“Are you riding the train…?” came the voice over my shoulder.
It is perhaps one of the more terrible pick-up lines I have heard in a good while. Especially because I was standing on the Blue Line platform at Grand — a minimally furnished and poorly shaded station in the middle of an ugly stretch of Washington Blvd. that you must cross a very busy street halfway to reach. It is not a site one purposely seeks out as a rest stop.
Worse still, the line came from an armed private security guard hired, it appeared, to ensure construction workers there to upgrade the platform were able to do so in peace and to help travelers safely navigate the section of the platform being worked on.
He had not been hired to hassle the passengers.
But that was exactly what he was doing.
I had just watched him demand a young African-American man show him what he had in his pockets. The young man didn’t appear to be bothering anyone (I arrived in the middle of the incident), nor did he appear to be dangerous. His only crime appeared to be that he may have been homeless, and judging by the cardboard sticking out of the pocket of his hoodie, possibly carrying some garbage on his person.
As the young man tried to ignore him, the Afro-Latino guard paced back and forth in front of the young man, belittling him in front of the other passengers. “I’ll double it…Triple it.” he said, offering to up the money he had originally bet that the guy had something in his pockets.
Frustrated by the young man’s unwillingness to respond to his jibes and having spotted me, the guard now decided he had other fish to fry. Read more…