‘Anyone Got Change for a $5?’

changeguy1What a scam. Some guy on my morning commute presented the driver with a $5 dollar bill, apologizing that that’s all he had. The driver said too bad, pay the fee or get off. Without hesitation, the guy turned his attention to the passengers.

“Anyone got change for a $5?”

No response.

So he dialed up the tone, “Anyone got change for a $5?!”

As I started to reach for my wallet, I realized the bus wasn’t moving. The driver was waiting for change. Unfortunately, no one had change for a $5, which left us all inconvenienced victims of a Muni standoff: The guy wasn’t budging from the bus and neither was the driver until change was produced.

Change guy starting yelling at the bus driver that he was an asshole for not moving. The bus driver seemed unphased, and continued to idle. The riders, including myself, stayed silent. After all, the guy was pretty big and intimidating (did you check out his picture?).

Eventually change guy said, “Anyone got a quarter? I need five quarters.”

Flabbergasted, I watched as a few passengers happily produced quarters, which were quickly deposited.

And we were moving again.

Whoa, whoa. What just happened here? Why didn’t the driver kick the guy off? And why did those passengers give the guy a free ride? Maybe it was a triangulation of intimidation: The bus driver was intimidated by the change guy, and we were intimidated by not moving. Still, I felt totally defiled.

What exactly is driver protocol in this type of hairy situation? Or what should it be? Maybe a question for Judson True to answer.

— Jenny

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