Please note. . .

Don't Be Silent DC has been inactive since March 2008 and has not been accepting entries since. If you are in the DC area and have a harassment story to share, please go to HollaBack DC. If you are outside the DC area and want to submit your story, go to Stop Street Harassment. Thank you.

As of 3/1/08, I will no longer be working on this blog. Please read this post for more details.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rowdy Teens Attack on Morning Commute

I was not expecting to come to blows with rowdy kids on my morning commute to work today.

I waited for the 80 bus towards Kennedy Center at around 9:20 this morning. The bus came at approximately 9:30. I normally sit near the front of the bus, but I couldn't find an available seat. I sit near the back near the rear exit, and three rowdy teens---a boy and two girls---were sitting in the back making all sorts of noise. It was their "typical friendly" conversation---calling people "n***a," showing schadenfreude at their "friends" getting hit with balls in gym class, and other profanitites and obscenities. It's only five minutes to the train station, I thought to myself. I'll live.

But I couldn't. The more these kids spoke vulgar and cruel words, the more riled up I got. When the boy started saying "Dick. D-I-C-K. Dickdickdickdickdickdick. . ." I had lost my cool.

"Be quiet and show some respect!" I yelled. Typical reaction from rowdy teens: They get quiet and shocked that someone gives them orders, then break out into laughter. No respect for authority, and like I said, these kids mistake me for a teenager. They think it's one of their peers telling them to be quiet.

They then start doing their other typical reaction: the mock and repeat. "She said---"
"I know what I said," I replied. "I don't need to hear it again. You heard me---show some respect."

The fact that these kids had no respect for what I said---they continued to mock and cajole---had me furious. I lost my temper and did the worst thing---cursed them out. From the street harassment workshop, I learned that it's normal human nature to not always keep a calm facade. And it was too hard of a situation to keep my cool.

The one girl, ugly as sin, was threatening to fight me. "Fuck you, bitch!" she yelled. "Bitch, I'll beat yo' ass! Fuck you!"

The other girl slackly held her back. At that moment, I regained my cool. I didn't get out of my seat and spoke with a cool tone. "I'm sitting in my seat, keeping my cool yet you're ranting and raving like an idiot," I said.

The other girl was starting to mock too. "I'll let her go!" she said. "I'll let her loose to fight you."

"Fuck you, bitch!" the girl kept yelling at me. "I'll kill you!"
Annoyed, I got into the "I take tae kwon do---" but I never finished my sentence. That caused them to break out into laughter. "So the fuck what?!" the ugly fighting girl said. "I take ty-kwa-see-koo! I don't give a fuck!"

I was irate. "I may not be from the hood," I said, "but I'll beat your asses." Because I am fed up. I am tired of these kids running rampant and terrorizing people. I am tired of these kids getting away these crimes against humanity. I am sick and damn tired. In sparring class, I come home bruised because I have to spar guys (yes, guys) who are twice my height and size. I may not be the best fighter, but I've learned to take a hit and keep going. If standing up for myself meant getting beaten to a pulp, so be it.

The bus got to Brookland Metro and I thought it was over. As I got off, the kids seemed to be staying on the bus. Was I wrong.

I headed towards the train and see the three kids behind me. They were still itching to fight. Normal people get their morning buzz from coffee, not from fighting people. I took strategic action. It was easier to run on a bus than it was to run down the stairs (broken escalator) and get to the train manager. I saw an H2 to Van Ness sitting at the stop. I ran on and told the driver to call the police. Why he didn't immediately call the police was beyond me.

He did, however, close the door to the bus and told the kids to go away. Those kids screamed and banged and said "WE NEED TO TAKE THIS BUS! THIS OUR BUS!" He succumbed to them.

"Are you going to be good?" he asked. "I won't let you on if you won't be good."

We all know those kids had no intention of behaving. He opens the door and lets them on. The boy and the other girl walked past me, but the ugly girl lunged at me as if she was going to punch me. I acted instinctively, and pushed her with all my might. I restrained her temporarily against one of the poles on the bus, and prayed for the strength to keep her there. She was about 5'9'' and bigger than me.

But get this. The bus driver says, "I was going to call the police for you, but you're the one starting to attack now!" What the fuck?! This girl was lunging towards me like she was going to punch me and I act in self-defense! Had the bus driver called the police like I told him to, we could have avoided that! But nope, he sat back as if he was watching an episode of Jerry Springer!

Then these lying-ass hoodrat kids started saying "We didn't do nothin'! We ain't do nothin'!" I don't hit, push or attack anyone unless I am attacked. Had that girl not lunged at me, I wouldn't have touched her.

The boy, who's about 6'2'', then tried to approach me ready to fight. I pushed him and he stumbled a tidge. He was really ready to beat my ass.

The bus driver told me to get off the bus and go to the Metro station manager
to report them. I get off the bus, but not without these kids yelling shit at me from the bus window.

I went to the Brookland Station manager to tell him to call the police.

"They're on the H2 now," I said.
"What number?" he asked.
"H2," I said.
"What's the bus number?" he asked.

Damn it! I hadn't noticed the bus number. "I don't know it," I said. "But it's the H2 that's sitting outside right now." He finally called transit police, but seconds later I'm at the train platform, and can see that that H2 is long gone. So these kids got away with their bullshit because no one wanted to take action. I was riled up when I got on the train, but during the commute I became calm. As soon as I got to work I filed an email complaint about the incident to WMATA, typed up this post, and will be submitting it to my community list serv (doing what I learned from the community safety workshop). I read something similar on my community list serv---one guy tried to deal with rowdy kids on Metro, tried to rally people to help him, but no one would. Shaking my head in disbelief.

Here are my descriptions of these kids:

  • The boy was about 6'2''. He wore a dark, olive green coat and had a cap on. He is Black, has dark skin, and had chin-length twists/dreads.

  • The girl who tried to fight me is about 5'9''. She is also Black. She had skinny braids in her hair, that shape-wise reminded me of the sandworms in Beetlejuice. She wore a ponytail on the right side of her head with a blue and orange plaid puffy bow. Her eyes were tired-looking, and she had huge heart-shaped lips with long teeth and a huge gap between them. She had this perpetually dumb look on her face that I will never forget.

  • I didn't take good notice of the third girl. All I can say is that she is also Black, about 5'7'', and also had braids in her hair similar to the other girl.

No one should have to suffer through noise, chaos, violence and dischord on a morning commute---or ever. Like I learned from the workshop, do whatever you can to get a description of perpetrators---like I did---and spread the word. It'll make it easier to prevent them from doing this again.

I'm fine, all. I'm a little shaken up, but I'm fine. Bad-ass kids won't stop me from living my life.


Mark said...

I've noticed the red line can be bad in the mornings. I love using subways, but thugs like you described in your post make me want to get a car and commute to work that way.

me! said...

Teenagers are really perceptive - they read people like books and know who they can and can't get a rise out of and it feels like you end up instigating these kids in the name of teaching them good manners, esp. from reading the recent posts you've written about teenagers misbehaving. It sounds like your mom is right on - you yourself don't need to be the one to save the world...

Kate said...

is the use of "hoodrats" really necessary in your retelling? I sympathize with what you went through - no one should have to experience that - but your word choice in some of your account could be less alienating.

Matt said...

You were upset with kids cursing and being rowdy, so you resort to cursing and provoking them further?! Yeah, that's mature. Way to take the high road.

In the future, choose your battles more wisely.

Anonymous said...

Leave this girl alone! It takes a lot for people to put themselves out there like this. I'm sure all of you would react "so" perfectly if it were one of you. All that time you spend judging people needs to be spent working on yourselves.

Jen said...

Why didn't anyone intervene to help her? That's what I want to know! Surely, there were plenty of eye witnesses. Every single person on that bus should have risen up and stood with her and said, "No! Stop it." Instead they were silent. That silence makes them as guilty as those rowdy kids.

DCMovieGirl said...


They're kids. Rowdy, ill-behaved kids, but kids, none-the-less.

You're an adult. You have no excuse.

I've been in similar situations and they're not idiots. They can tell when you have you think of them as "hoodrats".

I've been polite and simply said, "I have a headache and I've had a long day, etc. would you mind keeping it down?".

And guess what?

Being polite and respectful, never HASN'T worked in these situations. They say "sorry", and/or "okay" and go about their business more quietly.

They're usually shocked to find someone who finally doesn't treat them like "hoodrats".

Try that, next time.

Give respect to get it.