Let’s do a little hypothetical today:



August of pandemic time.

New York City.

Five people are waiting for a bus.

Bus arrives.

Person A decides not to pay the fare.

Person B says something to them about needing to pay the fare.

Person A uses an object to attack Person B with.

Person B is bleeding and injured at sight.

Person A runs away.

What do you think about the above scenario?

  1. Should people be required to pay for mass transit or should cities provide free mass transit?
  2. Should you say something if you see someone not following the rules?
  3. Is skipping out on a fare enough of a violation for someone else to get involved in?

Would you get involved if you saw someone doing something wrong? What are you personal parameters for situations where someone is breaking the rules?

Is it OK to break the law or not follow rules because we don’t want to, or because we think the law/rule is somehow flawed?

So we now all have our thoughts on this hypothetical scenario….

What if I told you that this situation wasn’t hypothetical? That this happened at the bus stop directly under by bedroom window? That my daughter and I heard the screaming and ran to the window and saw the bleeding victim and people around trying to help him and making sure an ambulance got to the scene? That the object was a skateboard? That the scene was witnessed by at least five people including someone who lives in my building? That the police came to our building to look at the security camera footage?

Have your thoughts changed at all?

What are your thoughts on any, or all, of this story?


71 thoughts on “What If

  1. Argh, another tough one today! I’m happy to pay for transportation as for any service but I would not take it upon myself to harangue fare-dodgers. While you can argue that it is not a victimless crime, I would not feel compelled to step in as an unpaid ticket inspector but would feel compelled to act if a fellow passenger was being harassed or robbed. Double standards? Possibly haha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never said anything to a fare evader, but it is annoying to pay for something that others don’t pay for. But to take it out further….what if we just stop saying anything when we see wrong being done?

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Exactly that was the thread I followed too and hence why I would step in if a fellow passenger was being robbed etc. I would like to think that most of us have a line in the sand that, once crossed, demands a stand be taken.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yes, there does seem a general a reluctance to stand up for our fellows but look at the terror attacks here and in the UK some years ago – bystanders got involved. So, maybe “cometh the hour, cometh the man”?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Nyc now has certain busses that you can get on in the back or the middle and they have those machines that you can tap to pay your fare…so the bus driver couldn’t see what was happening

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Right, and we have that with a trains system in Utah. It seems the company’s willing to turn a blind eye if they don’t want to pay to have a worker standing at the stations to ensure someone purchased his pass or not.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. But then what gets cut if transit needs city funds? We may not like it, but things need to be paid for. Or we could go back to my dystopian piece from over the summer…

        Liked by 2 people

  2. it would be nice is the fare were free for mass transit, but I don’t see it happening any time soon. I was really surprised. I can’t imagine not paying the fare and it’s really scary to me that it escalated so quickly. Be careful out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Some people are give me, give me and have grown to be bullies expecting payment. It should not be free because someone is paying for it. I would speak up and I might get something thrown also at me. We need to take back all our systems and begin anew.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. The one thing I did notice is that so many people are on the phone..these days you cannot be that distracted..you just have to be situationally aware at all times. Would I tell someone they have to pay the fare- nope- no more than I would tell someone to put on a mask..BUT..if someone was hurting someone..it’s full on all Wonder Woman at that point… (senior citizen style, but I can still bring it!)

        Liked by 3 people

  4. I’ve decided that most people are crazy and I’m not going to do anything to incite the crazy. If I have a way of reporting someone that keeps me safe and I don’t think others are in danger, then I will report. If not, then I may not say anything (really for minor things like speeding or something, not big like robbery). If I see someone hurt, I absolutely would report it. As for the transportation fee for the bus, I love the fact that my city has found a way to make our bus service free to anyone, but I know ours isn’t nearly as extensive as something you’d see in NYC. I’m not sure it is realistic to do so there or for ALL types of public transit, but from a “good for all” kind of a standpoint, it is one of those things that I think is worth it to seriously consider. That said, if you are required to pay, doesn’t matter what you think about whether it should be free or not, you should still frickin’ pay. Like I said. People are crazy.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. That’s a scary situation. I don’t think I’d get involved if someone didn’t pay their fare. I’m not a fan of skateboarders. I’ve seen too much crime in the skate park adjacent to our city pool where I spent 18 years as a swim mom. I’ve witnessed them using skate boards as weapons too. Just awful!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lots of people are on edge these days. And lots of people are behaving unpredictably. And lots of people feel empowered by the general thuggery that has now become a part of our culture (thanks Trump). And lots of people feel disempowered in the face of the general flaunting of norms that we see everywhere. I count myself in that number. I’ve been personally threatened on public transit here in the city and I’ve been grateful that both times a middle aged man (of color I should add) protected me. I know, so unfeminist of me! But I am of a certain age and only a tad over five feet tall and even though I work out religiously I am no match for someone ready to harm me physically. How does this make me feel? Terrible. I would risk myself in the instance of a threat to another, verbal or physical, but not myself and not the MTA. And that puzzles me as well. Maybe as a previous poster said it’s the mama bear instinct versus the survival instinct.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean. But at what point do we just put blinders on and look straight ahead no matter what is happening around us? Is that the moment society disintegrates? I wouldn’t say anything to a fare evader, but when do you step in? Would I want my daughter to step in? Conversely, do I want someone to aid me or my child is something is amiss? I just don’t know

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Right there with you. It really concerns me. But I don’t feel like the NYPD is any help either. Had a convo with my corner bodega guy about their reaction to the shoplifters he collars : “Don’t bother reporting, DeBlasio will just let them out anyway.” He’s totally frustrated. It’s part of the same mentality and it doesn’t bode well.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Over at Sabino Canyon dogs are not allowed and recently I have seen 5 different people with dogs over there. I spoke to one, nicely, letting them know dogs weren’t allowed and they said they didn’t know and I told them to read the signs at the entrance. They were okay about it. I saw one runner not so nicely letting another dog person know they needed to read the signs. One I saw in the parking lot after dark and I didn’t say anything (since they weren’t actually in the park) and once I had a runner cross my path at dusk. I could hear something chasing her and then realized it was her large, off-leash dog. She was gone before I could say something.
    If it is important to you you need to speak up about wrong doing/law breaking. I don’t like people taking advantage or hurting others and I have never been afraid to speak up. But I have that don’t mess with me military vibe so I seldom feel threatened by others. But that is just me.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. In Italy I watched two teen boys hide in the toilet the entire ride from Venice to Florence. I didn’t say anything, but heck, I can’t speak Italian! So I minded my own business. Really, I don’t think I would have spoken up in NYC, either. I don’t consider this a slippery slope to apathy. If a person was being hurt I believe I would try to help, if I possibly could. Or at least call for help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. At some point, people will get hurt by these actions. There’s a stat that a majority of subway crime is committed by fare evaders. Plus trashing stations and setting fires. So maybe the fare evading doesn’t matter, but what does it lead too. What if the skateboarder in my example gets on the bus without a mask. The driver asks him to put one on, then the guy whacks the driver. Which has happened (not a skateboard, but some other thing)

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Different situations have dictated my actions or inactions in matters like this. I’ve seen kids hop the turnstiles and said nothing. Of course, I was in a hurry to catch my train and I didn’t know where the office was and so I never really had time to think about whether I would have said something or not.

    Then there is the matter of being behind someone who is driving so erratically that they are either high or sleep deprived or in need of meds . . something. In two separate incidences, I called 911 and told them where I was and what was going on. I would not have been able to forgive myself if that individual hurt themselves or others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I get the victimless crime train of thought. I don’t turn those people in either. But I’m beginning to wonder how much I will be willing to turn a blind eye to because I’m afraid of consequences.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I have asked loudly why people are allowed in stores without masks (see earlier blog post on this) and been confronted by a violator explaining herself to me. I have a hard time keeping my trap shut when I see people doing stupid or illegal things. It’s probably not the wise thing to do, but I’m hardwired to speak out. I’ve got to be more careful.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Um. I’m not telling anyone they need to pay a fare. But I also think here is where culture is involved. I’d be willing to bet many Black people wouldn’t say something to someone who didn’t pay a bus fare, primarily because we don’t want to be involved in any police-citizen interactions.

    I’m not saying it’s right, just that it is. Also, beating someone with a skateboard should be attempted manslaughter.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Unfortunately I don’t know what happened with the skateboarder. I only know what happened because I heard the screaming immediately after and one of my neighbors was waiting at the bus stop and my daughter pulled up the citizen app. I do know the victim needed to be taken away in an ambulance

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hmmm. An interesting post, as always, LA. Mass transit should be free. Where I live now is the first placed I’ve lived where it is free. Helpful. Another, hmmmm. It depends on the context. If someone jumped on a bus and didn’t pay the fare, I doubt I’d say anything. HOWEVER, if someone was beating someone with a skateboard, I like to believe that I would definitely say something at the very least. Frightening, yet things like this happen every day. Did they catch the person with the skateboard?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As the MTA (metropolitan transit authority) is the most sued group in nyc, I don’t think they would be able to operate free just because of all the legal fees and settlements (fun fact. Everyone I know who has ever done civil jury duty, including myself, has sat on a jury about a case against the MTA) plus, the scope of the MTA. Assume that the entire country will be bailing out the MTA in the coming months. Seven different bus lines operate within a minute walk of my apartment, mainly 24/7. I don’t know what has since happened. I do know they got our security footage, but this was just one incident among many that we will never find out about

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Lots of thing should be free, but probably never will. (I still think it sucks that kids in Allentown don’t have school busses and neighboring cities do) If I see something wrong, I say something. Now if I felt I could take the skater, I’d confront him/her directly..I can be the sweetest guy but if my buttons are pushed I am a raging hothead. My wife can attest. Otherwise I would just tell the bus driver. Would I do nothing if I wasn’t directly involved (like record everything for YouTube) No, but I would definitely call 911 and attend to the victim of the attack.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I admire your interest in moral dilemma. Getting hurt for speaking out is a risk worth embarking in for one who values fairness as a top virtue. I will unapologetically interfere again and again and again


  15. What a terrible situation! I rarely have occasion to use public transportation–so the first answer that comes to mind is that I would not say anything–especially because you don’t know who you would be dealing with. OTOH, if you saw people not paying their fares daily I could see how that would be frustrating.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I wish I could say how I think I would react in that situation. I usually avoid hypotheticals because really not all the variables are predictable i.e. how much self-confidence I might have at the time. Can you tell I think in shades of gray?

    I was not surprised to find that this was not a hypothetical situation. I read a lot of nonfiction and often comment when I am done “You just can’t make this stuff up.”

    That being said, the title of this post and the subject matter of your previous post (censorship) called to mind this series I saw on Neflix called “What/If”. Wikipedia described it a”a neo-noir thriller that, according to Deadline Hollywood’s Nellie Andreeva, explores “the ripple effects of what happens when acceptable people start doing unacceptable things. Each season will tackle a different morality tale inspired by culturally consequential source material, and the power of a single fateful decision to change the trajectory of an entire life.” I was drawn to start watching it based on the main actor, Renee Zellweger, playing a very unsympathetic character. She hadn’t been seen onscreen for a while and I wanted to see what she was doing in the way of starting a “comeback.”

    I stayed with the series based on its character development of Zellweger’s character and that of the couple who were really the main protagonists. What it revealed was that all of them were pretty unsavory, at least in certain situations and at various points throughout their lives. The same can probably be said, though not to the same degree, of all of us, which is for me what grounded it and made it close to real world/nonfiction.

    That being said, as far as the censorship you touched on in your previous post, I can say for myself, a self-professed (though I know few who would contradict me) “goody two shoes”, I enjoy or at least can be absorbed by some of these really nasty characters and situations, real or imagined. That makes me a voyeur, I guess. I suspect there may be others like me who are not entirely bothered by “entertainment” of this sort. I think partaking in it can lead to self-reflection and, best case, to trying to better oneself or the world after evaluating how whoever it is ended up being such a nasty person or finding him/herself in such a nasty situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s funny, but my post today is about why I have trouble writing conflict in my fiction….it sort of ties into what you wrote….that show sounds very interesting!!

      Liked by 1 person

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