Somehow I started it

Friday night, my wife and I attended a baseball game with several of my new coworkers and their families. We rode Metrolink–St. Louis’ light-rail train–to the stadium to avoid traffic. The ride to the stadium was peaceful and relaxing. The ride from the stadium was peaceful and relaxing too, except for a brief interruption between the second and third stops.

It started with an obscene gesture and a lewd request, stated loudly. I assume he was hitting on a female rider sitting in front of him, though I don’t know who it would have been, since all of the female riders on the train appeared to be riding with their husbands or boyfriends. This action predictably failed to win him any affection, or even much attention, from any of the female riders, though several of the male riders took notice.

I took notice. He was over 6 feet tall, perhaps 190-200 pounds, and very intoxicated. His slurred speech and clumsy movement gave that much away.

The drunk then turned toward the other side of the train car. I don’t know who said something first, but a black man in his 20s gained the drunk man’s attention. The drunk certainly spoke the most loudly, even if he wasn’t the first to speak.

I turned my attention to the security guard at the front of the train, as did several others.

When the train reached a stop, the security guard slowly stood up and walked to the center of the car.

“Who’s the potty mouth?” he asked, looking straight at the drunk.

When the drunk realized the security guard was talking to him, he turned around. “I am, sir,” he said, without hesitating.

“You’re getting off this train,” the security guard said firmly. “You can get on the next one.”

The drunk argued. Motioning toward the side of the train I was sitting on, he said, “These people started it.”

My wife and I were among the very first to board the train, and I didn’t see anyone start anything. All I saw was a dozen or so people board the train and sit down. The next thing I knew, this drunk stepped onto the train, grabbed his crotch, and said several things I know the man sitting in front of him didn’t want his five-year-old son to hear.

The guard didn’t buy it either. “You are getting off this train.”

“I just got out of [expletive] prison!”

The guard didn’t seem impressed. “I don’t care where you came from! You and I are getting off this train right now!” And with a shove, the drunk man departed, followed by the guard.

The drunk then walked right up to the train window where the younger black man was sitting and started jawing with him. The black man smiled, motioned to the train’s interior, and seemed to be saying, “Hey, you’re out there, and I’m in here.” That just made the drunk madder, and he lunged at the train as the door closed and the train lurched forward. The guard made a halfhearted effort to restrain him. The black man enjoyed a good laugh at the drunk’s expense.

And in a flash, we were gone, headed west.

And then something occurred to me. The drunk may not have even had a ticket.

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