Scenes from the XH—part 1

After 20 years of riding public transportation, I witnessed my first bus fight last night on the XH coming from Philadelphia's Broad Street subway line. It erupted between two men standing by the back door and expanded to a two-on-one brawl that ranged from one side of the bus to the other and continued for a full minute.

I had a front-row seat immediately behind the back door. I couldn't hear the fight develop because there was plexiglass between me and the door, but according to my seatmate on the aisle, the smaller guy asked what the larger guy was looking at, then said he was going to mess the larger man up, then made a motion like he was going to pull something out of his own bag. The larger man hit him preemptively.

“It's a public bus,” the woman beside me said during the spirited spectator commentary following the fight. “People are going to look where they're going to look. He was just defending himself.”

”No, he brought it on himself,” said a middle-aged man sitting on a sideways seat directly across from the door. “None of that needed to happen.”

Beside him was a woman with a toddler in a stroller who slept through the whole thing. When 500 pounds of men began lunging from one side of the bus to the other, half a dozen onlookers rose up in protest—“There's a baby!”

But what really seemed to stop the fight was a pointed comment by the petite 20-something beside me. “You can't go two on one,” she interrupted. “That's not fair.”

“He's my cousin and he owes me money,” one of the fighters paused to say.

“It doesn't matter,” she said, “If you really want to be a man, fight him yourself. I don't know—that's my opinion.”