People be getting sassy on the SEPTA.
It started in my second week in Philly. I had taken the bus to Redding Terminal Market for some super fresh produce at super low prices. After navigating some construction I finally got on the 49 bus on Arch St and settled in to my seat in the front next to a couple of tired looking commuters. As we turned onto 22nd and headed north we pulled over to a stop and two young men got on. They explained in sassy tones with a stereotypically gay sounding inflection that they had just been robbed so they didn’t have their fare. The bus driver told them they could not ride the bus for free, and could they please step down? No, they informed him, they could not. The bus driver sat back and announced, “Fine, then we goin’ to sit here until you do.” A groan erupted from the already irritable passengers. Someone stepped up and paid one kid’s fare but no one else was willing to spare two dollars for sassy punk numero dos.
Great, I had to get on the one damn bus where the bus driver had decided to take a stand. My first SEPTA Mexican standoff. Being as shy as I am, I was the first of the passengers to pipe up. “Can you guys please just take a different bus?” It was all another young woman sitting across from me needed. “Yea,” she joined in. “Everyone else had their two dollars, why don’t you?” The guy that had taken a seat after someone paid his fair stood up and got in this woman’s face. “Um, because we got robbed!!” he sassed back. “We just came from the police station!” Stone faced she replied, “You know, I really don’t believe you.” And then all hell broke loose. “You don’t know anything bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch!” was all I really heard as he wagged his finger in front of her face. Then the kid in the front started to yell at the bus driver. “You so stupid! You letting all these people sit here for two dollars. You so stupid. You know why? Because you work for SEPTA. That’s right. You didn’t’ get your degree. I did, I went to Temple…blah blah blah.”
Wow, I think silently to myself, that just proved how meaningless a bachelor’s degree has become.
This was too much for most people. They started to get off the bus, walking seeming a better alternative to sitting and listen to some punk berate an honest SEPTA employee. As the crowd pushed their way off the bus a tall man followed. I thought he was getting off but instead he pushed them off with the crowd. “Who the fuck are you?” Shouted one of the punks?” “You don’t want to know,” replied the tall man.
As we started moving again a halfhearted cheer went up from the remaining passengers and we headed up 22nd. Whew, I thought, that was crazy. And then it got crazier. The guys started sprinting, uphill, after the bus, in flip flops. And these were some athletic fellows. The ran after us all the way to Fairmont, as we passed poor old ladies who didn’t understand why the bus driver stopped at the stop sign they stood in front of, but refused to open the door for them. They didn’t notice the grinning fools behind them. When we reached the traffic light at the Penitentiary they ran in front of the bus like they had been every time we stopped, but this time there was a loud bang. And a circular crack on the windshield in front of the bus driver’s face. The punks ran east and all that was left in their wake was a brick in the middle of the intersection.
“Oh hell no, I am not getting physically assaulted today!” Said that woman across from me as though today had been a tougher day than most and on other days this would have been totally ok. She got on her phone with 911, and the next thing I knew there were cop cars, and the bus driver was getting talked down by his supervisor. Even more people started to get off but the bus driver ushered them back on and we started back on our route fairly quickly. When I pulled the yellow rope at Girard I thought about what I would say to the bus driver as I got off. “Thank you sir,” I said. “I’m really sorry about all that,” he replied. “No, I’m sorry, those guys were jerks,” I said as I stepped down.
Stay tuned for more SEPTA sagas.