How do you deal with the obnoxious passenger?

How do you handle a hostile, belligerent, in-your-face passenger on a train or bus? From my experience, other riders prefer to keep their heads down, blinders on, and give them wide berth.

Last week on the X80 Irving Park, a large woman boarded, stood in the doorway, and bellowed, “I’m here!” The driver proceeded to close the door on her butt.

After sniping at the driver, she made her way down the aisle, and tripped over a seat support. “OWWW!” she exclaimed. “That hurt mother f****er driver!”

 As she continued to bramble up the aisle, she mentioned to one guy: “Nice pants. They look like lawyer pants. Are you a lawyer? Well are you? You’re wearing lawyer pants.” She was very much in his face. He mumbled something and she continued to the back of the bus.

She verbally assaulted other terrified passengers on the way. When she got to the back, she literally screamed at the top of her lungs: “Why does everybody keep looking at me like I have committed some crime. I’m not a stranger. My name is SUSAN! See! Now I’m not a stranger!”

She sat down and said, “Just keep on staring straight ahead assholes.”

So, what would you do? Keep your head down like others? Do you have other examples of abuse by other passengers?


Leave a comment
  • If you actually meant that the driver closed the door on her butt, doesn't the driver have some responsibility for setting the mentally unstable woman off? So, what good would it do to complain?

  • The world is full of obnoxious sane people and we tend to deal with them like we deal with them but for people who have mental challenges and it sounds like this woman may have some issues, I find it better to ignore them as much as possible, don't stare at them but do be mindful of their presence.

  • I've witnessed other instances of mental instability on the train but this one sounds egregious. My policy--keep on staring straight ahead, asshole. Odds are against you if you start a dialog with someone like this passenger.

  • I watch them out of the corner of my eye. A direct look sets people off, but not watching a kook is a recipe for an ambush.

  • I observed an interesting situation at the bus stop last week. A casually dressed woman in her early 20s was waiting and along came a odd 30-something guy who may have been drunk or high (at 9 a.m.) or just a little nuts. He complimented the woman on her sweater then asked if she was pregnant. She said she was not pregnant and he followed up with "you have nice legs." She kept her sense of humor without signally that she was in any way interested in this guy. It was great street theater. Once on the bus he had a running commentary on everything that was going on... I wish he could have met up with SUSAN.

  • For me, it is usually a group of people being obnoxious; not just one person. A few months ago, a group of people on the Red Line were being loud and obnoxious. In addition, they would play annoying "music" on their cell phones without headphones for each other (and the rest of the car) to hear. As they exited at Wilson, I stood up and started clapping. Others people in the car joined in applause and we rode the rest of the way north in peaceful silence. What is needed is some way to make this behavior embarrassing, but I am afraid that the people that engage in it are not likely to respond. I guess that it is all part of the crude, crass, "in your face" culture that exists nowadays.

  • What's wrong with acting like a New Yorker and saying "Go fuck yourself"

  • If I'm without my child: I ignore the crazies talking to their diet cokes, talking to themselves or whomever will listen. If they get in my face, I'll give them a stare, smile, and tell them to please move on. If that doesn't work, I'll get up abruptly move to another part of the bus or different car. I try to give the crazies the benefit of the doubt and assume they are just nuts for an audience and commit them to memory so if I run into them again I'll know what to expect. Oddly I've never run into the same person on a bus or train (just outside and around the train stations, yes - there was once this guy 'johnny one-eye' outside Belmont 12 or 13 years ago, but that was another story).

    If I'm with my child: If the approach is threatening, I'll do everything possible to protect my child including self defense. Sorry, it has to be done.

    Oh and the loud music/trash talking folks, boy would I like to do a Woody Allen in Bananas when he pushes Sylvester Stallone and some other ruffians off the subway before the doors close on them sometimes. I think it was Bananas anyway. The scene didn't turn out so well though. If I'm going to be on the train for a while, I'll become the venerable old fart and tell them to behave.

  • Wait, you lost me with this story. Was the guy wearing lawyer pants a lawyer or not? If not, why was he wearing lawyer pants? OK, thanks!

  • In this situation, so long as she is not physically and intentionally touching someone it is best to just ignore her. I would assume that she has mental issues and to say something to her would not only be mean but that it might also set her off. And if she did not have mental issues then saying more than likely really would set her off.

    And, people like this are one (small) reason as to why I keep the volume on my MP3 player quite low, so that I can turn up the volume to drown out the people around me, and not just mentally unstable people!

  • Also, to fight the loud noise just bring along a laser pointer! If someone starts to play really loud music shine the laser pointer in their eyes! If they are going to help you go deaf the least you can do is to help them go blind!

    Ok, now for the disclaimer. This was a joke! Do not do this!

  • In reply to Mock26:

    Good tip: if lights are out in a train car in the subway, flashing a green laser pointer (mine is calibrated at 4.99mW, but I saw one from Canada at 42mW last weekend) towards the roof where a pole is coming down will illuminate that part of the train car.

    If people got really loud music, I don't know if this will stun them with surprise or encourage them to party.

Leave a comment