by Buford Buntin

A young man sits in a seat on the Muni subway platform surrounded by Municipal Railway fare-checkers, eight or ten of them, I’d say. One interrogates him. I’m not aware of what he’s done, except not have his fare, perhaps. His hair is a little out of place, I guess, he looks a little disheveled, and maybe a bit afraid, as I can imagine.

Not wanting to be harassed by the pseudo cops, I move on, but look back in extreme curiosity and concern for the man. Nothing changes as far as I can tell, except for one fare-checker looking a little menacingly my way. I get on my train.

Are the fare-checkers an unnecessary money drain on the city’s budget which former Mayor Willie Brown would find superfluous, given that at the end of his second term, he thought Muni should be free? Are they cause for more trouble than help, an arm of the fascist sit-lie mentality the city’s yuppified are heralding?

I’ve seen another man who spends, I think, much of his day, especially now, inside Muni out of the rain, laughing with the police downstairs in the dry Muni underground. Is he lucky, or has he just, considering his age and probable maturity, learned how not to be confrontational with the long arms of the fare-checkers and the police?

All of this, in my mind, is completely unnecessary. As long as people on and underneath the streets of San Francisco do not bother other users of the streets and the Muni and Bart systems, leave them alone. And find some other way to collect for the money-strapped city.

In the City’s eyes, the poor and the homeless are a drain. Boost their lives and they won’t be. And, obviously, fare-checkers aren’t helping the situation.


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