True Tales of Muni: The Crackhead

I used to live just off the L Taraval line. One evening memorable evening I was taking an inbound 1-car L and sitting in the back half facing the rear.

An older man, maybe in his late 60’s, was sitting in the sideways seat at the rear of the train, slouching and grumbling to himself. Now, there was a time when I thought everyone who talked to themselves was just crazy, but then I got older and started talking to myself on occasion as well. These days I think it’s a matter of degree; it’s one thing to just shout a word of surprise here or there or grumble to yourself silently about how Muni is never on time, it’s another thing to have a conversation with a fictional person. Since this guy was in the former category, I didn’t pay much attention to him.

A group of teenage guys got on at 19th Ave. They were being loud and obnoxious, joking around like your average high school senior types. They made their way to some empty seats on the back.

The teenagers started talking to the older guy as the train waited to pull into West Portal. I don’t recall exactly what they said, but it wasn’t anything particularly nasty or insulting… or so I thought.

Suddenly the old guy got really pissed off — he shouted at the kids. And I mean really shouting, at the top of his lungs:


Needless to say this shut everyone up. Everyone. Even the loud teenagers were speechless.

But it didn’t end there. Something snapped. The older man got increasingly angrier and angrier, with incoherent rants to nobody and seemingly about nothing in particular. As we approached Forest Hill his voice went from mere shouting to an almost operatic volume.

Everyone else in the back of the train, teenagers included, got up and moved to the front. Some people boarding at Forest Hill sat down in the back, then realizing their proximity to a loud insane person, quickly got up and moved to the front.

But the angry old man? I’m not sure what happened to him; he was still yelling when I got out, four stations later.