Public Transportation

On Monday, my ride downtown on the trusty N Judah seemed more focused on the "public" than the "transportation." The train was surprisingly crowded considering it was going the opposite direction of the rush-hour commute. I stuffed myself on and found a place to stand without jamming my bag too, too much in anyone's face. At first we were doing okay, but once we reached the second stop, we just stayed there for many long minutes with no explanation. During this time, two young children, perhaps 7-year-olds, snaked their way from the back of the car to the driver two or three times trying to sort out the paying of their fare. Finally they settled in the forward corner behind the driver's compartment. All the standers among us relaxed into our stances now that we no longer had to accommodate the passage of the children. I was all the more surprised, therefore, when something struck me heavily at the back of the knees, causing me to stumble. What th...? Was it someone's luggage? Was it a big dog? I turned look and saw that a small child, presumably the sibling of the other two, was ricocheting his way down the aisle between the legs of commuters. He looked to be about three years old. He was wearing an adult sized tee-shirt that extended to his feet and he was filthy. There was no parent in sight.

Finally, after several passages of the child, a woman, presumably the mother, appeared. She yelled to one of the older children "Is Chance down there?" She was assured that he was and that seemed to bring her to the limits of her parenting responsibilities. Chance continued to travel from the other children toward his mother and back again, propelling himself by grabbing onto people's legs and pushing off as he moved forward. This may have been cute once, after all, he was a very young child, but it was not charming six times. It was clear that she had no intention of stopping him.

At one point, he grabbed onto me hard from behind, wadding up my coat in one hand and clinging to my leg with the other. He just hung there, content to stay in one place--my place--indefinitely. I turned to look for his mother but she had disappeared from view. I pulled away from him and turned to look him in the eye. "Where is your mother? You need to go to your mother." He glared at me. "No!" he yelled. "Yes." I countered and stepped back. He squniched up his eyes, made a fist and punched me in the leg, the highest point he could reach. "Bitch!" he yelled.

The adults in closest proximity to me and I all looked at each other with slack-jawed amazement. "Wow." I said. "I think being called a bitch by a three-year-old may be a new MUNI low." We craned our heads to look for the mother, but she was nowhere. I suspect that's where she usually is.

Compared to being punched and called a bitch by the three-year-old child of a total stranger while standing in an immobile vehicle, looking for parking downtown seems like it might a very pleasant pastime indeed. And this, boys and girls, is why global warming is unlikely to be abated in the near future.

And for Chance, sadly, global warming is likely to be the least of his problems. Good luck, small furious man. May someone take care of you soon.