2001-12-22 / Columnists

From the G-Man

By Gary G. Toms
Throw Them Off The Bus

Hey people! I was riding that Godforsaken Green Bus Line the other day, and something happened that made me promise myself that I would write about it in my next column. Ah, the benefits of being The G-man.

The bus was headed westbound, and a number of kids were cramming onto it at Beach 86 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. The group, a mix of white, Black and Latino kids, rushed to grab seats at the back of the bus. I happen to think that there’s a strange sense of irony about Blacks, young and old, rushing to grab a seat at the back of a bus, but that’s just me. Anyway, they got on the bus and proceeded to raise hell by cursing, throwing things, and punching the daylights out of each other. An exchange between a Latino and Black kid made me think of the Sugar Ray Leonard – Roberto Duran classic. Yes, they were throwing jabs that hard. The two came dangerously close to falling over an old woman as the bus was in motion, and I gave them a look that said, "Okay, now it’s time to stop acting like jackasses." Within the next few seconds, they were told to sit down by one of their friends.

The bus traveled for another ten or so blocks, when another group of kids stormed the bus. As luck would have it, they knew the group that was already on board. The bus pulled off, and I began to realize that things were not going to get any better, as the two groups started to act up.

A kid sitting next to me, who could not have been more than 15, pulled out a bottle of soda and a tiny bottle of whisky from his coat pocket. He began to mix the two, while his "boys" looked on in support. They all were laughing it up, and I sat there saying to myself, "This kid will be dead or in jail by the time he’s 18." I saw this as an opportunity to start playing a mind game with these guys. I pulled out my wallet to place my Metrocard, and I exposed a Transit Police patch and shield that was given to me by a family member. It may have been wrong to do, but I felt it was definitely called for. The kids sitting across from me signaled to the little "boozer" that I was a cop, and he quickly threw his concoction out of the bus window. I then looked at each of them one by one and smiled. I told them, "You should not show me respect just because you think I’m ‘5-0’. You should show respect, to me or anyone else, because it’s the right thing to do." A few snickered at my point, but most of them understood where I was coming from. The unbelievably bad behavior was now replaced with a dialogue, between me and the kids, about the senseless use of the "N" word by today’s youth and the negative elements in hip-hop.

I got off the bus, but before doing so I told the kids to stay in school and stay positive. I even handed out a few business cards to those who wanted them. The bus pulled off. A few of the kids began to act up again, but from my vantage point I was able to see that the majority of them were behaving.

During this whole episode, I kept asking myself how many other people experience such behavior on a daily basis? How many people, the elderly in particular, are frightened out of their wits because two kids decide they want to "play-fight" while standing over them? How many people have to tolerate kids lighting up cigarettes, or "weed", at the back of the bus? How many elders have to endure the Civil Rights period all over again each time they hear the word nigger fly out of some snot-nosed kid’s mouth? I imagine the numbers are quite high.

The G-man has a message to every decision-making "powerhead" at the Green Bus Line Company. I want you folks to consider a new policy when it comes to people behaving in a disrespectful manner on your buses. You should give your drivers the authority to throw these people off the bus. If there is a legal issue with that, then you should set up a special link to the local precincts, when trouble erupts, so these clowns can be escorted off the bus by a police officer.

I have been riding your buses for years, and I have nothing but the highest praise for the drivers who take no crap from unruly and disruptive passengers. They keep the situation under control, while others, who just want to do their eight hours and go home, act like they could care less about the behavior of neighborhood punks. I can understand that to a certain degree, but if someone gets hurt, or worse, on the bus because of another person’s blatant recklessness or disrespect, you could face enormous legal repercussions. I don’t think you want that.

So, I’ll sum up what you need to do this way. Remember that movie with Billy Crystal and Danny DeVito? It was called "Throw Mamma From The Train." When a kid starts to "show his butt", just… "Throw Timmy Off The Bus."

See you next week!

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