Thursday, November 17, 2011

Adventures on the Circulator

Each city handles fare evaders differently. Today I took the Circulator's Yellow Line over toward Georgetown to hear a panel of experts talk about the woes of human migration, and I experienced a brief moment of MUNI-ness. Three stops out from Union Station a group of individuals step onto the bus and move to the back of the car, while one woman wearing a heavy wool jacket clearly fails to pay her fare.

"Excuse me mam," the bus driver eventually says.


 "Excuse me mam."

She wears a look of confusion, searching about for a source of the voice.

"Excuse me, MAM!"

She looks about once more and finally finds the furious gaze of the bus driver. He raises his eyebrows in the universal human gesture of "what the hell do you think you're doing?". She stares at him for a moment, and he supplements his massage with an open hand, palm up and flat, that slowly but deliberately directs her attention to the fare box, never breaking his gaze. "Yes?" She asks.

"Aren't you going to pay your fare?" The woman cocked her head to her left in the universal, cross-species sign of curiosity and did not say a word. "Aren't you going to pay the fare?!" he repeated.

"No.... we don't pay the fare."
"What do you mean you don't pay the fare? Of course you pay the fare."

"We don't pay the fare."

"The bus is not free."

"But we don't pay the fare."

"I said the bus is not free."

"We don't pay the fare." The bus driver looked to me, whether for an explanation or support I am not sure, but I could only shrug. Perhaps my understanding of the District's welfare system was too narrow, and this woman may qualify for some kind of transit assistance program. And yet I suppose, there should still be some kind of subsidized fare card, especially since the Circulator is a private enterprise.

"Who are you?"


"Who are you?"

"...What, me?"

"Yes, who are you?!"

"I'm the Lord." The woman's face is straight, with no signs of aggression or deceit. She spoke as though it were obvious. Our bus driver seems to sigh and scoff in the same motion as he throws his left hand into the air. "Really? Really??"

"Yes. I gave you my son and you killed him. Let's call it even."

He looks to me again in awkward frustration. I purse my lips and raise my own eyebrows to say, "Welp..." . The driver looks back to the woman, who still stares back at him. He takes a slow, deep breath and lets out a long sigh - clearly realizing that someone does not pay him enough to manhandle a quiet crazy woman off of his bus. He shakes his head in frustration and returns to the command chair. "Circululator, Georgetown line."

"Bus driver!" another man shouts as we leave. "I'm also the Lord. Can I get my bus fare back?"

"Me too," exclaim two others. "We all are!"

The driver pushes a button for the overhead intercom and leans in close to the mic. "...You're all a bunch of heathens. Please do not distract the driver with your heathen ways."

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