The Bus, the Bridge, and the Jumper

108 rider
Photo by juicyrai

Sometimes an everyday adventure can turn into something quite extraordinary. Muni rider Terry shares this gripping tale.

Saturday afternoon my partner and I were taking the 108 off Treasure Island to catch a movie downtown. About a fourth of the way across the bridge, the bus driver stops along the right side of the bridge next to a middle-aged Latino male in a dark blue T-shirt and jeans using the yellow emergency call box. The bus driver asked if he was in trouble or needed a tow. The man just stood there on the phone looking bewildered. At that moment, I had a gut feeling this was not a guy stuck with an auto problem.

The next part confirmed my gut feeling. The bus driver noticed the guy looking bewildered and yelled out to him, “It’s not worth it man, get on the bus and I will take you downtown.” The man looked up at the bus driver and yelled back, “I just want to go!” He then dropped the call box phone, looked around flustered, and then climbed over the wall of the Bay Bridge. Everyone on the bus screamed, some stood up to look, and I turned my head to look away.

Everyone on the bus was a bit freaked out. I and others tried calling 911 while the bus driver contacted dispatch about the situation. 911 were busy and the bus driver had no choice but to drive onward. Some passengers on the bus stood watching behind the bus to see if he was going to jump. A mother was covering her child’s face while reciting a prayer, and the rest just seemed confused and traumatized. When the bus driver reached downtown, he lightened the mood with a thick Jamaican accent, made everyone laugh, and thanked everyone for riding Muni that afternoon.

During the movie, my partner and I hoped he had not jumped. Checked the news later that day and found out he was talked out of it, but the situation left many on the bridge delayed. Combine the release of the Giants game with that and traffic went on for hours into the night even on our way back home. Still, I am glad he didn’t jump.

I’ve heard how San Francisco’s bridges are the suicide capital of the world. I even remember seeing the haunting documentary called The Bridge about it, but I hoped never to see something like that ever occur — seeing a person giving up on life, the flustered look of hopelessness, the frustration in his face, and that gut feeling of despair. The world we live in can be quite rough sometimes, but this situation has left me feeling more appreciative for respecting life itself.

Thanks for sharing, Terry. What’s your Muni story?

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