San Francisco public transit is experiencing another meltdown, possibly worse than the infamous “Muni Meltdown” of the mid-Nineties (seriously, if you look up “muni meltdown” on Wikipedia, you will find a reference to it). The result is that the evening commutes have been sufficiently packed lately to make tinned sardines revel in their elbow room (well, they would revel in their elbow room if they had elbows).
So I was standing inside such a packed bus during another meltdown evening commute recently. In front of me sat a middle-aged African American woman. Next to her sat a possibly Filipino woman in her early thirties, I would guess. Behind me stood two African American men in their early twenties. Next to me stood a short boy, possibly Filipino, who struggled to reach the black loops for standees to hold onto for dear life. Oddly enough, the only person whose race matters in this story is yours truly the white boy.
One of the young men behind me wanted the whole bus to know that he was a tough guy, not to be messed with at all, and his partner was willing to play along in the play acting.
“So I’m gon’ f— his head up, gon’ f— his head up real good. He can’t do tha’, can’t do tha’ to me and not ge’ f—ed real good.”
“Then I gon’ go to the cannabis club, score some bud, jus’ chill, y’know, cuz I’m gon’ wanna chill after I f— him up.”
“How you get a card, man? I ain’t got one.”
“Went to this doctor chick, tol’ her I had that Fiber Malaysia stuff you see on the tube.”
“That all it took? Man, can you hook me up with the lady doc?”
“No prob, man, jus’ tell ‘er you got that Fiber Malaysia. You gon’ share some o’ your bud, aintcha?”
“Yeah, we cool.”
Just then, the middle-aged woman got off the bus. I called out, “Who wants a seat?” The struggling short boy immediately pounced upon his opportunity. The Filipino woman said, “Thank you very much sir for letting my son sit next to me.”
“Aw man, you see dat? White man did a favor for a person of color! F—. Now I can’t pick his pocket. I was gon’ pick his pocket, but I can’t do that now. Jus’ ain’t right.”
He and his buddy laughed their heads off and disembarked. Just think about that. If it weren’t for me, you would never have learned that pernicious pickpockets proudly proclaim their perfidious planned pilferage to packed passengers on public prams.
Vonn Scott Bair
PS–Nah, I also knew he wasn’t serious. Just trying to mess with everyone’s heads.