Free-Floating Hostility

Friday, November 18, 2005

Sometimes People Aren't so Nice

Today my going-home train stopped at the Martinez station, and didn't start again for quite some time. Eventually on of the conductors came on the PA system to explain that we were waiting for the police. Everybody huffed, myself included. "If Frontier Justice Gary were here," I groused to myself, "We wouldn't be waiting for the cops. The perp would be hitchiking to Suisun right now." But Gary was not in charge of this train ride, and we sat for forty-five minutes. I only found out the details of the story because we happened to have a District Attorney in my car (there's a courthouse in Martinez), and it's a good thing he was there to put the smack down. According to him, the trouble all started with a blind woman and her dog. It seems that she mistakenly sat in the conductor's seat, and when he pointed out her mistake, she refused for some reason to move. This put the conductor in an awkward position indeed, but he kept his cool and made a citizen's arrest. Perhaps you skimmed over that sentence, so let me repeat: the conductor made a citizen's arrest on the blind lady sitting in his seat. He called the police and held the train. And when the poor cop who had to respond to this call arrived, he didn't know what to do when the conductor demanded that the woman and her dog be removed, and taken into custody for trespassing. At this point the DA had gotten restless and come down to demand answers; he encouraged the flummoxed officer to refuse point blank and leave, after which the train started up again. When he recounted the story to the assembled commuters, the peanut gallery really took off. "Maybe he was afraid of the dog," was one suggestion. "Maybe the dog wouldn't stop licking his crotch" was another. I've got to find out from Gary what the deal was with the seat--is this an Occupational Health issue or did the guy just snap? The consensus on the train was not only that the guy had gone out of his mind but that they couldn't believe he had shown the temerity to collect their tickets after his behavior. When we paused briefly between Fairfield and Davis someone suggested, "Maybe the conductor got in a fight with a parapalegic."

I, on the other hand, was in no position to criticize, having picked a fight with a homeless man just a few hours before. I was passing by Noah's Bagels on my way to class, and out front a man was playing his guitar for money and being charming in that hustling sort of way. "Can you spare some change? Two eggs over easy?" asked the guitarist between bars. I smiled at him as I passed by. Well, apparently the guy occupying the piece of sidewalk directly next to the guitarist got jealous or something, cause he addressed me next. "I think," he said portentously, "he meant to say two legs over easy." Well, that really pissed me off, and I wheeled around. "You know," I said, "I bet you could find a way to talk to people in the morning without disrespecting them if you put your mind to it." "Aaaaw," he said, "Was that disrespectful?" "Yes, my friend, it was." I hoped I was withering, but as I continued down the street I heard him call out that he planned to keep on disrespecting people. I have got to acquire some impulse control.

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