Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Night of Pockets

The Killer Lady, Mah, and I went to Cafe International in SF this evening to attend a Hootenanny Night; this month the songs were all British Invasion, with a heavy rotation of Beatles tunes. The KL has moved to the East Bay, and we decided to take BART, which worked pretty well though the long wait for the Muni made us much later than we would have liked.

The Hoot was really fun, with people taking turns singing and lots of audience participation. Going by BART is like having a curfew, so we chose to leave the cafe at 1045 (right after "Lady Madonna") to make sure we wouldn't miss the last train back. Going home, we didn't have to wait long for a bus, which was pretty full even though it was an extra-long articulated one, including some other people who had been at the Hoot as well.

A couple stops after we got on, a young man in sagging pants and a drunken angry face got on the bus. We were closer to the front than the back and could see some drama going on. He checked all his pockets, though his pants were sagging so low that it took him several tries each time to get his hands into his back pockets. When he shoved his hands into the pocket of his hoodie his phone clattered to the floor and down the steps of the bus. I don't know why the driver didn't kick him off when he threw a couple of coins into the coin box. When he walked past us he was on his phone: "I lost my m---f--- transfer, n---, can you believe that s--?"

A few stops after that he ran up to the front of the bus again. The KL pointed out that it may have been because of the police car driving alongside the bus, that perhaps he was afraid that they were going to take him off the bus. The same thing happened again, including dropping the phone into the stairwell. This time on the way back he was purposefully bumping people; the KL said that he hit her on the butt and Mah said that he tried to hit her but she dodged it, and that he was hitting people all the way to the back of the bus.

There was a man sitting in the back of the bus who had been at the Hoot. He had been easy to see because he was easily six and a half feet tall. This guy stuck his foot out to trip Transfer Boy, so of course Transfer Boy started a "You want a piece of me?" thing, even after the guy from the Hoot stood up to tower over him. I didn't see this, but the KL said the man sitting next to the tall guy took off his belt and wrapped it around his fist.

Suddenly the doors opened and I saw we were at our stop. The KL said that when I said, "This is our stop" she wasn't sure whether it really was or if I was just saying it was. A lot of people left the bus when he did, including both the tall guy and the man with the belt on his fist, but not including Transfer Boy who was still posturing and shouting as the bus pulled away.

We jumped onto our train and were laughing about Transfer Boy as we sat in the seats behind the three young women sitting in the quad (two sets of seats that face each other). At the next stop a man who was intoxicated or tweaking got on the car. Very shortly afterwards he focused on the girls in the quad and sat in the empty seat with them. He was talking to the woman across from him and showing her his wallet and his cell phone. She ignored him.

I noticed that everyone but one person in our end of the car was watching this interaction. One man who was sitting about fifteen feet away stood up. The man in the seats in front of the girls pulled his cap around and started watching, and the man across from him was watching out of the corner of his eyes. The man sitting across from the tweaker kept his nose in his newspaper. Mah and the KL were watching by looking at the reflection in the window across from them, and I was watching the tweaker directly - I had a good look at him as he was blocking them in the quad.

He started pulling things out of his pockets: First he pulled out a hair pick and a pair of haircutting scissors. Then he threw at least ten Sharpies, some other pens, mints, some Starburst candies, and another pair of scissors on the floor. That was when everyone became alarmed. I got up and pressed the button to talk to the train operator. The first guy to get up stepped forward, covered the scissors with his foot, and pulled them away. I made my report to the operator and requested BART police to escort the tweaker off the train; when he asked if he had a weapon, I said that he had scissors that had been secured but he was threatening some teenaged girls.

We got to West Oakland and the tweaker got off the train by himself. I thanked everyone who had been part of this little drama because I felt really supported when I saw everyone's eyes go to this man. Usually people on BART don't get involved in stupid stuff, so I wanted to thank them so if it happens again they'll do it again, and I had felt really supported, and I knew that the girls in the quad would have been as well, had they seen what was going on with the rest of us because they kept their eyes down the whole time.

We transferred at 12th Street, talking about who saw what and what Mah - who has excellent hearing - had heard. We were laughing about how pockets had played such a big part in both dramas. The young women who'd been with us on the first train got on at the next stop, and we told them that we had vetted this car and no one had any pockets. They thanked me for calling for the BART cops.

As soon as they got off the train, a man who was obviously under the influence of something got on. As he went by, Mah heard him say, "The gummint's what's wrong with them," but he apparently didn't stay on the train very long and didn't cause a scene. All of us noticed that his pants had pockets, but he was wearing jeans that fit more tightly and wouldn't have held more than a small cell phone. Mah, the KL, and I started laughing as soon as he got on.

No comments: