Sunday, January 30, 2011

Epic MBTA Experience - A Process Recording From A Macro Social Worker



As I type this, it's 1:22am, and I just need to get this somewhere outside of my brain before I can fall asleep.  Let me warn you that this is a long and detailed post.  But, I promise it's a worthwhile read.

So, today was an exciting day.  I was going out with friends to celebrate a wonderful woman's birthday.  There was even karaoke at the restaurant!  It was so much fun!

"Pick Up" Truck
On my way to the restaurant, I decided to take the 86 bus, which would take me there directly.  As I was waiting for the bus, a red truck stopped at the red light.  The passenger in the car rolled down his window (that's wasn't automated), so I thought that perhaps they needed directions.

Alas, he was trying to hit on me.  "Where are you going?"

Being me, I of course engaged.  I repeated that I was going out.  Trying to be cool, he said that they were going to South Station.  South Station?  Not impressive, sorry.

I just want to ask, does that really work?  The boyfriend says that it just needs to work once for it to be worth it.  But really?  Has that worked?

Lost Wallet
Well, the bus finally arrived, and I continued to listen to my music.  We arrive at the Harvard Square, a major hub for bus and subway transfers.

As people were leaving, I noticed that 1 man turned around to check if he left something.  He reached over to the seat in front of me and grabbed a wallet.  It wasn't his wallet.  There was a couple sitting in front of me.  I thought, "Oh man, that's the worst.  I'm glad he saw it and will give it back to the other guy."

I watched the man with the wallet get off the bus.  I watched him slowly walk towards the couple and their friends (who all looked like they were heading to dinner together).  I watched him hang back behind the group and put the wallet in his pocket.  Then they disappeared.

I must have had a look on my face because a woman who sat down in front of me turned around and smiled at me.  I couldn't believe I just saw that.  I felt horrible.  I felt like I could have done something.  But I assumed that he would return the wallet to its rightful owner.  I thought perhaps that he would do the "right thing."

And as the bus left the Harvard Square terminal, I thought about how difficult things must be for that man that he felt he could benefit from keeping that wallet.  I thought about how horrible that other man would feel once he realizes that his wallet fell out of his pocket.  I thought about how I will never put anything in my pockets ever again.

Last Straws of Anger
On my way home, I totally misjudged my timing.  I waited about 1 hour in the cold for the right bus to finally arrive.  I probably could have just taken a longer way and stayed more warm, but I stupidly opted for waiting longer to take the route that would lead to the least amount of walking.

So, I go from the 86 to the 66 to the B line in Allston.  I'm at the Harvard and Commonwealth Ave. stop, noticing that there are quite a number of people waiting so the T should be arriving soon.

Suddenly, I hear some commotion over my music.  I look to my right and I see a car stopped at a light, 2 guys and 3 girls.  One of the girls angrily walks past me, and I see that the driver has decided to get out of his car to give this girl a piece of his mind.  The friends try to hold the man back, pointing out that he was trying to hit a girl.

Now, I'm not really a fan of violence (though even I will admit that I can feel violent at times of extreme anger).  I'm definitely not a fan of domestic violence.  But if you're a person on the street trying to act tough and talking smack, you better be ready to continue your tough act regardless of your gender.

The angry man starts walking back to his car much to the delight of the people stuck behind him.  He starts reaching into his jacket, and I start thinking, "Oh my god, please don't have a gun...please don't have a gun..."  But he takes his jacket off and throws it in his SUV.  He starts walking back towards the group.  I notice that he has a cast on his left wrist.

I back away a bit, knowing that there wasn't any stopping this man.  I see the T coming down the tracks, and I worry that someone will get run over.  But the man starts to really get physical with the group.

At this point, I've got my phone out (which is quickly running out of battery from all the bus schedule checking I was doing in the cold) and am calling 911.

The two guys, one of whom puts his case of beer down on the ground, start pushing him back.  The man swings.  I don't know if he hit any of the guys.  One of the guys hits back.  The man falls back and hits his head on the ground.  He's still for maybe 10 seconds.  He gets up and is bleeding from his lip.  Blood is on the ground and on his shirt.

Meanwhile, the T has opened its doors and people are trying to get off the T, trying not to step on the man on the ground.  One woman stops to help him get up, and she sees people on the T laughing.  She gets angry at them and hits the window with her palm.  I let her know that I've called 911 and the police and ambulance is coming.

As I finish my phone call, all the people on the T are commenting.  "I'm going to be a witness because that lady hit the window."  "That man really busted his lip."  "Anything anyone says to that man would be 'smart.'"

I look at all these people and say, "Really?  Not the most appropriate thing to say...I mean, no one calls 911 anymore for anything.  If anyone's going to be a witness, I think I'd be more appropriate."

The sirens approach from all sides, police and paramedics together.  I tell the police that I called 911 and tell them what I saw.  I also tell them that the other people who were fighting the man (who finally moved his SUV out of the way) were on the T.  I told them 2 boys and 3 girls, one of the boys has a case of beer.

I overhear the T driver say, "UGH! What time is it?? I just want to move the train and get home!"

Some people leave the T just to walk.  But soon, the police let me know that I can get on the T, and they give the driver the okay to leave.  The group who was involved got off the T, so they didn't need my eyewitness report anymore.

On the ride up the hill, a mere 3 stops away, I retell the story to someone who didn't see a thing.  We joked about how he was able to catch the T because of the fight, and that he would retell the story as though he witnessed it.  I told him to say there was a unicorn involved as well.

At my stop, several girls walk behind me.  One of them says, "Is this really my life?"

At this point, I couldn't even believe what I heard.  I turned around and said, " isn't.  It's that man's life, and you were luckily not involved."  We laughingly said goodnight and try not to get into any fights with angry people.

And here I am.
I feel like I could really go on.  I feel like I could insert an entire paper based on the ethnicities of the people involved in each of these stories.  But I'm leaving that information out because that's not what it's about.

But, here is this social worker's take on the 3 stories.

I joke about the guys who call out or try to talk to you from their car.  But when you really think about it, it's safe in their car.  They can hit on you and even if you reject them outright, they have to keep driving anyway.  They're in "control" of the situation, so it's the safest way to hit on girls - who, in the scheme of the dating world, often have more control of the situation (trust me on this, ladies. I can write a whole different post about this..and I just might).

I've already mentioned that I feel like if you consciously steal, you must really feel like it is your best option, what will benefit you right away.  I wonder how little financial control one must have to feel compelled to steal.  I feel horrible for the man who lost his wallet, and I hope that he was able to fix whatever he needed to fix to prevent more money from being stolen.  But, I do feel like it's a good thing to be a little more conscious of ones belongings no matter where you are.

I have so many thoughts about the final story.  It frustrates me that I was the only other person other than the T driver to call 911.  I know I wasn't the only person who witnessed this.  I know that one of the 5 people in the involved group could have called 911 before it escalated the way it did.

That man clearly needs to work a bit on his anger management.  But this was the final straw of the evening.  Whatever happened to him prior to this moment must have been so angering, so frustrating, that one little girl's snarky comment put him over the deep end.  He was even posturing and insisting that he could kick someone's ass as the police stood in front of him.  There was nothing more for him to lose.

It's fascinating to me how people on the T assumed so many things about the people involved when they hadn't witnessed a thing.  And for the girls at the end to turn it into something that "happened to them," I don't know.  It makes me wonder a lot about the selfishness of their age and their generation.  It makes me think about what I would have done and said if I was in my early 20's.

When I was in my early 20's, and I saw something strange or not safe, I called 911.  I knew that I'm not a hero, but that things can easily escalate if the proper officials weren't notified.  People think it's not their business, so why get involved?  But I say, people sometimes need to act to prevent it from becoming their business.

Finally, I just want to say that I just happened to be a witness to these things, and I'm writing my observations.  These things definitely didn't "happen to me."  But I don't mind being the stories conduit to others.

1 comment:

  1. whoa...that' was like really intense..i realized that i wasnt breathing while reading... fewf!!!

    BIG HUG!!! :D


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