OK another Red-line story. This time with a happy ending.
Got on train at Granville headed downtown. Middle car as it is not rush hour and that car will be closest to the exit at Grand. A few minutes in and loud music erupts. A standing tattooed Hispanicy dude (let the stereotyping begin) is talking to a couple of sitting whitish dudes. I can't tell if he is telling them that loud music is not allowed or not, but it sort-of looks like it. Except I can't believe he would be the type. He leaves them and swaggers to the other end of the car. It's his music. He may be drunk. He sits briefly and as we travel he is back up and wandering the car. He makes no attempt to steer clear of women in the car. He is not exactly aggressive but he clearly is into getting too close. Not touching mind you, just getting closer than he needs to get.
This continues until Belmont. Near Belmont he lights up a small cigar/cigarette thing. Several people, myself included move to the other end of the car to get away from the smoke. He swaggers back to our end. Now our end empties as people move to the other end. I start staring at him. He ignores me. No way do I want to start something with this guy who is way younger and tougher than me. But I feel it's important to begin to call out his behavior. If he asks why I may be staring at him I plan to back down. But back down as passively aggressively as I can get away with. He begans a slow saunter back to the other end of the car.
"You need to put that thing out or get off of the car." A young black woman takes the lead. Every insurrection needs a leader. But every leader needs people at their back. "I'm with her," I say. Now it's two against one and we have a chance. Still tough odds, and old (but fit) white guy and a young woman of color. We are at Fullerton. The doors are open but he is not making a move to exit.
Next to me I hear a beep and then a young white woman is at the call button to the train operator. "A guy is smoking on the car."
"No smoking is allowed on the train," comes the authoritative reply from loud speaker.
The guy is floored. He can't believe that he has been successfully called out. He leaves the car. He's become out-numbered three to one and things will clearly become worse if he dares move against a woman and/or an old guy.
Not every asshole on the el can be thwarted. But it is important to assess one's fellow passengers. Some of us are prepared to come together when the conditions allow it. It is asking too much to expect most of us to step up and be the hero leader. But we especially need to be ready to stand with the hero leader when they do step up.