Just Another Night Riding the 22
It was a Friday night and I was on my way home from work. I had just gotten off BART at 16th Street and walked over to the bus stop to catch the 22. At first, everything seemed normal. Lots of people were begging for change, people were talking on their cell phones, other were people standing around waiting for the bus and tons of people were walking by in the general area. It seemed like another normal night at 16th and Mission.
As I waited for the 22, I heard some rowdiness over yonder, behind me. I looked over my shoulder and I saw that there were some guys goofing around with each other. They weren’t yelling. Just bumping into each other and being loud.
A few seconds later, these guys walked around to the front of the bus shelter where I was standing. There were three of them. Three Hispanic guys who spoke only Spanish. They were all over the place. One guy was even wandering in the street. I noticed that each of them had a bottle of tequila in their hand.
Suddenly, a black guy came out of nowhere and started speaking broken Spanish to these guys. The black guy walked in the street a bit and around the bus shelter, in plain sight of me, but out of view of the cameras located at the intersection. I’m not sure what triggered it, but one of the Spanish-speaking guys must have pissed off the black guy. This black guy was a young kid with nothing to lose. He seemed to be by himself and started talking mad shit to these guys in Spanish. It almost seemed like he was trying to egg them on into a fight. As soon as the black guy walked right in front of me, he lifted up his sweatshirt to show the fact that he had a gun in his drawers. Everyone standing in the bus shelter bolted out of the area, including myself. The other guys saw the gun, but continued talking back to the black guy. It was like the threat of the black guy having a gun and using it didn’t even phase them. These guys were obviously intoxicated.
At this point, the 22 was on its way towards the bus stop, but not coming fast enough. I didn’t know if it was safer to start walking home or just chill on the corner (in plain view of the cameras) until the bus arrived. It seemed like as soon as the black guy had appeared, he was gone.
When the bus finally arrived, everyone charged the bus. Usually people wait for the other people to get off the bus, but not this time. All of us who had been waiting for the 22 were scared shitless and sought the safety of the bus. I was surprised to see that the three drunk guys had also gotten on the bus. One guy even fell down in the back stairwell. Neither one of the guys hid their bottle of booze. All three were loud, obnoxious and stumbling around all over one another in the back of the bus. The Muni driver seemed to turn a blind eye.
One of the guys decided to sit next to me and pulled out a knife. I saw the knife, got up and walked to the front of the bus. When I told the Muni driver that one of the guys had a knife, he calmly told me that the guy I was referring to had gotten off the bus. I looked back and the guy with the knife was still on the bus. What the fuck?
I decided that it was probably safer for me to stay on the bus than walk home at this point so I took a seat in the front of the bus, as close to the driver as possible. Our bus rode all the way up 16th Street in total chaos. No one said a word to each other, but you could see the fear in everyone’s eyes. It was a trip. The drunk guys took over the whole back of the bus, stumbling around, being loud and chugging from their tequila bottles. It was the longest three bus stops in my life.
As soon as the bus reached 16th and Bryant, we could all hear sirens nearby. Sirens in the city usually aren’t a big deal. The sirens weren’t even a big deal to the drunk, knife-carrying trio on the bus. In fact, the guys started mimicking the siren noises off in the distance. The sirens kept getting closer and closer and that’s when I realized that the bus wasn’t moving. The Muni driver had set the emergency brake on the bus. Those sirens weren’t just random sirens. Those sirens and lights were coming straight towards the bus.
By the time the drunks realized that the cops were coming towards the bus, it was too late. One of the guys ran out of the back door, but the cops had surrounded the bus and tackled the guy to the ground. The funny part about the situation was watching his two friends chicken-out by staying on the bus, hiding their bottles under their clothes and slumping in their seats. I mean, did they really think they were going to get away with this? I guess they were drunk enough and dumb enough to think so.
I had never been so scared before on Muni before.
I have to give it to the Muni driver. At first, I was pissed off because he didn’t react the way I thought he should have when I pointed out that one of the guys had a knife. But in the end, he reacted just the way he should — calm, cool and collective. Little did I know that driver had already called the cops and set up for the guys to get swooped up by the police at 16th and Bryant.
Photo by Flickr user romap