Seeing Our City’s Less Fortunate on Muni

A Muni ride puts you in much closer proximity with our city’s less fortunate – instead of just walking over yet another homeless person huddled in a blanket or ignoring yet another outstretched hand for spare change, a Muni ride makes you look at people in the eye. Or does it?

I was on the 38-Geary on Sunday when a older man wearing a trench coat got onboard. He sat across from a toddler bouncing on her mom’s lap, and the next thing I know, the man started singing a pretty, soulful tune to the little girl. “The girl of my dreams…ain’t no mountain too high…nothing can keep us apart.” “You know what I’m talking about,” he says to no one in particular.

He rambles on and tells the bus that his name is Fillmore Holmes (“That’s right. That’s my real name.”) and sings right in front of Virgin Records downtown. “My last show is on August 23! Are y’all going to come see me at my last show?”

By this time a couple of people had already moved away from his seat. He turned to a young lady two seats over, “How about you, you gonna come see my show?” She looked away awkwardly as if he wasn’t talking to her, then she looked over to another passenger and shrugged, as if to say, “What can I do? This crazy person is talking to me.”

I felt terrible that everyone was looking at him as though he was crazy. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t — clinically, I can’t say. But I wish we felt more comfortable in just looking him in the eye, acknowledge a fellow human being, and say yes, maybe I will pass by your show next week.

But I too am guilty of walking past most of the city’s homeless or mentally ill. Like most people (especially women walking alone like I am most of the time), I am afraid.

– Eugenia

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