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The "let-me-use-your-phone" rant

I board the northbound Red Line at Grand after a long work day. As I enter the car I hear someone ranting at the other end.

A 40-ish black man is asking a white woman for a quarter to make a phone call, or to allow him to use her cell phone. She declines both requests.

Then he really gets going.

"All black people aren't criminals you know. All black people aren't n-----s. But there are some. That woman there just fucked up the rest of my day.

"I've been a fuck-up since I was a child of 12. I'm not saying I'm educated. But she's stereotyping me. She is so afraid of black people she wouldn't let me use her phone. I don't hate white people, because I wouldn't get into heaven with hatred...."

And a little later (the rant continued for my entire 35-minute commute): "I spent 18 years in jail, and I used to try to blame my bad bloodlines on white people, but not anymore. ... Really, I'm begging you just to use your phone." (This last request was made of no one in particular.)

And on and on.

Tomorrow -- another white woman responds to his request to use her phone.


nowhere in the world is perfect, but it's a breath of fresh air to get away from the primitive hatred/ignorance that's prevalent in the u.s.

but hey, at least she didn't get the "hey brother man! aw man you gonna be like that, black man?" rub i get from wanna be manipulators.

and forgot to say, no way in hell im gonna let some stranger use my private phone. i'd dial 911 for an emergency but u gotta be crazy to even *think* about asking to use my phone.

Wow, how terrible of her not to loan out her cell phone (which wouldn't have worked in the subway anyway) to some crazy whack-job who ended up ranting for 35 minutes. Cryin' shame.

I just wonder who this guy was going to call? Probably no one.

Also, when I see/hear stuff like this I either move or change cars altogether... I certainly wouldn't have listened to this guy rant for 35 minutes.

I always remember the time I was a naive 13 year old White kid riding the 55, listening to my walkman after school.

Some guy, maybe 18 or 19, tall and Black, asked if he could check out my walkman. Of course I was hesitant, since it wasn't like my walkman was anything special. I couldn't imagine why someone would be genuinely curious about it. But I didn't want to offend anyone, so I handed it over.

Next thing I knew, he hopped off the bus, clutching my walkman. Without thinking, I jumped off after him, begging him to give it back. After my fifth or sixth plea, his girlfriend, who must have been either frustrated with him for stealing someone's stuff while he was with her or with me for pestering after it so tenaciously, told him to return it.

Walkman in hand, I realized that my bus had left with my backpack still on it. I was now at 55th and Racine, with no money, in the days before cell phones reached ubiquity. I actually chased the bus on foot for close to eight blocks. The driver might have been oblivious to the whole thing, but it wouldn't surprise me if he knew I was giving chase and slowed his pace just enough to give me hope of catching up, thinking it was all hilarious.

Luckily, I at least had my student bus pass in my pocket, or else my walk home would have been miserable, being that it was dusk on a cold November evening.

To this day I will NEVER let a stranger use something of mine that I value. It's really a shame too, because one of the coolest interactions I've witnessed on the CTA was last spring when the Playstation Portable was fresh in stores.

An African American guy, maybe 20 or so, was playing one a row up from me while riding north on the red line. At Fullerton, a White guy, about the same age, sits near him and asks about the new gadget. The PSP owner enthusiastically launches into a whole breakdown of how much it cost, where he got it, what game he was playing, and so on. After the door closed at Belmont, the White guy actually moved to sit next to the game player and they amiably chatted about games until I got off at Lawrence.

It was a great reminder of what can happen when people trust one another and are willing to relate to one another. Of course, I somewhat cynically wondered what would have happened were the owner of the PSP White and the guy who boarded at Fullerton were Black. My idealistic side tries to convince me that silicon speaks louder than skin color, pixels are more unifying than racism is dividing. It's a tough sell though.


as long as you keep in the back of your mind that both good and bad people come in all shades, sizes and tongues, you'll be fine.

I think the relevant rule in this situation is "Soliciting on CTA trains is prohibited. Violators will be arrested." As the rant went on, I would have been tempted to call the operator.

I am surprised that nobody told the guy to shut up. I have done that a few times to ranters and it has worked. Granted, I am a pretty big guy with a pretty deep voice, but it really seemed to stun them to have me say, "hey, I can't hear my music. Be quiet."

I would have called the operator.
I'm sick to death of people becoming abusive when they don't get what they "think" is entitled to them. A couple of weeks ago a large man was standing on the corner across from my building demanding money for somthing or other. I told him no. He then launched into to the usual diatribe of "white vs black". I told him I don't give money to strangers regardless of skin color.
He continued to yell at me as I crossed the street. He followed me across and then started to harrass an elderly couple who were exiting my building.(And once again becoming verbally abusive.)
I noticed a CPD car parked outside the White Hen in my building and I went inside and told the officers about this guy. They thankfully confronted him and told him to either get on the bus or to keep moving or they were going to arrest him for loitering and being a public nuicance!
He moved on and all was quiet on my block!
Morale of the story: Take action and results will follow.

I don't even like to let my roommate use my phone. I hate those crazies on the train who think that they are entitled to things just because they're crazy and assertive in their craziness.

When I first moved here to Chicago, I used to feel bad about every time I couldn't give money to a homeless person or help someone out who asked me on the train. Is it bad that I've become jaded about not wanting to give people what I work really hard for? I can barely pay my rent sometimes, so I don't need to be hit up for money and made to feel guilty.

OK, end rant.

(I am white). The first time I asked a stranger in a public place if I could use her cellphone to make an urgent, non-emergency call, to figure out where my kids were camped out, she held onto the phone, asked me for the number, punched it in, and let me talk into the phone. That seems logical and that is what I have done since. (and if someone rings my doorbell and says they need to use my home phone for an emergency--which actually used to happen before everyone had cell phones), I keep the door locked and offer to make a call for them. The home-phone thing, I had figured out for myself.)

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