urban life

Stunning by Beth Winegarner


On Monday afternoon, I was sitting near the back of a bus headed through the south Mission. There were four or five teenage girls in the very back, being loud, obnoxious and classically teenagery. I was annoyed by the volume, but otherwise didn't have an issue with them.

But the older woman sitting across from me did. After a while, she stood up and started yelling at them: "You should show more self-respect!" "You need to show me some respect!"

The girls started yelling back: "We weren't bothering you!" "I have self-respect, what are you talking about?!" and so on. The noise level grew. And the older woman's granddaughter, who I'm guessing was about 10, started to cry, begging her grandmother to stop yelling -- and to get off the bus.

"You need to listen to your granddaughter!" one of the girls yelled.

I needed to get off at 30th and Mission. As I pushed the button to request a stop, I heard a zzzzzap! But I didn't see anything; I thought maybe I had imagined it. 

Somewhere in all the yelling, the older woman started saying she was going to shock the teen girls. And, as I got off the bus, she was in the open doorway with her granddaughter when I heard the zzazzap! again. I realized she had some sort of small stun gun. The granddaughter was on the sidewalk, sobbing, still begging her grandmother to get off the bus. 

I wanted to hug that little girl so hard, but I was too scared.