Insult of the Day, Special M-Ocean View Edition, 10 April 2012

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Good Afternoon:

He was a homeless African-American with grey in his untrimmed sideburns and grey in his untrimmed beard, and a permanent stoop in his posture. He wore an old Army surplus jacket, and his worldly belongings consisted of his sleeping bag and whatever he could stuff into his pockets, his backpack, and his military green canvas duffel bag. Truth be told, he hadn’t bathed in a while, and the SF Muni M-Ocean View that I took underground from Market & Castro to Market & Van Ness was crowded.

She was about 30 years old and 30 years younger than him, Caucasian, charcoal business suit (skirt and jacket), each strand of honey blonde hair not so much combed or brushed as disciplined and precisely aligned within the confines of a pony tail. As the M pulled into the Van Ness, and before it came to a stop, she started to push her way through the crowd to the center double door, declaiming, “Excuse me! Excuse me! I must get off at this stop! Please, get out of my way!”

The homeless man was in her way, and because of his baggage, he not only took up a lot of room, he couldn’t maneuver at all within the confines of the crowded streetcar. Naturally, he was in her way.

“Excuse me! Can you please get out of my way?! I must get off now! Excuse me, please!”

“It cool, Miss, it cool, I’m gettin’ off here, too; this is the cool stop. All the cool people get off the Muni at this stop.”

“What?!”

“Well, it was cool ’til YOU came along.”

The streetcar stopped, the doors opened, and he disembarked. She almost missed her stop as she was too stunned to move for a few seconds; in fact, she needed to be told to get out of the way by other people trying to leave.

Vonn Scott Bair

PS–I love my hometown, but San Franciscans, frankly, including me, can lapse into snotty and arrogant behavior; it would not surprise me if that homeless man had used that exact same insult on other occasions.

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