Muni Street Theater: High Drama on the N and the T
This weekend, I took the much dreaded N-to-T switchover to catch a Caltrain to the Peninsula on Easter Sunday. While my experience on the T-Third itself seems to have gone more smoothly than it did for others, those of us waiting for the T had plenty of High Drama to watch as Muni Street Theater made a springtime comeback.
Coming Attractions included this array of confusing signs in the Embarcadero. Several tourists who wanted to take Caltrain were clearly confused and asked me which sign was right. I was not at the Embarcadero on Saturday, the first day of the Big Switch, so I can only imagine what it was like when all the Giants fans wanted to go to the game, and MUNI did its usual stellar job of communicating the change.
Then the main act came into full swing. An N car had pulled up and everyone got off the train, except for this one guy who was hunched over, apparently asleep. The MUNI operator politely, but firmly, tried to wake the guy up and send him on his way, but each time he literally did not move.
You could sense the tension as the operator started to wonder if the guy had died on the train, and as this short interlude extended into the main act, another one backed up behind it, then a T-Third that was due to take us all to the train station.
Finally the operator called over an inspector, Now, I would have loved to have taken some pictures of this, but I was not interested in becoming part of the drama and having it out with some MUNI official about the whole "taking pictures in the station" BS.
Anyway, the inspector first checked and no, the dude was not dead. So he tried several times to wake the guy up, and finally he did. What happened next was a nonstop barrage of loud racial epithets, angry nonsensical BS, and more. This guy was seriously intoxicated on God Knows What, and the inspectors tried to remove him and he seriously resisted, taking a swing at one of them and grabbing on to anything, asserting his right to "stay on the train as long as [he] f*cking wants."
More delays for everyone in the station, who were watching this drama involuntarily while they waited for the T to take them to Caltrain. I took a look at my watch and realized if they didn't move it along and take Angry Hobo out, I'd miss my Caltrain and screw up my Easter plans. Again, not wanting to turn this into a Rocky Horror audience participation event, I just waited and started thinking of other ways to get to Burlingame in a hurry on an Easter Sunday.
Finally, Angry Hobo was removed and demanded "police," which were in fact coming, since he'd kicked a door and was violent. The curtains came to a close for myself and my fellow passengers when the operators got back on their trains and tried to make up for the delay as best they could.
We had a short subject feature on our train when another hobo was talking in that sort-of-loud-sort-of-not crazy talk admonishing everyone on the T for being "f*ckers who think they can ride the train" as a sort of homage to his fellow performer from earlier . Everyone ignored him, and I got on Caltrain with just minutes to spare, and the production was complete.
The next time your hear Mayor Newsom or the Board of Supervisors start talking about "free MUNI," you might want to ask them if they have a plan to deal with similar dramas like this, and how it's going to be paid for.
The mind reels at this episode of Muni Street Theater becoming a daily soap opera, on multiple channels.