What We Talk About When We Talk About a Muni Rider Like Tim

muni stop by lynn friedland
Photo by Lynn Friedland

Muni rider Rory sent us this thoughtful letter about a fellow regular passenger named Tim. We have all known or met someone like Tim, and we’ve all probably looked away awkwardly when someone like Tim murmurs to himself on the bus. Rory describes one evening when looking away was not enough. What would you do?

Tim is one of those guys you meet on the bus without a filter between his thoughts and speech. It seems pretty common on Muni: thoughts just come out as psycho-babble and he could go on for a very long time. Our bus schedules are quite similar so I run into him on the 38-L a lot, but this particular ride last night made me question Muni practices and passenger reactions.

Nerves were brought to the breaking point last night when the driver insisted on over-crowding a bus that was already full.

Tim went on for what seemed like a non-stop aggressive rant for 20 minutes. At that point, a passenger asked Tim to exit the bus or he’ll “call the cops.” Tim lost his temper and got into a shouting match with the passenger. Tim got off the bus in a furious state and there were cheers from some of the passengers.

I question if that was the right way of handling someone like Tim. It seemed weird to cheer for that kind of interaction. I’m not sure if Tim is the type who could lose all sense of restraint and cross the line with those around him. It’s hard to say if you might be risking an attack or injury if you get involved. The guy who asked Tim to get off the bus was a giant of a man, and I have no doubt that he can handle himself if the situation became physical – maybe that’s why he felt comfortable to do so. Yet, asking Tim to exit the bus or else you’ll “call the cops” leaves me wondering if that only added fuel to the fire. Is asking Tim if everything is cool the proper way of dealing with him? I have no idea.

I’m sure Muni has trained their drivers to deal with these situations, but my driver just kept driving as if nothing was going on. I think maybe drivers turn a blind eye to a lot of things after awhile to keep their own sanity. Is Muni doing anything about these kind of events to ensure they don’t happen again?

I don’t know about the best way to deal with situations like this, yet these situations happen all the time. What do you think fellow riders or bus drivers should do when a passenger like Tim gets out of hand?

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