Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hypothesis and reality

I’ve been riding buses for 20 years while living in the Seattle area, and I’ve “learned” a lot about the people in this world during the course of this experience.  Take for instance an incident I observed a few days ago. At the stop near the “Y” in the city of SeaTac, a group of “children” who apparently had been playing a game of pick-up basketball, scrambled onto the bus from both the front and rear door. The driver—for admittedly good reason—was upset about this development, since the “kids” had not bothered to pay the fare or show her a transfer. The driver refused to depart unless these “children” came to the front to show that they had boarded legally. 

But she went further: She demanded that they “stand in line” outside the front door. But these “children” were apparently the bad-mannered types who didn’t respect “authority.”  A couple of them left the bus through the back door (which the driver had apparently “forgotten” she left open) while a couple others went to the front and rudely thrust  transfers that may or may not be valid fare or expired in face so that she wouldn’t require glasses to see them. I observed one of those kids go to the still open back door, and hand his transfer to another overgrown “child” who was waiting outside. The driver finally told them all to get off the bus. Helpfully, there were a couple older black men on the bus who decided that they had been embarrassed enough by these antics and told them to “get the hell off the bus,” which they eventually did. 

But that wasn’t the end of the episode. After the “kids” departed, they decided to take out their “frustration” at not having gotten away with a free bus ride by throwing their basketball several times—hard—at the bus windows. When this didn’t accomplish what they intended, of these “innocent children” slammed his fist into one of the front door glass panes, cracking it from one to the other. They then made their escape.

Now, I can’t say that the driver was without fault. After all, I have my own complaints about her; several times she passed me at my stop and made me walk a rude distance because she was too busy engaging in conversation with a rider who standing up behind her, which I think is against the rules. She certainly could have handled this situation differently; they only required the lower “youth” fare, and there was no point. Sure they needed to be taught some manners and respect the rules, but I didn’t think she was the right person to do it. She also made the mistake of referring to their mothers—which I think in such company where mothers are never spoken of disrespectfully, even if they deserve to be for “raising” such “children.”

That wasn’t end of my observations for that day. Just beyond the very next stop a City of SeaTac cop had pulled over a Latino driver who didn’t look at all the “gangsta” type, just a normal guydriving an apparently too recent a vintage car. My experience is that when cops go on their “fishing” expeditions to meet their “quota” of traffic tickets for the day, they tend to employ racial profiling, in the “expectation” that someone might have a warrant or be on terrorist watch list just because they look “foreign” or otherwise tend to fit the “criminal” profile—which because dark skin genetically takes precedence over light skin genes, their admixture tends to spit out a dark face in their computer simulations. 

I found it highly ironic that just a block away there were these “children” who actually broke the law by damaging a bus and were obviously going to get away with it—and having done so, would likely do it again if given the opportunity, if not against a bus window but any other window—and here was this cop, completely oblivious to these goings-on, who was too busy filling his traffic ticket scam quota for something the driver probably had no idea of what he done.Mendacity, mendacity—always mendacity.

That bit of hypocrisy just barely beat-out what I observed the day before.A Caucasian man who said he was 55 and looked older, with a pair of crutches by his side, was sitting on the bus. At a stop a Caucasian mother and daughter boarded the bus, and who appeared not to be the “type.” The only empty seat for both of them  was across the aisle from this old man. Apparently meaning to be “friendly,” he spoke to the daughter. He said he wanted to  “guess” her age, and figured by certain physical variables that it was from 15 to 17. Sitting behind him, I thought the inquiry might seem “intrusive” and “strange” as an opening to a conversation; I suppose that someone who was suspiciously-inclined would believe that he was making the inquiry for an ulterior purpose, but I did not have that impression, since the man looked clearly in decline physically and not particularly “threatening” in demeanor. 

The fact that he was speaking in front of her mother should have been sufficient reason to think that he wasn’t thinking about a “relationship.” I rather thought he was just the sort who just happened to ask the wrong the question to the wrong person. My impression of the daughter was that she was a bit haughty. The mother and daughter at first didn’t act offended, although the daughter didn’t respond, just looked at him in a patronizing way. The mother finally said “She’s 16, OK,” upon which the man congratulated himself about guessing “right” and went on about how he arrived at that conclusion.  

Apparently during this time, a 25ish man of some bulk was listening to this conversation behind me; he had that “tough guy” look. He approached and sat in the seat behind the mother and daughter; in a rather surly, menacing manner he told the older man that the women did not want to talk to him, and to leave them alone. The mother said “Thank you.” At that time his wife or girlfriend arrived to tell him they needed to get off the bus, and he seemed hesitant to do so, literally shaking as if he was waiting for an excuse to punch the older, apparently crippled man. I thought that she was afraid he might do that. Before he got off, the younger man threatened the older man that he “better not do anything, or I’m going to kill you.” I believed him. 

Afterwards I told the mother and daughter that I thought that the man who had “defended” them was more dangerous than this other guy, and I thought they should be ashamed of themselves. Then another man got on the bus and sat next to the older man, whereupon he was asked if he played soccer, because he was wearing a soccer jersey. It was obvious he was just the “friendly” type who had an unfortunate habit of talking to be people who were “nice” enough to sit nearby him, since he was obviously in a disheveled state because of his disability, and was happy that someone would actually be not too “proud” to sit next to him.

What I gathered from this incident was the following: We keep talking about how women are equal to men—sometimes even “superior”—yet they require assistance to safeguard their persons. Sometimes these safety mechanisms employ racial stereotypes, and other times they “require” deliberate misinterpretations of other factors of appearance and intentions. Should it be illegal for an older man who appeared to me be someone who was trying break the ice in a world of strangers and ships passing in the night, to speak to a 16-year-old female accompanied by her mother? Has the world come to that? Should this “require” the need for physical threat—perhaps to be carried out at slightest “justification”? And the mother was “thankful” for this behavior? Is this what the media has taught us—by focusing exclusively on white female victims when they are the demographic least likely to be the victim of crime, making it appear that the opposite is true? That others must be victimized in order to “protect” them?

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