Friday, March 27, 2009

says who?

This morning, I left for work as usual. I walked out my door and a few blocks down to where I pick up the bus. Some days I walk (it’s a 10-15 minute walk to the metro), some days, if I see the bus coming (like today), I will stand and wait for it. Last night on my way home, my metro card went negative, so I used exact change on the bus, rather than swiping my smart trip card. I got on the bus and walked back and grabbed the pole. As I did, a woman stood up from her seat and offered it to me. I politely thanked her and declined, as I am only on the bus for a few minutes and didn’t need to sit. She complimented me on my coat. I thanked her. She then asked me if I could help her out. Now realizing where all of this was going, I apologized and said I had no change. I even went so far to say that I had just put all my change into the meter when getting on the bus, to pay my fare. She began to mutter under her breath, as they always do, and I said nothing back.

Quickly, she began talking about the Bible. She talked about how the Bible says “thou shall not steal.” From there, she asked what people who have nothing are supposed to do, because when you have nothing, you have to steal, in order to get something. This woman was standing behind me at this point, she hadn’t sat back down.

There was another woman who was sitting to my right, up a row or two from where I was. She (along with everyone else on the bus) could hear this lady and replied to her saying “you need to learn to help yourself.” This was all that the first lady needed. The two of them began to go back and forth about who helps who out and whose responsibility it is. Lady 1 clearly expected a handout, while lady 2 repeatedly said that you are your own primary responsibility and nobody else’s. This is where it began to get ugly.

I am not sure where it came from, but lady 1 then began threatening lady 2, saying she’d shoot her with her gun and kill her. Lady 2 laughed, saying that would never happen, only encouraging lady 1, who then went on and on about shooting her and then stabbing her repeatedly, to be sure she was dead. Lady 1 even swore on her mother's grave that she'd get lady 2.

By now, they were both speaking loudly and the entire bus was listening to the conversation. Most people, including the bus driver, were actually laughing at the exchange. Me? I was a bit nervous. Maybe it seems silly of me, but really? How was I to know that either lady, or anyone else, didn’t have a gun or a knife in their bag? They could have easily pulled it out and things would have gotten far worse. I was standing between the two, so if either lunged at the other, there I was.

My thoughts, as I got off the bus and headed to the Eastern Market metro, was why didn’t anyone say something to either of them? Granted, yes, I stayed silent, but should someone say something? Should the bus driver asked one or both of them to get off the bus? Would you have said something?

I was glad I got off the bus when I did, but the 90 bus has a long ride down 8th St. into Anacostia…


Patrick Does DC said...

That's nuts! All the interesting stuff seems to happen on the bus, never on the metro. Liz was on the bus once when a fist fight broke out over someone stepping on someone's toe and not apologizing. Good story if you ask her sometime.

anOCgirl said...

i think that the bus driver should've said something to lady 1, like, 'if you don't stop, i'm letting you off right here'. not only was lady 2 in danger, but so was everyone else on that bus. i think a bus driver should feel some personal responsibility to keep his riders safe.

also, DC is the type of city that should take threats seriously.

Anonymous said...

i'm sure the bus driver saw what lady (probably not the appropriate term for either of them) #1 was up to and should have removed her from the bus in the first place... i don't believe pan-handling on public transportation is legal/acceptable
so that should have solved it. but i don't blame you for being scared. that's why i don't make small talk with the homeless people here... i'm scared of getting shanked just because i don't carry cash.

but for the record i'm with woman #2... i feel that everyone is responsible for themselves first and foremost. i'm well aware that many feel otherwise, including my sister who i've gotten into heated arguments about these issues with

magda said...

My favorite part of this story is that you refer to each as "lady" throughout. Somehow, "lady" has a sort of refined, polished resonance to me; I think of someone in stockings and coiffed hair. (I know. I'm special).

I get really freaked out by altercations like this. I'm always scared I'll move at the wrong time, get noticed at the wrong moment, and be one of those casualties they investigate on CSI who has seemingly no connection to the murderer, no real reason to have ridden that bus or ended up dead, but ALAS, and my story will keep all those forensic experts at it day in and day out.

Maybe if you rode the bus more, you'd harden up and find it funny, too? I don't know. I think there's definitely something to be said for awareness in situations like this. And I definitely wouldn't have said anything.

I'm so glad you're okay!

Ohmygoshi said...

I would have been so nervous and awkward had I been there! but in hindsight, who doesn't love a bus ride filled with crazies??

Laurie said...

Yikes. It's a tough spot to be in - but lady #2 shouldn't have gotten involved to start with.

Maris said...

I would have ran like hell! I think if the bus driver thought either woman would pose a threat it would be his responsibility to the rest of the bus to call 911 and pull over.

Chances are lady one was just a lunatic but its scary how you never know!