Monday, March 24, 2008

Where Only the Headline is Accurate

Scraping for news during the trial for an assault which has stirred controversy over racism (and ageism) The Baltimore Sun published a really lame article, pontificating that MTA riders are now terrified. (Apparently we've removed our blinders now?) With the mostly accurate headline "Safety still issue for bus riders Scene is calmer, passengers more aware, but many remain wary" Sun reporter Nick Madigan writes:

Some bus riders in Baltimore brace themselves before stepping aboard. They say they never know what might happen.

Even after transit and city officials vowed to make public transportation safer after a brawl in December that left a 26-year-old woman with broken facial bones, the experience of riding buses is far from serene, some regulars said yesterday.

"Sometimes kids get on the bus and your heart is pounding," said a nursing assistant who, fearing for her safety, gave only her Nigerian first name, Ebun, as she waited for the No. 27 bus in Hampden -- the same route on which the Dec. 4 assaults occurred. "You better keep quiet or you're going to get slammed. You pray to get off safe."
Oh, the drama. I'm with Ebun that there are days you don't know what will happen. That there are verbal fights and you wonder, when is the driver going to get involved? And sometimes the driver pulls over, walks to the back, and kicks the passengers off. And sometimes the verbal sparring ends on its own accord and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. But Madigan is going to the gold, now that he's seen the Wire this season, striking fear into every non-rider he can, by interviewing little old ladies about how scary highschoolers are. (At one point, there is finally some admittance that adults cause more problems. It's about time.) He quotes my pal, spokesperson Jawauna Greene as pointing out that things are improving, and quotes that the mayor says that it's safer than in December, where there were four incidents involving violent activity on and off the bus. But then he finally gets to the scariest fact, which it turns out, is not scaredy pants Ebun (is she even real, Madigan?):

Last year, at least 50 MTA drivers and police officers were assaulted while on duty, according to Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg, a Democrat who represents Baltimore's 41st District. On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee considered a bill introduced by Rosenberg that would stiffen penalties against people convicted of crimes against transit employees.
Holy cow! That's four a month! Which is almost one a week! I'd prefer that you not shank me after I said the F Word, fellow riders, but I'd really appreciate it if you leave the drivers and officers alone. They love this job about as much you do--which is to say, we all have a job, and some days we really love our supervisors, co-workers, and job, and that some days, a drunk guy pukes in the back and we have to clean it up. Or they do. I don't have a job that involves cleaning up body fluids, and for that one fact, I hope the driver is getting paid more than I am.

Ultimately, I think it's just a little presumptous to pretend that fights aren't part of the in-and-out of riding the MTA. The populace of any city can't really to be trusted to behave, and I'm not sure my guard has ever been let down. And why would it? If I did, I'd be bored in the suburbs. It's a trade you make to live in a city and even if it doesn't seem fair, it's one you accept in an automobile-based society when you don't have a car. The end.


kate said...

haha, in the article he said he does treat his shots like movie sets.

i know the feeling, i'm a total groggy mess this morning. i thought the 4 mile bike ride would have woken me up.

Katherine said...

i'm going to feel like an ass if it's the same guy. i'm going to google later and find out.

four miles! i read that as i left for class and wanted to puke. :)