Monday, May 21, 2007

"on the bus/dangerous life"

Not every trip by foot or bus is scary, but many are. You just never know. The media hasn't announced it yet, but in my experience here, carless, single, white females are an endangered species!

I needed to be in Hampden today. That means taking the 8 to the 22 bus line. The 8 was fine for the first mile. Then, there's a stop where they pick up the "recovering addicts"  Things starting getting real loud and dicey at this point. The next 2 miles seem to take forever.

I get off on 33rd st. proceeding west toward Hampden. I wait about 15 or 20 minutes for the #22. There is an African American man sitting next to me who is 59 (he told me!) with his wife. A 45 year old woman flags down a ride from a stranger. I worry for her. Just in case I note the make, model and color of the car that picked her up. The driver peeled wheels as he sped off with her which made me even more nervous.

 The wife of the man next to me softly says: "Talk about risky business." I said, "you're not kidding, I took down the car info. just in case." The 3 of us talked about how dicey things feel at this stop today and how we don't feel safe in Baltimore in general. There is a man digging thru a garbage can, and another man, talking gangsta talk to no one in particular.  The man next to me is from N.Y.C. I said: "I hear N.Y.C. is much safer then Baltimore." He said: "You're not kidding." We talked about the need for self defense classes. He said he and his wife are activists and trying to make b-more a better place to live. I said that I'm no longer an activist, because all of my energy is going into survival.

They were waiting on the #3. I was waiting on the #22. Feeling safe and comfortable with the couple I told them that the reason I was using a hand signal to flag down the bus to pick me up is because the drivers "don't always pick up white people." They both laughed in a compassionate, "Oy vey" kind of way. The woman held her hand out to me, I gave it a friendly squeeze and she said: "God Bless" as I boarded the bus.

On the way back from the Rotunda, I walked along the Avenue. Lot's of cool, independent shops. But my ankles and feet hurt very badly so I didn't have the wherewithal to walk the short distance to Hopkins University. So, I waited 1/2 hour for the #22 to take me the 4 blocks. There are no seats. People refuse to move back, even though there is plenty of room in the back. So people are squeezed together like sardines. I can't move an inch.

  A woman says to me "Excuse me"

 and I ask: "Where would you like me to go?!"

  There was not a hint of sarcasm in my question to her. The woman's friend starts yelling at me: "OH, THE BITCH GONNA GET SMAWT!" "MOVE YOUR FAT ASS OUT OF THE WAY BITCH" she instructed her friend to push me out of the way. The girl yelled at me for the next block. Thank God, my stop was so close or I don't know what would have happened. You see, my need to get out of Baltimore feels like life or death.

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