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The Insanity Box
Mass Transit in 'The Greatest City in America'
© 2012 James LaFond

Two nights ago, October 12th 2012, while I was reading a good sci-fi paperback on a cross town bus, a police officer pulled us over. A motorist was attempting to blame his car damage on the bus and begin building a case for a lawsuit against the Maryland MTA. The cop did his inspection, the MTA cop showed up, the driver filled out paperwork, the hooker behind me griped that she was late for work. But no inspection could change the fact that the driver hit nothing. A city bus is nothing like a Trailways or Greyhound bus. These are big hollow aluminum tubes lined with plastic. If the thing hits a squirrel everyone inside knows.

That fan of late night TV lawyer ads cost myself and about ten hospital employees an hour’s wages, not to mention the hooker’s inconvenience. In a just world we would have piled off the bus and dragged him screaming from his SUV and staked him out for the rats to feast on when they rose famished from the sewers at midnight”¦

I have written in detail about violence on a moving bus in the Fighting Edge. I will be updating that in time and presenting it here. But in the meantime, just so that you understand that the state or municipal employee that is piloting that big crackerjack box [no filled with Kookoo Coco Puffs] through the streets of your city is earning his or her money, I will recount some recent experiences and observations from what I have long called the ‘insanity box’.

News Flash!

Big Gus, my hip hop liaison, who claims every ‘brutha’ should have a token white friend, just informed me today, 10/16/12, that there is a Y-tube video of a Cleveland Ohio bus driver punching out a girl for spitting on him. Gus once told me that he couldn’t believe that I rode the bus with ‘all dem hardheaded Boldima bruthas’. Now he thought I should be informed that there was at least one equally ‘hardheaded sista’ in another mid-sized American ghetto.

I checked the video out. I have no idea why the altercation began. I can put in context. Virtually all bus altercations involve a standing black female passenger harassing a seated black male driver. They never mess with a black female driver. [For the sole exception see Good God Oh Mighdy Yo! below] The drivers usually put up with the verbal harassment. When they don’t, or when they try to enforce fare payments or rules of behavior, they are usually attacked by the female and her friends.

I have personally been the subject of numerous threats on city busses, including the threat of being executed with a handgun for the crime of being of European decent. I have been stoned on a bus. I have been shot at on a bus. I once read the newspaper while a female teenager screamed obscenities in my face for fifteen minutes in an attempt to get me to act aggressively so that her male friends would feel better about stomping me. I have been around the belly of the migratory urban beast, and have managed to ‘manage’ most of these situations, and keep them from going physical.

Keeping in mind that I have never been in a physical confrontation with a female while not on a bus, and that I have been in dozens of violent confrontations with males, let’s review my own experiences with actual physical violence on busses:

  • Age 14: A white female attacked me for being from the wrong neighborhood in an attempt to draw me into a fight with a big 18-year-old football player. I bit her, drawing blood, and glared at the football player, who kept his six-and-a-half-foot self in his seat.
  • Age 15: A punk insulted me and I immediately stabbed him in the thigh, and informed him that I would hunt him down and kill him if he told the authorities.
  • Age 35: A black female teenager refused to pay her fare, halting the bus, as the driver refused to continue without her fare. When I tried to exit the bus past her, she attempted to bar my way. I shoulder butted her between the breasts and sent her into the windshield. When she threatened to come down out of the bus to attack me as I walked away, I advised her that she might wish to choose a less painful fate than evisceration.
  • Age 35: I and about twenty or so other men watched for 10 minutes, and did nothing, as two punks beat another boy and an 80 year old woman. I sat and stewed for an additional five minutes. Eventually I became so disgusted with myself that I took it out on the punks and beat two of them up as I got off the bus.

There you have it. In my dozens of violent and even lethal encounters on foot, in school,

at home, and at work, I have never tangled with a female. But on the bus fully half of my antagonists have been female teenagers. There must be something about the crowded social nature of the setting and the fact that the men are generally seated, that makes females so violent on the bus. Also, the most violent bus attacks [excluding shootings and stabbings] have been perpetrated by females.

Nice uppercut dude.

The Cruel Old Dude Darwin Award Sweepstakes

I am so sick of young people putting their feet up on the seats and expecting me to stand, that I now sit on their feet—hard! Back in July, this one particular guy, a grungy twenty-year-old in dirty work boots, was taking up three seats. I sat on his feet. He began to whine and cry about having an injury. I just snarled and pushed his feet back while he whimpered. Then he stood, as his comprehensively superior elder sat righteously and deservedly in relative comfort after a hard night’s work.

If I had been a moral weakling I might have felt a twinge of guilt when the bus stopped in front of the emergency room and the wimp limped off the bus. Hopefully his injury has curtailed his fertility and has hence helped cleanse the gene pool.

Last August of 2011, I was walking to a friend’s house in a posh county enclave when three local white trashians flagged me over. I ignored them, but then noticed that the redhead was attractive and probably fertile, so I stopped. The redhead then insisted that I kill a suffering bird flopping around in the grass. Not being a card carrying member of the Avian Assisted Suicide Society, I just continued on my way. They stood, waiting for the bus, screaming that I was a ‘heartless bastard’ and was ‘a pussy’ for not killing the bird. Needless to say, I decided not to bless the disrespectful wench with a strong, intelligent son.

Hypothermic in Pink

I had thought it was supposed to be a balmy Indian Summer morning, but it turned out to be a chilly, windblown 45 degree October day in 2011. Just as I was congratulating myself for accidentally wearing my Korean War surplus olive drab jacket, I noticed a pretty young lady getting off the bus next to me, her teeth clattering in the cold. She looked impractically good in her lace topped dress and high heels, like she should have been a hostess at a tasteless restaurant that catered to”¦me.

I had a sweatshirt on under the jacket, and was more than warm enough. I had spared a jacket for a lady at a bus stop once a long time ago. But this lady looked too good. I was really afraid that she would be threatened by any overture I made, particularly, since my youngest son had recently informed me that I dressed like ‘a homeless dude.’ Rather than be mistaken for a dirty old man, I let her freeze.

Twenty minutes later, as her smooth chocolate skin had turned a nice ashy white and she shivered and hugged herself furiously, a tall athletic young man dressed in—what else but copious reams of oversized athletic wear—came to stand next to us as the bus pulled up. She had a bus ticket. I did too, but always stand aside while women, children, the elderly, and gangbangers board first. The young man had a bunched up wad of bills. He stepped on the bus in front of the freezing young lady and spent a minute or so jamming his bills into the meter as she continued to suffer. When we went to our seats he immediately began asking her for a date. She was still too cold to speak, so I don’t even know what she was thinking.

What I do know, is that chivalry, if it ever existed, is indeed dead.

From the Pacific Rim to Overlea Station

Daryl was a U.S. Army Special Operations soldier who did tours in South America and Korea, where he was permitted to kickbox for a Korean team. When he retired, after being shot in the flank while his unit was supplying muscle for a DEA operation in South America, he returned to Baltimore and became a city bus driver”¦

“The females in this town are disgusting, dress like pop stars and smell like cat food! That is one thing I really miss about Asia—the women! And the women in this town, they get the hoodlums they deserve!

“One night, this yo boy—thinks he’s somebody, thinks he’s something, doesn’t know shit—he gets on and presses a three-fifty-seven python to my forehead. Thankfully he didn’t know that he didn’t need to cock it. While he pulled back the hammer I reacted and got this scar [points to two inch long scar on dome of shaved head] when the weapon discharged. I effected the disarm while still seated. A joint-manipulation disabled him while I got out of the seat. Then it was payback time. He won’t walk again. I have no respect for these hoodlums. They should bring in the military and sweep the city. My old unit, we’d have the guns and the thugs off the street in a week.”

The heck with taxes. I’d write a check for that kind of law enforcement! And when they’re done I’m sure my friends would donate a house full of beer to celebrate.

Do Some More Drugs Granny

One of the county busses I take is chock full of nuts every morning, white trash stoner nuts that is. 20% of this hominid debris is female. I was seated in front of one of these used up party girls, an overweight woman about my age, who was speaking on the phone”¦

“Oh yeah girl, I’m clean. You know it. I’m done with rehab and that court bullshit, don’t get high anymore. Listen, when I get off at Overlea Station a friend of mine is picking me up. We are headed to this guy’s house to buy some oxys. Do you need any? If you front me the money—we’d have to swing buy your place first—I’ll take care of you. Perks? Yeah, he’s got perks. Look, give us a minute. We’ll be there in twenty. Love you too, hon.”

Good God Oh Mighdy Yo!

In the sweltering summer of 2001 I was taking the #3 out of town. This line rolls over a series of increasingly steep hills as it nears the Loch Raven reservoir. The bus seats 45 and was packed with 60. The air conditioning was kicking, but inadequate, so idiots were opening their windows, causing the bus to work all the harder as it climbed. The bus driver was a large quiet female. After about an hour on this thing, as she literally rocked the bus over the rise above Northwood, she began to get heckled. When men would yell something about a woman driver she would stop and glare in the mirror. Then, eventually, as we climbed higher and neared Belvedere, a woman stood in the aisle, “Yo this bitch cain’t drive. I oughta whoop ‘er ass en drive dis bitch up da road.”

The lady that said this was, perhaps 5’ 6” and 140 lbs, and stood proudly in the aisle, hands on hips.

The bus lurched to a stop.

The emergency brake was applied with a hearty grinding sound.

The dark brow of the much heckled driver furrowed in the mirror.

The heckler, hands on her perky hips, challenged, “What? You cain’t drive, bitch?”

The bus rocked, not because it was resuming notion, but because the driver was getting to her feet!

The woman stood and turned ponderously, glaring down the aisle at her little tormentor.

I would estimate the woman to have stood 6’7” and weighed about 450 lbs. Her shoulders and hips were broad and square. Even her head was square. She looked like the big sister of some NFL tackle, the one that slapped the shit out of him when he spilled nacho cheese on the living room carpet. Richard Burton’s commentary on the amazons of Dahomey came to mind.

The people standing in the aisle began to press between the seats. The little heckler squealed and darted for cover, and some drunk construction worker, who was replenishing his days worth of sweat with cheap vodka, blurted, “God God Oh Mighdy Yo! Dat monsta bitch gonna squash you shorty!”

The driver stood and glared until she was met only by silence, then the drive resumed, in silence.

Breeders Last

Back in May of this year I was waiting for a pregnant woman to get on the bus. Then an athletic young man cut her off and spent the minute or two it takes to feed four sweatpants-bunched one-dollar-bills into the meter while she stood in the rain. The driver did not admonish the punk.

When I sat in the back of the bus a young couple with a baby sat in front of me. He was a short, fat, balding, twenty-year-old in oversized athletic wear and yo hat. She was a very fit and pretty girl of the same age, dressed in a pants suit, headed to work, by way of the babysitter’s house, baby in arms. Their conversation turned to the fact that he needed to get a job, so that they could buy some cloths for the baby. He claimed that he still had another prescription of oxys to get filled, and that he wasn’t going to go look for some demeaning job until he had sold all of the pain medication. When she pressed him for money to help with the baby he said, “Girl, donchoo got dat wic shit?”

I just have one question for you New Age reincarnation types out there. Are you sure you want to come back? I mean, Oxy Dad is apparently just begun to reproduce. You might come back as his next kid.

1984, Finally

Homeland security literature, bail bond notices, and posted behavior guidelines abound on city buses. The most often violated rule is eating and drinking on the bus. This is what one driver had to say about his ability to enforce rules alone, while driving with his back to the passengers, “I don’t like the plexi-cage. They could still reach around en shoot me. Certain times on certain lines I let things slide, depending on how I figure it will play out.”

Below is a smattering of the literature copied from interior posters and sign-plates

From Under a Bus Shelter

That looks delicious. [juicy burger photo] Please enjoy it before you board the bus.

From the Walls

For your safety, this vehicle is equipped with video monitoring.

Yield these seats to seniors and people with disabilities.

Wheel chairs have priority in this area.

No smoking.

No food and drink.

No radios.

Federal law prohibits standees beyond the yellow line.

Do not stand in this area.

The effects of lead paint are...

Does your child have behavior issues, challenges authority, lacks remorse?

Assault on a Bus Operator will not end well. [handcuff illustration] Think about it. MTA Maryland

From the Overhead Panel

The Mass Transit Administration Behavior Code [with most of the lettering too small to read].

Homeland security warnings about abandoned packaging, primarily in Spanish”¦ [Less than 10% of bus patrons are Latino. Then again, the whole sign solution is brought into question when one realizes that functional literacy in Baltimore is only about 60%.]

Talk, Talk, Talk. But please lower the volume as a courtesy to others.

I-Pod Paradise

There are signs all over the bus that say no radios. That does not stop the hip hopsters. Probably the worst example of this was on the #19 in the late 1990s when a bus driver asked the guys that had just been released from the county lockup to turn down their boom-box in the back. They turned it up—way up! These guys were drinking whiskey and throwing the bottles out the window and smoking pot. He got the message and did not repeat his request—not that he could have been heard.

The funniest, was Madonna Man; a gay bleach blonde dude who dressed in white leather and carried around a huge boom box blaring Madonna music, even on the bus. He got laughed off of one bus and kicked off another. The drivers got help with him from the other passengers.

Recently an Asian bus driver asked the punks in the back of a bus I was on to turn off their radio. They ignored him and he issued two warnings, even providing a recap of previous warnings, and a countdown. Eventually he stopped the bus and approached the three youths who were all half his age and twice his size. One said, “Uh oh yo, check out Jackie Chan!”

The driver stepped up to the radio player and stared at him until he turned it off. Since these punks had been a bother on this bus, and the bus line mostly served working adults like myself, I made a decision to back him up if he was attacked. I didn’t have to, as the punk turned off his radio and began whining, “Yo dis shit be racist up in here yo—fuckin’ UN occupation force en whatnot!”

Please tell me someone cast that kid for the remake of Red Dawn.

Over all, as bad as bus behavior is, it is far better since the advent of I-pods and smart phones. Most of the passengers, who in years past would have entertained themselves violently, now sit docile and apathetic, communing with their magical devices.

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