on the metro: Excuse me, Sir? Sir? Sir?
I had a bit of light entertainment that went all sour on my metro ride in this morning. The car had a beggar, a pretty aggressive one. Had he not been saying anything, it wouldn’t have been apparent that he was anything but a commuter, even if he was ill-dressed. Not poorly dressed, he had on a decent shirt and khakis, it just didn’t appear to fit him very well. The shirt was hastily tucked in making the button line skew wildly and the pants being a bit large and him having no belt. His hair was a bit of a wild combed-out afro and he appeared to be missing an eye.
Unfortunately he wasn’t a silent rider, he was walking up and down the car asking people “Excuse me Sir? Sir? Sir? Sir?…” until he got an acknowledgment and would ask for change to get something to eat. If the person ignored him, he’d just keep on trying to get their attention for a few seconds more before moving on. If they said no, he’d start saying “Please, c’mon please…” and launch into a little hardship story, but nothing too detailed. Then he’d take a step or two forward and try again. However when he got down to my end of the car, I looked up, said no and he then said thanks and moved on.
With the exception of his loudness, it wasn’t really bad and he didn’t smell and he didn’t touch anyone. As the train approached my station, where most people exit the train, he got a little more ornery shouting out “Please! I’m just trying to get some– * it always got a little unclear what he was needing money for — can you help me?!” He was breaking that rule that most of us want other people to follow and hope that we follow ourselves: Don’t be a jerk. Again, no touching, no aggressive motions, he’d just crossed the line from being a figure of pathos to being someone to completely avoid at all costs.
The absolute kicker, the thing that really set him well below most of the beggars I see around DC was this. He’d targeted a very tall man who’d just taken off his kippah and put away what looked like a religious book, and started into his “Excuse me…” routine. What he completely failed to notice was that the man was sporting dual hearing aids and was probably 50/50 between not paying attention and being unable to hear him. So as we start exiting the car, he fires off, “I know you can hear me, you fucking moron!” The man failed to take any notice of this, but other passengers were clearly shocked.
I think I saw a passenger mention it to the conductor, but in that situation there really isn’t much else you can do. And if you’re in “morning commute mode” you don’t really feel that you have time to stop and talk to a metro employee about it. But that guy takes the cake for going way past the bounds of decency. I have to wonder if he’s still riding and trying to shakedown the morning commute for change.