Bouncing is the second easiest job I ever had. The hardest decision I ever have to make is to sit or stand, everything else is pretty straight forward. Tonight was no exception.
The train home, however, was a mild pain in my ass.
The bar is 10 stops away from my home, which equals a ride of roughly 30 minutes, give or take. We closed up early tonight, so I was on the platform by , reading about Michael Corbitt and listening to a combination of my ipod's random selection and a Cubs fan arguing with a Sox fan over which was the better franchise.
A series of announcements told us that the train was delayed for two reasons. First, a fire had broken out on the tracks somewhere downtown. After we heard the trains were up and running again, we got a message that power was cut because two women had jumped (fallen?) onto the track at an earlier station. Thirty minutes later, a train came by and actually stopped in spite of its "Out of Service" banner. At least I had brought some entertainment to pass the time.
I turned the music down because I wanted to hear the baseball argument without getting involved. The rivalry between the Cubs and the Sox is one I find interesting as an outside observer. I'm happy when the Cubs win because it's good for business, but I have to agree with what I've heard—Cubs fans hate the Sox, but Sox fans just hate the Cubs fans. I'm not a fan of the Cubs fans myself, but only when they're drunk and out of control and it's my job to kick 'em out.
In this case, both men were rather drunk. Sox Fan was, of course, trashing the Cubs while praising the loyalty of their fans, all the while throwing insults preceded and followed by the phrase "No offense." It all seemed relatively rational until he called Cubs Fan a cocksucker.
CF was a big guy, about an inch taller than me and about as wide. SF was a little guy who knew he'd pushed too hard. He tried to apologize and offered his hand, but to no avail. CF eventually lifted SF up by his shirt and slammed him into the wall next to me. I felt it was time to intervene.
I inserted myself between them, trying to talk CF down, but nothing worked. SF kept apologizing, but that only made big fella angrier. We were attracting a crowd.
I said everything I could think of to make the guy back off: SF had apologized & was being stupid anyway; someone could call the police and he'd be arrested, and he'd have to wake up in a jail cell instead of a warm bed; none of it mattered to CF. He acted calmly enough, but kept pushing into me, trying to get past me, and wouldn't be sated until he had SF's blood drying on his knuckles.
I told SF to get out of there, and he did—left the platform entirely. Big guy kept pushing me, and now that there wasn't a target behind me, he'd chosen me instead. Rationalizing didn't work, so I tried a show of force and pushed back hard enough to let him know fighting me would be more trouble than it was worth. Caught off guard, off balance, and incredibly drunk, he fell backward into the wall that provides a (paltry) wind block in the middle of the platform.
Great. Now he's mad.
Finally another train showed up. I tried to tell him my argument with him was done and we could all just go home, but he wasn't having any. SF had wounded his pride with words, but I hurt him worse—knocking him into a wall hurt his pride and his body, and there was no way in Hell he was gonna let me go.
He never hit me, nor tried to. I suspect he's one of those "I don't start fights, I just finish 'em" kind of guys. That kind (I've noticed) does whatever possible to provoke the other guy into hitting him first, but if no one hits anyone, it turns into a standoff I witnessed in middle school a dozen times.
He did everything he could to block me from getting on to the train. When he stood in the doorway of one car, I moved into another, but he followed and stood over me as I sat down and ignored him. The conductor had seen us already, called CTA security up, and had us thrown off the train.
Seeing the other man was the aggressor, the security made CF leave the platform with a threat of calling the police. By the time the next train came along, I had waited more than an hour. Instead of being home by , it was around by the time I was nestled on my couch with the undying affection of my cat.
This whole experience leads me down two trains of thought. First, if the Cubs finally win, it'll be an amazing time to live in
. It'll shake this town to its core. There will be celebrations, there may be riots, and I'll be in the middle of it all, honored to bear witness to the end of 100 years of dissatisfied die-hard fans. But it'll only sharpen the Chicago North/South Chicago rivalry that I tried, in my own small way, to quell earlier tonight.
They say no good deed goes unpunished. I could have stood back and failed to intervene, but I'm glad I acted as I did. I was bullied as a kid and never stood up for myself, because I was always bulled by a crowd of no less than four. Even worse was having the power to stop bullies from picking on smaller kids and me doing nothing to stop it. That Sox fan, though rude, was smaller by far than the man he was insulting, and didn't deserve the beating he was sure to get. That Cubs fan turned into nothing more than a bully, driven to fury by words alone and unwilling to listen to reason or honor an apology.
Had things gotten uglier I could have been hurt, arrested and charged, spending a night in a cage instead of a bed. As it happened, both men left the same platform, and reason dictates they may have run into each other again and the mess started over without me, my intervention meaningless. But the thought of being there and witnessing a bully take advantage of someone is something I will never abide. Sometimes the world will be this way and I won't be able to stop it.
But the world will not be this way within the reach of my arm.