26th April 2001

During my commute this morning, a young man collapsed on Muni. He was standing, and then he wasn’t. As you may know, San Franciscans are nice people who mind their own business, but also try to help you not die when we see you collapse on the subway. In such a situation, we can be broken into five general catagories:

Oh-my-God-he’s-gonna-die-right-here-on-the-subway San Franciscans

Typical commentary: “IS HE BREATHING?” “Turn him on his side! Don’t let him swallow his tongue!” “IS HE BREATHING?”

Typical actions: Removing their coats to prepare for inevitable “Rescue-911” action, pushing up the aisle to administer CPR.

Nothing-a-candy-bar-can’t-fix San Franciscans

Typical commentary: “He’s fine.” “Give him some room.”

Typical actions: Passing lunch bags, peeled oranges, and Snickers bars up the aisle.

He’s-obviously-a-druggie San Franciscans

Typical commentary: “Does he have any bottles on him?” “Is there a needle anywhere?”

Typical actions: Once they’ve ascertained that the young man is indeed breathing, these commuters glance nervously around the car, praying that a Muni official will materialize before he begins attacking fellow passengers in drug-crazed frenzy.

Leave-him-alone-you’re-embarrassing-him San Franciscans

Typical commentary: Instructional silence.

Typical actions: Feigning disinterest by reading their respective copies of the New Yorker and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Wondering why no one is considering the feelings of this poor young man who has passed out on the subway but is now quite obviously fine, and why is everyone still making such a big deal of it?

The this-shit-always-happens-on-my-train San Franciscan

Typical commentary: Impatient sighs. Exasperated clicking.

Typical actions: Shifting from foot to foot disgustedly. Checking his watch. Being amazed at the guy’s nerve.

I couldn’t figure that last guy out until he said, “Come ON! He’s fine! Can we get going already?” with a thick Jersey accent.

11:32 a.m.