Teenage Train Terrorists Part II or You gotsa be startin’ somethin’

The last entry reminded me of an another incident that happened on the Green line involving a teenager who was trying to start something with people minding their own business.
I was on the Green Line to Greenbelt on Sunday morning to meet the Help in College Park to go to his church. I had my newspaper and was more than likely listening to something on the iPhone (sometimes I just leave the headphones on with nothing playing), minding my own business. The train was sparsely occupied and I was in the center so I could see three other people seated and two or three standing at the doors. The people near the doors got off except this one guy, I think. The guy got my attention, I can’t remember if he tapped my shoulder or waved me and said something. I took one head phone off and said, “What?” He said something, with a big smile on his face, sort of laughing. Whatever he said did not register in my mind as English. I probably said no thank you and “Good-bye” and put my headphone back on. He moved on and I saw him get off the train. Well a few more stops he was back on my car. This time he was getting into people’s personal spaces. He leaned over to one large woman seated and she leaned back then he moved over to a man about 50 something, maybe South Asian or Latino or Arabian origin, and really got into his face. I mean the young man put his face about 5 inches from the face of man sitting near the door minding his own business. The man responded and started yelling and cursing at the young man with an accent. The young man cursed at the man in clear English, started grabbing his crotch and making threatening gestures. When the train pulled into West Hyattsville they both got off.
He was looking for trouble and we metro riders minding our own business are easy targets. Him and the gang of teenage girls are creating an environment ripe for the next Bernie Goetz.

Teenage Train Terrorists

I have a friend who lives about as far from the PG Plaza metro as I do from the Shaw metro. He drives to the metro, parks in the garage and takes the metro into the city. One (but not his only) reason for doing so was to avoid the Northwestern High School kids. When I was commuting into Maryland I would encounter some Northwestern boys who I swear were trying to see how obnoxious or how ignorant they could be, loudly. Occasionally an adult, who wasn’t the bus driver*, would turn around and rebuke them. Very occasionally, because most of us just wanted to get to our destination and tried drowning out the degrading sex talk, the ignorant racism, and glorification of violence. Currently, my commute rarely has teenagers, and the offensive chatter regarding Latinos, the Plan to keep the Black man down and other theories, is at a lower volume.
Yesterday, I had some Christmas related shopping to do and was heading home around 6pm on the Green Line to Greenbelt. At Mt. Vernon Sq. three screaming yelling teenage girls boarded onto a crowded car. They remained loud and decided it would be fun to bang hard and loud on the Plexiglas partition during the ride. I’d been finding the ride home weary 2 stops before since I transferred at Gallery Place, and couldn’t wait to get the heck out of the system. Doors open and apparently the girls decided to strike out at everyone disembarking. They called the tall black man in his 30s or 40s and ‘old man’ and the thin 20-30 something woman behind him one of them snatched at the woman’s midsection.
I don’t know if they were trying to poke the woman in the stomach, or snatch something off of her person or what, but I turned around on the platform and verbally confronted the two girls who were on the door side of the partition.
“What is wrong with you!” I asked.
*giggle* giggle blah blah something. Probably an insult in there.
“What is wrong with you? Are you all right? You know what you did was wrong!”
“What you gonna do about it? Hit me?” one of the girls responded.
“No, I’m not going to hit you, I’m telling you, you did wrong.”
“You did wrong.”
*Door chimes*
One girl made a lame attempt at a kicking motion, but I was a good 4-5 feet away. The door closed with them still giggling. My heart went out to the poor people stuck on the train with them on the way to U Street and points beyond.
In practice metro riders tend to tolerate even the most obnoxious verbal abuse, no matter how racist, classist, sexist, homophobic, ignorant, or hateful. However, don’t you think that when it turns even slightly physical it should be called out?

* I have long ceased to belive Metro drivers will stop people from doing anything obnoxious or illegal, except when they have to move people to get a wheelchair on.