I got on the 22 bus at Pine St. It's not my favorite bus - it goes through some rough neighborhoods, and rides can be tense. But I needed to be in Potrero Hill last night, and the 22 is the only way to get there from my part of the city.
When I boarded, there were three college girls on the bus, two other people, the driver, and somebody who appeared to be the driver's friend. And one other guy. When I first looked at him, I thought he might be dead. Or really, really passed out. He was a big guy, maybe 200 lbs., and not a lot of muscle. He looked to be in his 50s, maybe. And he was surrounded by the stench of stale booze.
But he was passed out, so I figured he wasn't going to cause us any trouble. I sat far away and kept my eyes on the crowd.
A few blocks later, the driver called out to the guy that we'd reached his stop. Didn't he want to get off? He muttered something to the effect of "F*&k you," and went back to sleep, his head now propped up against the window.
The driver was not pleased. But the guy wasn't responsive to the driver's increasing insistence that he got off the bus. We traveled a few more blocks, and the guy woke up enough to dig his fifth of vodka out of his pocket and take a few sips.
While drinking and eating are prohibited on the bus, I have never, ever, in 10 years of riding public transit in this city, seen any driver try to enforce this law.
But this driver was on a mission. He yelled a warning to the passed out guy: put the bottle away or get arrested. Drinking is not permitted on this bus. The guy again muttered obscenities, fumbled the bottle before tucking it back in his pocket, and slumped down in his seat.
We made it Haight Street before there was enough room for the driver to stop the bus. He ordered us all to get off, and called the police.
We slowly got off the bus and huddled in the bus shelter, trying to stay dry. One guy from the neighborhood offered to help haul the drunk dude off the bus. He had his phone out and offered to call some friends to help. Then the good Samaritan took a look at him through the window and offered to sit with the bus driver until the cops came.
Sadly, the next bus came before the cops did, so we didn't get to watch them haul this guy off the bus. I'm pretty sure he'll be spending some time in a holding cell at the jail. I've never seen anybody arrested for public consumption or intoxication before. And earlier this week, I saw seven guys dressed as Santa drunk and passed out on another bus. I guess some bus drivers don't mind also serving as drunk tanks.
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