She Had A Baseball Bat

I caught the bus at the end of my block to go to work. The bus was pretty full so I took the nearest available seat I could find near the front.

Photo of Winnipeg Transit bus from Wikipedia

Across from me was a woman with a dirt-streaked face and tangled hair. She was speaking rather incoherently to no one in particular and drinking something and eating a piece of bread. As she reached down to pick up her bread from her lap a baseball bat which she had hidden up her sleeve fell out and clattered to the floor.

I was startled and a little frightened. I could tell from the looks on their faces that the people around me were scared too. The woman quickly retrieved the bat and pushed it back up her sleeve.

I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I call out to the driver or go up and talk to him? Maybe the woman needed the bat to protect herself if she lived on the streets. I didn’t want to get her into trouble. But what if the woman was struggling with issues that might make her lash out with the bat and use it on a fellow passenger. Might reporting the bat to the driver upset her? I just sat there afraid.

I was still considering what to do when the bus pulled up to the next stop and the woman got off. After she exited she took out her bat and whacked the glass of the bus shelter at the stop and swore loudly. Her actions showed me she was angry. What if she had expressed that anger on the bus?

I felt sorry for the woman. She was clearly struggling with all kinds of issues.

What could we do to help her, I wondered, and still maintain a safe atmosphere on the bus for the rest of the riders?

Bus shelter where people have been living. Photo by  (Sean Kavanagh/CBC )

After work, it was cold and rainy but I couldn’t wait in the bus shelter at the stop where I needed to catch a bus home. A man had set up a temporary living space in the shelter and it was full of his possessions and littered with garbage.

I felt sorry for the man. He clearly had nowhere else to go.

What could we do to help him I wondered and still maintain a safe, warm and dry place for riders to wait for their bus?

I know the answers to my questions require solutions that are long-term and expensive and HUGE. I know we need more facilities to help people with addictions and more housing for people who are homeless and more support for people struggling with mental health issues.

But in the meantime how do we keep the public transportation system safe and user-friendly for everyone who relies on it?

I don’t know the answer.

Other posts……….

What if God is Just a Stranger on a Bus?

Another Friend For the Moment

Bus Chat

Riding the Bus Alone at Age 5

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