So maybe a few people are curious about what happened the other night, although you wouldn't know it by the number of responses I got on Twitter and Facebook. Last week I was helping my friend Kurt pack his things in semi-orderly fashion so he could move on Friday, so I was at his place a few times during the week. On Thursday night I caught the bus from South Philly to Market Street to catch the Market-Frankford El at 8th. I was lucky in that I managed to catch both the bus and the El with little or no waiting. Or so I thought.
I was standing next to the doors on the opposite side of the doors that opened to the platform, because there were few seats available and I was carrying a laundry bag with some stuff in it, and I didn't want the bulky bag on my lap or disturbing the person next to me. So there I stood, reading the paper.
There were 2 or 3 young black guys -- teenagers or a little older -- in the seats on the same side as where I was standing. They got up as if they were getting out around the York-Dauphin station, but instead stood near the doors, and then were joined by another couple of guys who arrived from the next car. The train arrived at the Allegheny station at almost 8:35 pm, and they all left the train except the guy directly in front of me, who stayed on and had his arms outstretched as his hands were on both poles by the doors.
There was a brief delay for some reason -- the train's conductor later said he thought the others were holding the door open -- and then, just as the computer voice began to announce "Doors are closing,"
the guy suddenly turned and punched me in the side of the head, hitting my left ear, and jumped off the train just as the doors closed. I don't know if that's where he was aiming or if I flinched when he turned. Although I wasn't hyper-aware of everything, the group's behavior did seem off so I may have tried to duck in vain.
Anyway, the blow left a ringing in my ear (which subsided fairly quickly) and knocked off my glasses. I put my glasses back on and called Kurt to tell him what happened. I was upset, but not hysterical. He asked if I reported it and I said I wasn't going to bother because I wasn't looking closely enough at them to give any kind of description. As I kept talking, a number of fellow passengers started telling me to report it, and pointed out the security cameras in place in quite a few spots on the train. So I called 911, was connected to the SEPTA police and when the train arrived at Frankford Terminal I stayed on the platform to meet the cops, who were there within a minute. Two other passengers told the conductor what happened, and he talked to them as well. Both he and the cops took my information for their reports, and since they knew the number of the train car, it's easy enough for them to check the security cameras. Within minutes I was on my route 66 bus going home.
So there's the report. Now comes some observations (not in any particular order).
The only reason I bothered to report it was because of the security cameras, and also, although this idea came to me later, because I want it to be an official part of the crime statistics. The cops said they would be in touch but I haven't heard from them yet. I honestly doubt something will come of it. I wouldn't be surprised if the cameras didn't work or somehow the video was lost, and even so, how clear of an image of any of their faces could be captured? And as I said, I wasn't paying very close attention so it's not like I could identify them in a lineup or something. If I don't hear from the SEPTA police in a week or so, I'm going to call and make sure an official report was filed, and that the information on their notebooks wasn't just thrown away.
I also have to point out how lucky I was that this was all that happened. All five or six of them could have attacked me at once. He could have stabbed me instead of just punching me. They could have tried to rob me, of my wallet or of my beloved B.T. (a.k.a. my HTC Evo View tablet, which was in my backpack the entire time I was on the El). I also am annoyed that I had no way to either hit him back, or at least trip him as he escaped through the doors. There was simply no time for me to react.
And, as I said in this previous post about an unpleasant SEPTA experience, this is why we will remain a racist society for a long, long, long time, no matter how much progress we seem to have made. It would be soooooooooooo easy to be racist after something like that, and say things like "this is how black people are, they're animals" or worse. But because I have a functioning brain I know that bad behavior comes from all ethnic backgrounds. I don't think it's racist to say, however, that I have little doubt that these guys will end up in prison or dead at a young age, because it's obvious that's the violent road on which they're traveling.
And this is why society is deteriorating -- because the politicians refuse to take the necessary steps to improve our nation. The rich and powerful get richer and more powerful as their taxes stay obscenely low, if they even pay taxes at all, while the rest of us get worse and worse off, the schools continue to fall apart, kids who do get to college are practically entombed in debt and can't find meaningful jobs to pay it off, health care gets more expensive for those who have it, and God help the poorest of the poor or the homeless because hardly anyone in power even gives the slightest damn about them. And it leads to more and more violence. Eventually this will just collapse upon itself and the United States as we know it will cease to exist. Either we'll be a full-fledged fascist state or there will be such utter chaos that no one will be in charge.
This is one time I'm glad I'm 50 years old, because I'll be dead before all of this comes to pass. Probably.