Pantless J-Church passenger wants to know the time
Photo by stephenlienharrell
You thought your Muni ride was entertaining? Here’s what Nat saw …
The other day I get on the J at around 7PM on a Tuesday, and notice that half of the front car is nearly completely empty, save for a single, very large man and several boxes of bananas. As I board and get a closer look, I realize that this man is in fact wearing an oversized rainbow-colored quilt, and literally has maracas woven into his long, dreadlocked hair. He is also wearing thick sunglasses, despite it being quite dark outside, and has very little to speak of in the way of pants.
At some point in our journey, he starts yelling: “WHAT TIME IS IT?” repeatedly. No one immediately answers, so he goes over to the emergency intercom, and starts yelling into this as well. The conductor on the other end is not pleased at this, and after scolding him over the intercom and insisting that this is not what the intercom is for, he comes into the car at the next stop to talk to Maraca Man himself. Un-phased, MM yells at him in person “WELL, WHAT TIME IS IT!?”.
The conductor, obviously very angry at this point, replies “19:15”, and storms back to his cabin. And as he is going back, MM yells back at him “WHAT THE HELL KIND OF TIME IS THAT?! THAT AIN’T NO DAMN TIME I EVER HEARD OF”. I can only hope he eventually found out.
Nice move, Mr. Muni Operator.
As the follow up to this story, after the conductor left the cabin, a passenger who had just got on took it upon himself to attempt controlling this situation. “You better get off this train, buddy,” he spoke sternly and with tight lips. As seemed to be a trend here, Maraca Man was completely unbothered by this second challenger. Again, as was his style, he yelled “I’VE GOT TWO MORE STOPS TO GO AND I’M GOING TO RIDE IT OUT. NOW WHAT TIME IS IT?”
Thus began a tense standoff: tall, well-dressed man in expensive-looking overcoat versus essentially pantless and temporally-confused Maraca Man. I was reminded of the scene at the end of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, in which the camera focuses in turn on the squinted eyes of the challengers, then lingers their eager hands and loaded pistols, and then snaps back to the massive, expansive and jagged environment around them, in this case not the vibrant orange mountains of the American West but rather the drab grey of the Van Ness station.
I shared a few glances with my fellow non-combatant passengers, half laughing, half worrying that we would be collateral damage in this struggle of titans.
The tension built until two stops later, when Maraca Man, unharmed, exited the train. As he left, it became apparent that he, too, had been aware of the Western parallel, as he yelled back at the accosting stranger, “WAY TO GO, DIRTY HARRY!”
I can only hope I run into him again, the true victor in this struggle.
Maybe the conductor could have followed up with,”Well, sir, the little hand is on the seven and the big hand is on the three. Is that clear?”