“No bikes on the first car, please. No bikes on the first car.”
Clearly not making room for her and her bike, I purposefully didn’t give up my spot against the bike wall. Her ears weren’t clogged by earplugs like mine; she didn’t have an excuse not to hear the announcement. I almost told her, “You need to switch cars. No bikes on the first car.”
I said nothing. Nobody said anything. The BART operator gave up on it. There were no more PSAs.
We made it one stop when I heard an angry man yell, “BITCH!” The woman with him was trying to calm him down as they left the second car and entered the first car. A few eyes flitted to the couple, including mine, trying to assess if the woman was being assaulted. He continued, hotly spouting, “So you want me to do stand here and do nothing?” They looked clean together, and she didn’t look a bit perturbed or threatened. Almost matter-of-fact about whatever was going on. I decided that if he made one more outburst at her, I would yell, “Are you okay?” and place myself between them.
New passengers pushed their way past the couple. Suddenly the aisle was clogged. Two Irish girls, newly immigrated to the first car from the second car, filled the public transportation air with Blarney-tinged chatter. Then everyone’s eyes flitted and fixed on the scene through the glass doors. Just on the other side of the glass, a man was spinning another man. There was wrestling, an ongoing tousle. It wasn’t clear if it was teenage horsing or adult fisticuffs.
The man who had yelled was on the intercom now, communicating something privately to the BART operator at the front of the train. It became clearer that the spinning men behind the glass were gnashing in anger, not laughing as open-mouthed hyenas.
The story unfolded.
The younger man approached the other, asked to sit down.
The older man told him firmly no, that he had to elevate his feet.
The younger man said he just wanted to sit.
The older man ran his mouth. Started to yell at the younger man. “What are you, some kind of homosexual?” He went off on every other kind of people (minus his own). Then they started fighting.
The man who had yelled went back into the second car. The fighting men were pulled apart. The BART police arrived. Paperwork, reporting. We sat and stood on the train. We were stopped at a station, but it’s an unsafe station, and I calculated the mileage between this place and my home. Walking wouldn’t be wise. Bill was out on a film shoot. I was still smartphoneless. I would have to stay on the train.
As would others. A woman in scrubs said, “I just want to go home!” The girl with the bike and I started hitting it off with the things we were muttering. The train got going again.
An excited man, hyped from having helped pull the fighters apart and newly immigrated to the first car, bubbled to us about how he was late for his date. He refused to say “she” or “he,” just “they,” in reference to the other party. The girl with the bike and I wished him luck when he deboarded one stop later. As space cleared, the girl with the bike leaned it against a newly open wall across from me. She was “far away” from me now. We did not reconnect.
The situation wasn’t particularly scary. I never felt that I was in any danger. We were just a bunch of cats curiously watching betas in a fish bowl.
I was glad I didn’t tell her to move with her bike.
Can you tell I’ve been reading a lot of Lorrie Moore?