proud of myself. No one calls anyone a whore or a hooker or a c**t if I have something to say about it. 99% of the time, I keep my head down. I was done with that. I’m not looking for trouble, but I’m sick of being silent.
Douchebags: 0
SF Muni-riding feminist nerds: 1
Kristen Holden writes the ever so awesome San Francsico Love Story and as noted earlier, is a Muni Girl, among other things. Check out her blog!

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17 Responses to Guest Blogger Wednesday: Showdown on the 45…

  1. tangobaby says:

    You are my HERO! Although that sounds super scary (and yucky with the spit and all) you are very brave! Maybe MUNI can hire you to keep the rides safe for us.

  2. Tom says:

    Just curious…shouldn’t the Muni Driver be calling for some assistance? The police? Anything?
    Way to step up when no one else would

  3. Greg Dewar says:

    I think Kristen needs to be thanks for her willingness to call out a boorish thug like this guy. When she submitted this piece I read it during my lonnnng lame commute (a tail of Epic Muni Fail for later) and I was like totally rooting for her by the end.
    It is sad, however, that people in this city are so used to loosey goosey rules and feel it’s ok to act like this, or like that homophobe on the T line that SFist reported on Monday. And it’s really sad that despite having a very well paid police force, very well paid MUNI employees, and so on, that this kind of behavior by this thug is not only allowed, frankly it’s encouraged and celebrated.

  4. JustAnotherMuniRider says:

    First of all, good for you, Kristen. That took a lot of guts and you’re awesome for standing up to that jerk.
    Second, Greg, while it’s true that SF is maybe a little more accepting of eccentric behavior, I’ve never seen any instance of behavior like that described here “encouraged and celebrated.” Have you?

  5. Greg Dewar says:

    @JAMR: One only has to go on YouTube and see the many gang members celebrating their scrawling illiterate graffiti. And of course, this is encouraged.
    I’m not talking about some goofy person wearing goofy clothes, I’m talking about the daily nasty, dangerous behavior by the less-than-nice element in our city that if we speak out against, we’re called the bad guys, and we’re told we shouldn’t say anything about it, or to just accept it.
    Other cities seem to figure out how to make a city livable for everyone, and yet despite a city of geniuses, SF can’t get it right – but can soak us for taxes and fare increases and provide a dangerous form of transit.

  6. DanB says:

    I’ve been caught in the middle of two very frightening incidents on Muni (between other people) where it seemed like the driver or the passengers weren’t doing anything but police “magically” showed up. So someone did something.
    Neither incident was encouraged or celebrated, btw.

  7. brandi valenza says:

    This is the best MUNI story that I’ve read in a long time. You go, lady! FUCK YEAH! I take the 45, 30 and 9 all the time up through chinatown and I can’t even count hte number of weird-ass and messed up incidents I’ve had. It seems that I can hardly get myself and my 6 year old daughter off any one of those busses without some sort of showdown at the back door.
    I’m sorry that you were spit on, but man, you kinda rule right now.

  8. Rachel says:

    Good job! It’s scary when that kind of thing happens. Glad you stood your ground and didn’t get hurt.

  9. Alex says:

    Congratulations? Ugh. Yes, I realize that Charles Bronson is all the rage right now… but engaging a drunk, unstable, aggressive guy is not a cause worthy of much praise.
    If he’s that aggressive, you call 911, get the bus driver to stop the bus. When all is said and done, you call your district supervisor and complain that the cops don’t patrol MUNI as they’re required to. Then you show up at your neighborhood police station for their monthly community meetings, and you state the same.
    Greg, you should speak out about it and you should do something. However, there’s a huge difference between putting some obnoxious kids in their place and engaging some drunk guy who’s out of his mind. There are right things to do and wrong things to do. What if the drunk guy had a knife? Or maybe his empty bottle and took a swing at you with that?
    Even worse, what would have happened if Kristen had provoked drunk guy to assault someone else. All of a sudden, she’s on the hook for all sorts of damages.
    Police officers are required to ride MUNI on a daily basis. They’re also trained to deal with dangerous people. They need to get out of their damn cars and onto the streets and buses and streetcars.

  10. Greg Dewar says:

    @Alex: those are all fine points to make. unfortunately in the incident described none of it does any good to the people in this case, or anyone who’s been robbed on MUNI or spit on, or had to sit by and watch some kids fuck up a MUNI bus.
    The criminal element knows it can commit crimes in San Francisco with little fear of retribution from the police, the DA, and the people, so they do. I’ve been to plenty of meetings and so on, and guess what? I’ve realized that no one at City Hall gives a damn about any of this.
    Until that changes, there has to be some way for people to learn that being threatening to others has consequences.

  11. flo says:

    Good job!

  12. Alex says:

    So what happens when the criminal element simply learns that they need to be a bit tougher?

  13. Greg Dewar says:

    @alex: most of these punk kids are a cowardly lot, like most bullies. I, however, don’t endorse a rising cycle of violence.
    That said, the institutions in charge of public order are not doing the job of making it an issue we as the citizen do not have to deal with. yes, cities are full of crazy shit. But this city celebrates the criminal element and works to ensure they reign supreme, and they know it.

  14. Alex says:

    Gregggggg the punk kids aren’t what I worry about by and large. Hence the comment to the effect of drunk nutso guy vs some twerpy kids. Some guy who’s unstable and reeking of alcohol is a whole different ballgame. Actually some drunk twerpy kid would be as well.
    So, you gonna show up at the Taraval police station on the 18th?

  15. Bob Davis says:

    I remember when Willie Brown was elected mayor of SF, and it was like some of the criminal-coddling legislation that he sponsored in the Legislature came back to haunt him. It’s one thing to sit in the “ivory tower” of Sacramento and pass laws; it’s another to have your citizens complaining about winos, weirdos and criminals making The City an unpleasant and dangerous place to live. There are some people who just need a helping hand, but there are others who need a kick in the butt, a two-by-four upside the head, or in the worst cases, a volley from a firing squad (or 2300 volts from the hot-seat). Sent from LA County, where a parolee has been arrested for the murder of a 17 year old girl.

  16. Dennis says:

    Right on Kristen – we would certainly welcome you on the N-Judah – not only encounters with some of the eccentric riders but some of the drivers (not as many obnoxious as before) with attitude etc. ( yelling at passengers to get on, not opening the front door( to quote a driver from the past >”because I don’t feel like opening the door”). I have spoken up but when fellow passengers stay tight-lipped, I lose my motivation.
    Question > Were any of you on the N-Judah inbound around 8:30 at 4th & Judah??
    Full train already late and being delayed up by 6 Fare Officers and 4 SFPD – I am all for nailing cheaters but I wonder if they ever dare to confront passengers on somewhat more dangerous lines (15,22,29?).
    Anyway, my pet peeve is I only saw 2 or 3 Fare officers just check people near the door while the 4 S.F. cops stood around and the other fare cops were laughing and conversing on the sidewalk. IS THIS HOW ARE FARE REVENUE IS BEING SPENT – WHERE’S THE BENEFIT??
    Sorry for vent but running this by my fellow riders before I contact MUNI.
    Good Riding to all!

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