Some thug spent most of ten minutes trying to beef with me on the light rail last night on the way into–this is a real station; look it up–Watt-Manlove. I deliberately tuned out most of his screed, on the theory that depriving him of an audience would deprive him of the fun he was hoping to have and that deescalation would be safer than waiting for the police to respond. It was when he blocked two different doors on his way off the train, opening the second one from outside to berate and glare at me after blocking the first one on his way off the train, that I confirmed for sure that he was a thug, not just a loudmouthed punk. He was within seconds of the operator getting on the PA system to order passengers away from the doors by the time he finally walked away, to menace God knows whom else on the streets. That takes a stouter set of stones than it takes to nurse the remnants of a split of champagne on the trolley while freestyling about how the guy across the aisle is a “fat cracka” in a society unfortunately beset by a proliferation of “bitch-ass niggas.”
There are those who would insist that this was a racial problem, but really it was a crime problem. There’s hardly a person in Sacramento whose admiration I cherish less. I don’t give a shit about this jailbird’s thoughts on what a fat white bitch-ass nigger I am. I do mind that he tried to put me in fear for my safety. It takes more than some fool mumbling racial slurs on the trolley to get my guard up: say, repeatedly raising one’s voice and making erratic movements from immediately across the aisle while I ignore the performance as studiously as I can. This dude reflected on nobody but himself and a few dozen or hundred other of Sacramento’s worst parolees and ex-cons, and that’s irrespective of race. I’m not the fool who’s cool with a white guy behaving like that right in front of me in close quarters. That shit is not okay on anyone’s part.
#TeshTips: Some riders have the social proof to licentiously use America’s most reviled racial slurs on common carriers. They’re usually from Rancho Cordova. You and I aren’t. Let us give thanks. Or, as that cashier at the Safeway on Alhambra told the other customer, “He lives by the light rail station in Rancho.” I didn’t need to be reminded, but I guess the other guy did, and I’d volunteered the information myself. Also, I was the one who had made the decision to *STAY, NOT LIVE* out by Sunrise, immediately next door to the guy who called me “sir,” “dog,” “boss,” and “man” right after he got done trying to whup another dude’s ass on the platform for having sold meth to his kid sister.
I have no fucking idea how Lester Holt is from Rancho. #TheMoreYouKnow, the more you realize that not everything in this world makes any goddamned sense. I guess there’s some kind of middle-class community in the neighborhood that’s off the train by seven every night and also isn’t in the news for murdering anyone on Routier Road. The latter, thank God, is who rides the bus in Land Park and Pocket. It would be nice if any of those lines ran on weekends, or, depending on the clientele extended service would encourage, not nice.
The deeper problem here, of course, is that Sacramento can’t figure how what the hell to do with its intersectional criminal, behavioral health, and substance abuse communities. Turning Rancho Corvoda into the banlieue works great for anyone who isn’t also priced out to fucking Rancho. Somehow last night was the night that RT didn’t have any security officers on the train to simmer my boy the fuck down. This didn’t stop the Rancho Cordova police from parking two cruisers on the platform at Power Inn that afternoon while their sworn drivers did some unexplained shit on the trains. Love too have a police force that is allowed to park on the sidewalk in nonemergency situations but not expected to deter street crime on the transit system that it patrols.
I’m still convinced that there are awfully few people who belong in jail, but my swing shift trolley buddy isn’t necessarily one of them. If the Menendez brothers were on the trolley, they’d probably try to teach me chess. Ione isn’t that far away. Stephanie Lazarus, whose doppelganger I saw in a floral print house dress on the Gold Line a few years ago, is all right. Hey, Wettlaufer, you ought to try getting a date with the Ruetten fellow; I hear he’s quite handsome and charming. That was unfair; other than serial murderers, most murderers are pretty reformable. Plenty of others are discharged from prison without hardcore criminal proclivities or behavioral problems. The trouble is with the ones who aren’t, such as the one I got to ride with yesterday evening. I don’t know for a fact that he was in the system, but I can’t see how he wasn’t. CDCR does sweet fuck-all to rehabilitate its problem inmates. If they’re too much trouble to put on a work crew, they’re stashed on some hell yard until they reach their release date and converted into some hapless local government’s problem. That’s why we’ve got this thug on the loose who, let’s face it, is on the fast track back to jail if he keeps getting up in other riders’ faces on the light rail. In the meantime, innocents are in unnecessary danger because no level or agency of government in California is able and willing to control him. Is it any wonder, though, that the judicial apparatus that insists on keeping the Menendez boys in hoosegow for life as heinous dangers to society doesn’t know its ass from a hole in the ground when it’s time to release someone with manifest behavioral problems?
This is the sort of thing that makes me miss Philadelphia, a city of broad shoulders and vigorous natural law whose drivers and private citizens police bad characters on the bus so effectively that the formal police hardly ever have to be called. That is reserved for the aftermath of the knifepoint groping attacks and hammer murders that are traditional on the subway system.
Gotta love any jurisdiction where the security apparatus is overbearing and yet ineffectual. In this context, it’s hard to resist the appeal of foothill towns that basically exclude the rough street element. It’s bad praxis and ethics, but for those lucky enough to be able to get up the hill, it works. Whose place is it to tell anyone else who’s competent enough to get out of Dodge to wait an unforeseeable number of additional years or decades for the dysfunctional valley towns and the even worse state criminal justice system to finally do something about the inadequately supervised assholes who fuck up the light rail system ten hours a day and all day on weekends? Victor Davis Hanson is right: woke and idealistic though one may be, the ground is just more defensible up there.
Good luck getting any transit-oriented development into actual transit-oriented use in a city with a teeming, entrenched transit-oriented unemployable underclass. Sacramento Regional Transit isn’t a public transportation agency; it’s an outpatient psychiatric and social services pavilion. It’s one thing to convince people that trolleys are fly as shit as an ideal; it’s quite another to convince them that it’s worth their time and patience to put up with an expensive system whose ridership is otherwise the hardest cases off every skid row and Section Eight complex in the service area. It takes a big-ass lot of normies to push a system back over the tipping point that turned it into a fleet of hell of wheels loser cruisers.
I’m not complaining that poor people ride RT; that’s the case with every local transit agency everywhere. I’m saying that it has a number of lines, including its entire light rail system, whose riders are routinely drawn exclusively from the most shambolic, disreputable, menacing, hardened, criminally inclined, and flamingly mentally ill people in the entire fucking county. I’m saying that it is not uncommon to step aboard and see no one else in the entire vehicle who is capable of behaving normally and appropriately in a mainstream professional setting for five minutes. Exhorting people who can afford alternate means of transportation to take RT means badgering them to allow extra travel time in order to be the only normal, functional people on a likelier than not dirty vehicle otherwise full of horrific cases that they’d otherwise see only in extreme institutional settings. I’m rarely the least bit afraid for my safety on public transit, but I’ve often come away from trips on RT wondering what in all hell I was doing wasting half an hour in the midst of such incorrigible, unreachable losers. San Diego MTS is another good agency for such experiences, especially during off-peak runs through downtown, not a particular surprise for a city that has been hosing its streets down with bleach in an effort to stop a shitborne Hepatitis A outbreak.
SEPTA is nothing like this. Like the city it serves, it has some serious failures of cleanliness, but I don’t recall ever being on a SEPTA bus or trolley where most of the other passengers didn’t look normal. The old 100 high-speed line, running between shitty termini in Norristown and Upper Darby on a diagonal through a very pleasant and fancy swath of the Main Line, notwithstanding the locals along the way, experiences socioeconomic and racial pole reversals in its ridership between rush hour, which adheres religiously to bankers’ hours, and off-peak, but the off-peak crowd is mostly normal, functional, upstanding people commuting to work or going to medical appointments or the like. This has been the case on every trip I can recall taking anywhere on the SEPTA system. It’s pretty much people who look like they have or indisputably have a sensible reason for traveling across town on the bus, and the one guy who’s occasionally blurting out that he used to have family on Torresdale Avenue (“Dayyum! Shee-yut!”) is sitting somewhere conveniently out of everyone else’s way, peaceably and still.
A bourgeois supremacist might object to contamination by the poors on SEPTA. A person who’s perfectly at ease around the poor in general might become completely fed up with RT’s off-peak services because of the ubiquity of people who are unable and often enough unwilling to function halfway normally in society. It’s a shitshow: some guy opening the slit window above his seat to throw an orange peel out of a moving train, a homeless guy with anger management problems yelling at the fare inspector and anyone else within earshot while lunging around in the stairwell, assholes blocking the doors while the operator barks at them over the PA system to get out of the way so the train can depart, some sauntering yardboy with a jumpy look in his eyes whose pants would be around his ankles if he didn’t have them cinched up with a length of burlap rope for a belt, the front half of the lead car taken up by roller gimps doing electric bumper cars in the aisle every time they board and alight, but not all of them too disabled to get up out of their scooters with a healthy-looking gait and range of motion, like, cool, I’ma stand all the way up like a more or less able-bodied adult and then sit down on this-here seat, so as my rig can have its own parking space right behind the only wheelchair-accessible door on the whole dang train.
#TIMMEH is canon, guys. This is what they call * CLEAN * SAFE * CONVENIENT *. It’s always great and not at all Communist Chinese to reify a public transit system worth riding by putting a ridiculous slogan on the side of the trolley. I guess the budget line item for that happy horseshit is less than the combined line items for actually making the system good enough to attract riders who look like they have somewhere to be at a specific time sometime in the rest of their lives. There might just be a ten or twenty percent chance that a given RT run on one of the bad lines will be colonized against normies, but every other form of transportation in the region, including walking and bicycling in neighborhoods that aren’t overwhelmed by the hopelessly down and out, consistently wards off the third-party dipshits.
On the positive side, a single-ride light rail ticket used to be valid for two hours of this shit, but now it’s valid only for an hour and a half. First prize: one week in Toledo; second prize: two weeks. This is an excellent model for passengers who were hoping to run errands or some shit without fishing out another $2.75 for a return ticket. It’s a disgrace that this city and its transit system are so fucked up, but the $19.50 that I’ve contributed towards the clusterfuck this week is less taxing than my efforts to chronicle the mess. Fat Cracka out.