We’ve got nothing against SEPTA. But everyone who takes this weird and wonderful city’s transportation system on a daily basis knows it’s rarely dull. In fact, it can be home to some truly awkward experiences.
So we asked Billy Penn users to send us stories from some of their most awkward encounters on SEPTA. What we got back ranged from licking windows, to eating cucumbers to a very uncomfortable foot fetish situation. Read on.
(Note: The entries were lightly edited for brevity and clarity.)
1. The Route 48 Bible incident
When it happened: A few days before Halloween 2014
Where it happened: Route 48
What happened: We were going in costume to Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary and I was dressed as a demonic priest. We had just sat down when a woman sitting across from us said “Nuh uh. That is wrong. That just isn’t right.” After I laughed in response, she proceeded to tap the Bible that she was carrying in her arms, got up and moved to a different part of the bus.
2. Winner, winner, chicken dinner
When it happened: Six years ago
Where it happened: The MFL
What happened: A couple got on the car I was on one afternoon, and they had a three year old with them who had a box of chicken fingers and french fries. She sat behind the parents and ate quietly, and I watched her enjoy herself dipping fries into ketchup. Then she stood up and leaned on the window and got closer and closer… and started licking the window. And not, like, in a small way. She licked it easily a foot and a half from side-to-side for a good five minutes while I slowly had a meltdown. Suddenly, the mom turned her head and said “Sandy! Sit down!.” I bet that kid has the immune system of a champ now.
3. Just eat it
When it happened: August 2014
Where it happened: Media/Elwyn Line
What happened: We witnessed a middle-aged man scratch off a lottery ticket and then proceed to immediately eat it. It must have been a loser.
4. A crappy situation
When it happened: About 3 years ago
Where it happened: Route 34 trolley
What happened: I was riding home from work in the evening. A couple seats in front of me was a woman with her young son, who was about 8 years old. About six stops before they got off, the woman started speaking very intently with her son in hushed tones. He got up and stood in the stairwell until they got off. Once I got off at the end of the line, I saw that the seat was covered in very wet… feces. I unfortunately was the one who had to tell the driver what happened.
5. Won’t somebody think of the children?
When it happened: June
Where it happened: Manayunk / Norristown line
What happened: During a bad lightning storm, the train lost power around the Temple station. It was kinda surreal, with lightning flashes in several places in the distance. It was rush hour so the train was packed tight. We got power back and continued, only to lose power again a few minutes later. As the train rolled to a stop, the atmosphere felt very end-of-days like. The car was dead silent, until one rider in the back said loudly, “Well, I guess we just have to sacrifice the children.” The car remained dead silent.
6. What’s that smell?
When it happened: September 2011
Where it happened: Route 33
What happened: A teenager, about 14 sat next to me. He was alone. He stared at me for his whole ride while I stared intently out the window pretending it wasn’t happening. Just before getting off (about 15 stops later), he SNIFFED me. Really long and deep. Then said, “You smell good,” and quickly scrambled off the bus before I could respond.
7. A moving Blockbuster
When it happened: “A week ago”
Where it happened: The 40 bus
What happened: A man sat down next to me and showed off the pirated dvds he could sell me, with a wide-ranging inventory of six dvds. He was particularly convinced I would be interested in either “The Martian” or “Big Black Booty” porn.
8. Of all the things to eat on the train
When it happened: Three years ago
Where it happened: Paoli/Thorndale Regional Rail line
What happened: A woman sat down next to me one morning and after getting settled, reached into her purse and pulled out an ear of raw corn, snapped it in half and started gnawing on it. When she finished, she wiped her mouth and hands in a napkin, wrapped the cob in the napkin, tucked it into her purse and nodded off.
9. Practice safe sex
When it happened: Summer 2015
Where it happened: Broad Street Line
What happened: While sitting on a crowded subway car, a man walked through selling magnum condoms. It was unclear if it was a full box or individuals…
10. The worst doggie bag
When it happened: 5 years ago
Where it happened: The El
What happened: I sat down on a train headed to Center City from 69th and zoned out looking out the window. A couple stops later someone got on and sat in the seat next to me and started eating his lunch out of a styrofoam take-out container. He got off somewhere in Center City, and then I got off at 5th. When I got home, I opened my bag and found that he had been eating wings, and discarding his bones into the bag I had on the floor.
11. Now I’m no lawyer, but
When it happened: Spring 2013
Where it happened: The El
What happened: I was traveling westbound from Frankford Transportation Center at about 4:00 pm (I was a teacher–on my way home from work) when a belligerently drunk man sat down next to me. He pulled a six pack of Bud Ice out of a paper bag and started effusively complimenting my beard. As we chatted for the next few minutes he would periodically chug a beer and throw the empty can across the car (luckily there were only a couple of other people). Eventually he told me where he was headed: to 15th St station–he had to go to court for a recent DUI arrest. Now I’m no lawyer, but aggressively pre-gaming a DUI hearing doesn’t seem like the best idea.
12. Anyone have a cucumber?
When it happened: Late ’90s
Where it happened: West Trenton train
What happened: Guy used to board at Market East to head home in the afternoon rush. Eccentric looking fellow… one day he sat next to me (then a young female/recent college grad). He pulls out a paper bag and proceeds to eat a whole cucumber, as you would a banana. Chomp, chomp, chomp.
13. Can I check out your feet?
When it happened: This past summer
Where it happened: Lansdale/Doylestown, Regional Rail
What happened: As soon as I sat down, the guy next to me blurts out “you gotta protect me from the conductor.” My first thought is, oh bloody hell, please God show me where the asshole magnet is so I can have it surgically removed. With all my previous experience with weirdos on the train, I knew what to say.
ME: Dude, what makes you think I can protect you? This middle aged overweight woman is no match for these guys
HIM: Haha! You see, I don’t have a ticket and I think the conductor will kick me off. I just need to go to Temple.
ME: Well, Temple is the next stop. If he kicks you off, then you’ll be right where you want to go. So don’t worry about it
HIM: Oh, that’s great. I have to meet up with my sweetie. See, I have all this shit I am bringing her (shows me bag filled with toilet paper and kleenex). I gotta take care of my woman.
ME: That’s nice of you
HIM: Yeah, she’s a real sweetheart. She likes the crack so she don’t take care of herself.
ME: Oh, that’s too bad.
HIM: You know, I ain’t gonna lie: she still has her junk but I don’t care. Dick or no dick I still love her
ME: **raises eyebrows** Wow…good for you.
HIM: She makes me so happy
ME: That’s nice
HIM: I just wish I could help her out more but you know, she’s kinda fucked up. I’m fucked up too, so we are a perfect match… I love freaky shit.
ME: Great. Hey, we’re pulling into Temple. Here you are, and no conductor hassling you!
HIM: Shit yeah. Yeah thanks for talking to me. On top of everything I need to tell you I have a foot fetish. Can I check out your feet?
HIM: I’ll catch ya next time.