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Tonight the bus has defeated me :(

October 29, 2009

In a word, tramatized.  My transit adventures have left me in tears and I feel like an epic failure.  So here’s what happened:

This evening there was a Greenpeace talk on climate at a joint in the nether-regions of Memorial, off of Flat Shoals.  This required me to take the bus from work to the train, and then get off at Five Points and take the 21 eastbound down Memorial.  I wasn’t a fan, because this doesn’t have me going through the best parts of town.  But whatever, I’m a bus girl now, three weeks in should have been enough to prepare me for this, right?  And even the shelter has me in not the best part of town.  But the not best part of Decatur is much much different than the not best part of Atlanta.

To catch the bus from Five Points, you have to go to the street level of Underground Atlanta.  To catch the 21, you have to walk to the furthest end of the street, away from the station and the police precinct.  So I walked down to the bus stop around 7pm and leaned up against the wall of whatever building along side two other men who were talking amongst themselves.  Over by the signpost, between it and the trash can lay a man.  But there are homeless folks all over and I’ve become a little hardened to this fact after my shelter stint.

So the homeless guy gets up and walks over to me.  As soon as he does, I tell him I don’t have any cash on me.  He has some tickets to something, free stuff they hand out to tourists, and says he wants to give them to me, but do I have any change because he’s homeless and hungry.

When I first moved to Atlanta, I used to be so heartbroken by the homeless on the streets.  I even called my mom one time, the December I had first moved here, crying because a man had asked me for money and he was so nice and seemed so hurt but some cops had told me the week before to never give them money because they may be trying to steal my wallet.  I cried over that man.  Now I’ve learned that there are resources out there and some people are homeless because of really bad decisions and that’s changed my perspective.  Sometimes I still see people that I think really need it and try to help them.

But they are never the people on or around MARTA.

So this homeless guy, after I tell him the second time that I’m sorry, but I have no money, puts his hands on my shoulders and pinned me against the wall and started yelling in my face, cursing me out.  And the worst part is that those men standing beside me did nothing.  So he walks off and I’m in shock.  A couple of seconds later The Screamer comes up to us and I just start laughing.

One has told me about the Screamer, and thank heavens he prepared me.  Apparently the man has no tongue and is a little crazy; he hangs out at the station and screams at people, generally pointing to some note.  He had a small scrap of paper tonight, but I have no clue what it said.  One has assured me that he’s harmless, so rather than be shocked or afraid, I’m just happy to see him.  At least he won’t try to assault me.

So here’s this guy screaming at us, then he stands in the middle of the street screaming some more, and I have had it.  I can’t do this any longer, I can’t wait a second more for that damned bus and I can’t stand out there on that street and God forbid it, I am NOT taking that bus BACK to that station at 9!  So I walk across the street and back into the station to get back on the train.

And I started crying because I should be able to do this.  And honestly, that was the first time in the three years I’ve lived here that I’ve been scared in Atlanta.  And I feel so defeated and like such a fool that I couldn’t wait on a stupid bus in downtown.  Seriously, who walks away from a bus stop crying?


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