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Not On My Bus

Did he actually say what I just heard?!, I thought to myself
Three days ago I was on a packed #72 Portland city bus running north on 82nd Avenue trying to deal with my broken car. I was sitting in the very back facing a big 20something guy with greased-back black hair talking to anyone who would listen. "I really like that backpack. I really like that," as if the wearer might hand it over.

I didn't think too much about him and settled in to read my newspaper. "Hey can I read that?" loudmouth said to me as he reached out to snatch my sports page. "When I'm done. When I'm finished with it," I replied in a firm annoyed tone, tucking the entire paper under my arm as I scanned the front page. The dude was way too grabby.

A few seconds later everyone again heard, "I really like that backpack!" as the wearer walked off the bus. Then, like a bomb, loudmouth blurted "Goddam faggot!" to everyone when the wearer had gone.

Did he actually say what I just heard?!, I thought to myself, and yelled back, "Hey you can't say that! Shut the hell up!" before I could talk myself out of it.

Loudmouth looked me straight in the eye, and said "What?"

"You can't f-ing talk like that! Just shut up!" I replied and met his eyes and locked down my gaze, ready for anything. I was a bit scared, but kept going.

"I don't like that talk either," the guy next to me chimed in. Immediately energized, I shot back "Yeah, who do you think you are?" And that was about it. No one else said or did anything to help me, and I didn't look around for any backup. We were way too far from the driver for any help that way.

Loudmouth kept his blank stare on me, and I matched his intensity, trying to anticipate what craziness might happen next. He looked around the car and said to no one in particular, "I just don't like gays. Can I help it if I don't like gays." Like he was stating an opinion on broccoli.

"Just. shut. up. No one wants to hear you," I said one last time.

Loudmouth stared up at me again in a sort of crouched position with his head lower than mine. He didn't look fearful or wild eyed. Perhaps a momentarily cornered animal intent on keeping its distance and nothing more.

We both finally looked away. Then a few seconds later, incredibly, he said to me reaching out his hand, "Lemme look at the paper." It wasn't an attempt at intimidation. He appeared transfixed by the color photos on the sports page. Like the previous few minutes had never happened.

"Don't talk to me," I said with a snarl.

By then a few other new riders had tumbled into the surrounding chairs, and everything was pretty much over. Loudmouth was still seated, saying things to the people around him, when I got up to leave at my stop. I kept an eye on him walking out in case he decided to try something with my back turned.

Now that I was on the Max train -- the second leg of a 3-part mass transit trip to check on the busted timing belts that had crippled my '91 Subaru Loyale wagon in afternoon rush hour traffic on the I-5 interstate - I wasn't too rattled or nervous. Just trying to figure out that hater dude.

All that stuck with me was his wordless animal stare. []

Lawrence J. Maushard is a journalist and author in southeast Portland. More of his work at www.maushard.com

Thank you for speaking out against 'hate speech'. 26.Aug.2012 19:47

pansy + division

There is too much hatred & intolerance in the world and not enough respect for diversity. All acts of oppression, inequality and injustice are connected. Instead of not caring and just sitting idly by, silently and watching other's rights being violated and infringed upon... it's necessary for people to take a stand and speak out and defend against it for the sake of all people's basic Human Rights. Public exhibitions of hate/intimidation/violence towards ANY marginalized 'minority group' is not acceptable. Thanks for speaking out against it.


- solidarity

The moral of the story... 26.Aug.2012 19:50

Converse Murdoch

Horror stories about rude people on the bus are becoming all too common these days. Please don't let a senseless tragedy like this happen to you.
Changing timing belts is routine maintenance. Replace them before they break.

quick thought of mine 26.Aug.2012 20:00


this post is still up but - it is in the open compost folder - the newer 2nd post that this comment is attached to is, thus a 'duplicate' - the first original article \ post is still available yet not so much a 'news story' and more of an interesting story - its placement is in the 'open compost' thus the fact that this thread my disappear, so it is not really gone it is moved, due to it probably as i mentioned not being really a 'news item'. just my thoughts.

This article 26.Aug.2012 21:18


Has already been composted. Twice

no bigotry is acceptable--- 27.Aug.2012 14:16

other human

Tired of 'double standards' and hypocrisy.

Just an idea for a better future where everyone is included and no one is left behind 'stranded in the dust' where equal rights, justice and fairness are concerned. Just my two cents. I don't have enough for bus fare just right now.

When I do, I'd like to think buses are 'hate-free-zones' free from discrimination in the public. Free from fear. That's all.

the sharks are circling, but you dropped blood in the water 27.Aug.2012 15:55


I guess the point everyone is trying to make, Lawrence (and some of them aren't being very polite), is that your post is basically nothing more than a public display of patting yourself on the back.

Yes, it is great that someone told a person who is obviously displaying signs of mental illness to go shove off when they said something unpleasant. Nobody is going to argue with that.

I think the fact that you decided to come publicly brag about it is what gets people riled up. You did the same thing with the Sikh driver, as I recall - another post that basically amounted to "listen to this story about how i said something sensitive to someone"

Again, nothing that you said or did was bad or unpleasant or worthy of ridicule - but the fact that you felt the need to come publicize your own very simple act of sympathy and to show that you are sensitive to the plight of a minority of some kind is just kind of...well, I'm not sure what the word I'm looking for is. Desperate? Desperate for praise or recognition?

Just do good deeds and be satisfied that you did them. This is a news site. You being a nice person is not news.

I am a butch latina 27.Aug.2012 17:21

wake up and smell the prozac

This shit happens to me every other day, with racist zingers thrown in just for fun. I walk out my door wondering about what form racism and homophobia will affect my day.

Welcome to my world. And count your blessings.