As the bus rambled through West Seattle, I heard a loud high-pitched scream come from the back. At first I thought that it was just some teens messing around, a very common eye-roll worthy incident. A small Chinese girl chased two black teens up to the front and she started shrieking, “EXCUSE ME! EXCUSE ME! YOU STOLE MY IPOD!” One boy was shoving his hands into his pants while she pulled at his shirt, furiously denying that he had taken it. She planted her feet and leaned back in a frantic tug-of-war with a thief. The other ordered the driver to open the door. She pled with the driver to help her, crying that they had swiped her iPod and if he could please do something.
So what did the driver do? He opened the doors and let the boys run out.
I watched those two jackasses laugh as they fled the bus stop. Their open mouths probably congratulating each other on a small and successful heist. The girl began shaking as she stomped back to her seat. Some women surrounded her, yelling out, “Why didn’t the driver do anything? He just let those guys go!”
Those thoughts echoed throughout the bus and everyone who didn’t witness it were tuned into the drama that spilled over us. The girl was still sobbing while one woman dialed the police, another announced she was calling Metro. Others took turns storming up to the driver, demanding why he hadn’t done more.
The driver, an older looking man with deep frown lines, shrugged it off. “I didn’t know what was going on.” The whole incident happened within his arm’s reach, with a teenage girl pleading with him that she had been robbed and yet, it remained a mystery. I watched him stare at the three before he pulled the door lever.
The blatant victimizing compounded with a lax driver only worsened the already steamed crowd. More people yelled at him, calling the door-opening bullshit. More stops. More passengers. More people learning of what happened to the sobbing girl in the back and the idiot behind the wheel.
I could tell the driver was getting frazzled by the passengers and the noise. He almost missed a stop and pushed the brake too hard, jolting us forward. At the teenage girl’s stop, the consoling women followed behind her, bellowing at the driver.
As she passed by, I slipped her a note with my name and number on it. “I saw everything,” I said. She was still a red-faced mess and nodded towards me. I wrote down all the details on my notepad–the bus number, route, and time. This could not escape his record. (Edit: I just got an email explaining that employees have permanent files, not records. I’ve been spending too much time scanning the police blotter for my name. Also, I once saw my elementary school file and my kindergarten year was filled with many notes saying, “Mona is very talkative,” and “Mona continues to flip her dress up, exposing her panties. We are concerned.”)
I left the bus without saying anything to the driver. I shot him a look that I usually give people who expel a lung’s worth of juicy phlegm right in my pathway. I was mad at him and myself for not doing more. I could have yelled at them to quit it or thrown something at their heads. I should stop stuffing Lean Cuisines in my purse and start packing ninja stars. No one messes with ninja stars. (Note to self: work on aim).
At home, I spoke with a lady from Metro customer service who had received several other calls about the theft and explained that it’s their policy to move altercations off the bus. “Drivers aren’t supposed to get involved.” Wow, that totally makes me feel safe on public transportation. If I’m beaten, my attackers will just have to pause their pile-driving until the driver lets us all off.
“Well, he didn’t tell us that it was policy to sit there like an idiot and say that he didn’t know a theft was going on. He just sat there like an idiot and said that he didn’t know a theft was going on. I want that to be included in his record.”
All-about-me tangent: The only time I’ve ever been robbed was in Hawaii. It was my fault. I put my purse down to pick up some shoes on the top shelf and when I looked down it was gone. I ran to the salesclerk and she said she saw two girls zoom out of the store. It was too late. Worse yet, I had my brother’s passport and my sister’s pager inside. Even worse than that–my brother had an international flight to take three days later and my sister had many
drug deals pages non-drug-deal-related pages to receive. When my brother found me filing a report with a security guard, his then-girlfriend said with her fat, puffer fish mouth, “Mona, did you get lost?”
On the bus ride tomorrow, I’m going to hold a hawkeye watch over my things. Who knows how much a microwaveable sesame chicken lunch is going for on the streets these days. Besides, if two teens ever rob me of my food and concealed ninja-gear, I’m on my own.