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.

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6 Responses

  1. Fredo says:

    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.

    Cuz, you know, Metro employees will leap to their feet to do something about it anyway. 🙄

  2. pyack says:

    If he takes AMEX, I’d pay him to shut the fuck up.

  3. Lolypup says:

    The correct term is “bilateral hearing aids” not that it matters. The guy probably very well heard him and choose to ignore him. I have people do that all the time and if there was ever a time to play deaf its when your confronted with annoying people beggars or otherwise.

  4. It sounds like the same guy I saw this past weekend on the Green Line. He called some old lady an asshole as she got off the train, although it was obvious she was suffering from the same hearing affliction as the gentleman in your story.

  5. Brian says:

    Fair point Fredo, it just amazes me that metro trawling actually works. I’ve seen people stand at the Exitfare machine asking for change, but just riding the rails all day? I suppose it’s cheap, at least.

    Pyack: the last thing anyone was about to do was open an actual wallet around this dude.

    Liz: see, breaking the rules again. Pissing off your customer base is no way to make a profit! 🙂

    Lolypup: “dual” sounds sexier than “bilateral” 😛

  1. May 17, 2008

    […] Mario Kart firmly in hand and the train was relatively empty. I heard the familiar sounds of “Excuse me Ma’am?” coming from down the train and prepared myself to say “No.” when I saw a woman […]

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