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...Continued from previous post:
It was at the Old Town San Diego station train station that I unintentionally did the wrong thing. Unless what I did was the right thing. I'm still not sure.
Here's what happened: My sister, my mate Tom, and I spent a fine day strolling around Old Town San Diego (see previous post, https://www.ailantha.com/blog/old-town-san-diego), after which we made our way to the nearby commuter train station,
...and joined the crowd of passengers waiting for the outbound train to the San Diego suburbs and exurbs.
While Tom preferred to check out the far reaches of the platform from one end to the other, my sister and I took a seat on a bench.
On the bench next to ours sat a young Black woman who appeared to be in her twenties. She was sleeping and, as the temperature was probably in the upper fifties, I wondered how she wasn't cold dressed as she was in a camisole top, leggings, and slide sandals with socks.
On the bench next to her were a couple of full shopping bags. In her hand, which rested in her lap, she held her cell phone. On the ground close behind her feet was a sleek, expensive-looking iPad.
My sister said to me, "Do you think we should wake her up and tell her that her iPad is on the ground?"
"Nah," I said, "let's let her nap. It would be pretty hard for somebody to grab that iPad without waking her up. Besides, we can just keep an eye on it."
Now, in retrospect, what really was I thinking when I said that we'd keep an eye on the girl's iPad? That if someone tried to steal it we would spring into action? Well, no. What I was thinking was along the lines of what I'd said to my sister: that surely nobody would try to steal the iPad because it would be too hard to reach it, positioned as it was under the girl's legs, close behind her feet and between her legs and the bench. In fact, it occurred to me that, as the girl was sleeping, the iPad was probably safer sitting where it was on the ground than it would be in her shopping bags, which someone could grab and take off with while she slept. Or if the iPad were resting on her lap it might not even be too hard to swipe it and run before she opened her eyes. Under the circumstances, I figured that maybe she figured that under her legs and behind her feet might just be the safest spot for her iPad while she napped. Or so I figured. Still, it was kind of a weird scenario, this girl sleeping on a train station bench with her iPad on the ground.
But in truth, for me at least, the girl and the iPad were only of momentary consideration, as there was greater drama happening on this railway platform.
A young Black man, who likewise appeared to be in his twenties, was in the grip of bizarre behavior. He appeared well-dressed, in the style of youngsters his age, in a hoodie and jacket, knit cap, sweats and high-top sneakers, a backpack on his back.
He wore earbuds attached to a cell phone into which he ranted loudly, angrily, incessantly and unintelligibly, and it was impossible to make out who - if anybody - he might be ranting to. He waved his arms while he railed and he paced to and fro, often propelling himself beyond the yellow safety line and dancing along the edge of the platform.
He looked as if he could fall over onto the tracks.
Against one of the station structures he had parked a bike which he reached for now and then, and sometimes he would straddle the bike and walk its front wheel over the edge of the platform above the tracks. Then he would park the bike and continue storming about on foot.
I imagine my sister and I weren't the only ones worried that this kid was going to fall off the edge of the platform onto the tracks. How would we save him? Could we save him? Would he be electrocuted by the third rail? Would anyone who tried to save him be electrocuted?
Fortunately, or so I thought, he moved away from the platform edge and began perambulating the length of the platform. Next thing I knew he was low on the ground at the bench next to ours, slithering towards the feet of the sleeping girl, his hand deftly reaching for her iPad.
Now, if you ask me what in the world was going through my mind the moment I sprang into action, I now can recall only two thoughts that must have flashed through my mind for a fraction of a second: the first of these nanothoughts was that this girl was being robbed and somebody needed to do something; the second was that I'd said I would keep an eye on her. Or maybe I really wasn't thinking at all before I acted. I expect many people would concur that I really wasn't thinking at all. Or at least not sensibly.
Anyway, as I recall, I jumped up from my bench, ran towards what I thought was the crime scene and yelled, "Hey, hey, hey, stop, that's hers!" I touched the girl's arm lightly to wake her. "Wake up," I shouted. Then I was down on the ground yelling at the guy and reaching under the girl's legs for the iPad. But he got it.
(My sister later told me that what she saw was me leaping up and, faster than a speeding bullet, diving to the ground under the girl. "I don't know how you moved so fast or how you were so flexible," she said. "You looked like a super hero.").
A half-moment later the boy and I were standing across from each other on either side of the girl who was still sleeping, or otherwise out of it. My sister was now standing next to me. Being this close to the kid, a tattoo of a tear drop was visible beneath the corner of his eye.
Now it was he who shouted at me: "I was putting it in her bag, you a**hole!"
He called me a few obscenities while I stood, drop-jawed, trying to work up an apology. The thing is, though he was cursing at me, I thought he looked kind of, I don't know, hurt.
"Step back, a**hole, step back, motherf*****!" he shouted at me, still looking hurt. Or, I later wondered, might he have actually been...scared? In any case I turned and walked - make that slunk - back to my bench, my sister close behind me, protecting my back.
However, it turned out that I didn't need protection. The kid rambled by us as if he didn't see me, and continued railing into his phone, I suppose to whomever he was railing to before our run-in. Neither my sister nor I saw him drop the iPad into the unconscious girl's bag, but after he passed us by I tried to strain and see if I could see into her bags, and I thought I saw part of a shiny black screen. So I assume he did put the iPad into her bag, as he stated was his original intention.
As for me, I felt ashamed of myself, a white woman of privilege, for accusing a young African American man of a committing a crime when he was, in fact, trying to be a Good Samaritan, albeit a deranged or drugged out Good Samaritan with a tear drop tattooed on his cheek bone.
"Don't worry, I think he probably was going to steal her iPad," said my sister, trying to make me feel better, though she was feeling plenty rattled herself, for which I also felt badly. And though she gently impressed upon me the danger of accosting this disordered young man, and how lucky I was to have escaped unharmed, she did admit that she never before saw me as somebody who'd do what I did at that train station. In truth I never saw myself as somebody who'd do what I did at that train station. I guess we never really know what we'll do in any situation.
As for the young woman, who in her obviously drugged stated had no idea of the drama that had swirled around her and her iPad, at the sound of the horn as our train approached she started regaining consciousness. In trying to wake herself up she rocked back and forth with such great effort that I feared she would fall forward off the bench. At that point I hoped that if she did someone else would rush to her aid. However she and her bags managed to make it onto the train without incident.
As for the young guy, he, too, managed to make it on board the train with his bike. Unfortunately, he chose to enter the same car as we did. Fortunately, he didn't bother me, though he must have been able to see me as clearly as I could see him. However he did accost another passenger, a big, strong looking young man. He told the young man several times over before, thankfully, moving to another car, that he didn't like his attitude.
I wondered if maybe he thought he was talking to me.
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BTPN7NYY
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
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I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.