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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Homeless Person Throws Garbage at You: WWSD?

Posted by on Tue, Mar 4, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Dear Slog,

I was just now riding my bike back from grabbing lunch, and a homeless person threw some garbage at me from the sidewalk and yelled, "FUCK YOU, BITCH!" I was, needless to say, startled, and looked back and said, "Calm down, dude!" (Why did I say "dude"? I never say "dude." Anyway.) Another person who was walking by appeared to not enrage the homeless person/cause them to throw food. There is a good chance this person is still at the location from which they threw the food. Usually I'd call my mom and ask her what to do, but I think my dad's taking a nap right now. Should I call the nonemergency police line? The people at DESC who go check on homeless folks? I am not more than a little bit unsettled; my concern is only that the homeless person might try to throw garbage at someone else (maybe they have had some trauma surrounding female bike-riders) and possibly hurt them, and that the homeless person could use some help.


Thanks and best,


Comments (59) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
My mixed feelings would render me incapable of doing anything, for fear that whatever I do could be the wrong thing. Same thing as when I saw some schlubby middle aged white guy getting a blow job in the entrance to the Pioneer Square tunnel station. I was very uncomfortable, but I didn't want to hurt the kid giving the blowjob, or force them into a more unsafe place where someone would be more likely to assault or murder them.....

I don't know how to love them...
Posted by Hanoumatoi on March 4, 2014 at 1:41 PM · Report this
fletc3her 2
You should definitely hire a rider to go a block ahead of you with a big Trigger Warning sign, just in case.
Posted by fletc3her on March 4, 2014 at 1:48 PM · Report this
Rotten666 3
Leave it alone. I once had a homeless person throw a half eaten donut at my head.

Life in the big city and all that.

@2 I see what you did there!
Posted by Rotten666 on March 4, 2014 at 1:50 PM · Report this
I think I might have seen this same fellow on a couple of occasions on the Jose Rizal bridge as I was going by on my bike. Once he just shouted obscenities and once he chucked something at me and missed. If it's the same person, I think his grudge is against anyone on a bike, since he probably read me as male. I just figured him for another fine representative of the Seattle Times Editorial Board.
Posted by Goast on March 4, 2014 at 1:51 PM · Report this
If this person is located Downtown in a Metropolitan Improvement District neighborhood then you can call the MID at 613-3905. They have safety ambassadors, outreach ambassadors and work with a community mental health director (along with UGM) who is out on the streets trying to connect people to services.
Posted by DowntownJames on March 4, 2014 at 1:52 PM · Report this
Clara T 6
Depends on what your concept of the role of the state in the maintenance of social order is. When individuals, for whatever reason, seem unreachable by indirect social controls that would otherwise restrict them from putting others at danger (or behaving as if that's a reasonable potential), then maybe the state or some other direct acting organization should be involved. Call a non-governmental social work agency in Pioneer Square and ask them what they'd do.
Posted by Clara T on March 4, 2014 at 1:53 PM · Report this
***trigger warning****
Posted by hmmmmm on March 4, 2014 at 1:57 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 8
Get some lunch meat and ride by him again and throw it in his face and yell "eat me, motherfucker"!
Posted by Pope Peabrain on March 4, 2014 at 2:00 PM · Report this
wisepunk 9
Mace the shit out of him. Maybe he will learn but I doubt it.
Posted by wisepunk on March 4, 2014 at 2:01 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 10
Is it possible you were riding like a bitch?

I kid, I kid, that's awful, and I'm awful for joking about it.

But also, what were you wearing?
Posted by MacCrocodile on March 4, 2014 at 2:02 PM · Report this
hillpagan 11
Maybe get him a bike? Seems like someone stole his bike.
Posted by hillpagan on March 4, 2014 at 2:04 PM · Report this
seatackled 12

I don't see how riding like a bitch would justify a fuck you.
Posted by seatackled on March 4, 2014 at 2:05 PM · Report this
In NYC, in the past I'd probably have reported them to 911 as a homeless mental patient in need of assistance. But, after a couple of recent incidents where police ended up killing the person of concern (not anyone I reported, btw), I'm somewhat reluctant to do that anymore.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on March 4, 2014 at 2:06 PM · Report this
delirian 14
@13: Seattle Police has supposedly been trained on this under the Memphis Model. If you talk to the police, ask specifically for a crisis intervention team. Maybe even ask to see if they will connect you with the CIT.
Posted by delirian on March 4, 2014 at 2:11 PM · Report this
"Why did I say "dude"? I never say "dude.""

I suspect you could have called him/her "irascible person" but "dude" is more effective when posturing.

Posted by anon1256 on March 4, 2014 at 2:30 PM · Report this
trstr 16
@14: SPD has shot at least three people over the past year and a half who had dementia or other perceived mental health issue. Don't call the fucking cops. Is having some food thrown at you worth someone losing their life?
Posted by trstr on March 4, 2014 at 2:32 PM · Report this
@10, you crack me up. Laughed out loud.
@12, you need to develop a sense of humor.
Posted by IslandGuy on March 4, 2014 at 2:36 PM · Report this
@10: I think maybe the homeless guy was thinking about this. They just didn't realize it was figurative not literal.

Posted by Hanoumatoi on March 4, 2014 at 2:40 PM · Report this
ObeyTheFist 19
My feeling is that it’s aggression toward women in general, bolstered by a belief that even the toughest woman on the planet wouldn’t turn simple harrassment into an ass kicking. I’m pretty shaken up every time I have an unexpected run-in with a mentally ill person on the street. I’m a 6’ 190 lb guy who might look possibly threatening if there was ominous music playing and I had my hoodie pulled up. But any time I’m the target of random aggression I freak out. It almost makes me cry and I ruminate on it for months. Then I build an emotional shield from the experience.

I’m trying to develop a preemptive emotional shield of words. “Calm down, dude!” seems like a good start. “Whoa, take it easy. Everything’s going to be ok.” has worked. “Just try to watch for crosswalks in the future, dammit!” worked once after some jackass decided that me tapping on his SUV window when he cut me off in the middle of crossing the street was reason enough to jump out and shout, “that’s right! Keep on walking you little pussy!” Quietly apologizing and then loudly, annoyedly pointing out that I apologized has worked.

After the experimental word play, I then go back to the place where it happened to reassure my panicking subconcious that I’m not unsafe on the corner where my adreniline spiked. That seems to be a pretty important part of not letting the experience cripple me in some way.
Posted by ObeyTheFist on March 4, 2014 at 2:44 PM · Report this
Fnarf 20
Kill everyone in a three-block radius.
Posted by Fnarf on March 4, 2014 at 2:51 PM · Report this
WWSD? Buy an SUV and move to the suburbs.
Posted by efbrazil on March 4, 2014 at 2:56 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 22
So you found where Seattleblues has been.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on March 4, 2014 at 2:57 PM · Report this
SPG 23
911. I hate to say it, but it's the only responsible option. We've had more murders and assaults on random people by the mentally ill than the police have killed. This guy left alone could just as easily throw a brick next time.
Call the cops and let them sort it out.
Posted by SPG on March 4, 2014 at 2:59 PM · Report this
seatackled 24

You should get a stepladder.
Posted by seatackled on March 4, 2014 at 3:02 PM · Report this
So you were physically and verbally assaulted and you are wondering about what to do because this person appears to be homeless? Call the cops and let them sort out the shitbag.
Posted by john cocktosin 324 on March 4, 2014 at 3:28 PM · Report this
sirkowski 26
That's an assault committed by a clearly unhinged person. What if he kills or rape a woman next because you were afraid to hurt his homeless feelings? Call 911.
Posted by sirkowski on March 4, 2014 at 3:30 PM · Report this
Call Phoenix Jones to pepper spray him.
Posted by hifiandrew on March 4, 2014 at 3:30 PM · Report this
Maybe he's not a fan of your reviews?
Posted by j.lee on March 4, 2014 at 3:32 PM · Report this
I, too, get freaked out when I see obviously disheveled, probably mentally-ill people in the streets around seattle. I've seen people attacked for giving the wrong look to someone sitting in a doorway. When I hear someone muttering incoherently, I'm afraid they'll snap and stab someone nearby. I've never felt such fear in other cities.

I don't know what the best resource is but PLEASE call someone. Violence escalates and we've had enough victims of random violence downtown already.
Posted by Stop the stabbing on March 4, 2014 at 3:35 PM · Report this
Clara T 30
20 wins the thread
Posted by Clara T on March 4, 2014 at 3:36 PM · Report this
@22 FTW
Posted by wxPDX on March 4, 2014 at 3:44 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 32
I think it's more of a tie for @20 @22
Posted by Will in Seattle on March 4, 2014 at 3:48 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 33

Waste of a perfectly good half donut. No offense.
Posted by keshmeshi on March 4, 2014 at 3:50 PM · Report this
On the several occasions that a homeless person has screamed at me, I've said, "Sorry, I'm someone else". That works more than half the time.
Posted by G g on March 4, 2014 at 3:51 PM · Report this
seandr 35
I believe the proper response to this sort of thing is to organize a posse.
Posted by seandr on March 4, 2014 at 3:52 PM · Report this
IndicaDogwalk 36
Yet another opinion, but you asked so here it is: The homeless person who threw garbage at you might have a mental illness that makes them...nuts. Coo-coo. Crazy in the coconut. No, those are not the correct, polite terms to use but it's gets the point across. Whatever you do, don't call the SPD unless you want the offending garbage-throwing homeless person shot dead. If that's your objective, however, then I'd call the SPD right away. They are very good at shooting first and asking questions later. It's their specialty.

Recently I had a homeless man come up to me in the International District as a friend and I were leaving a restaurant. The homeless man was angry, dressed in a combination of rags and layers of clothing. He wasn't mentally stable and had clearly been suffering on the streets for a long time. He spouted off words that made no sense. He had no idea what he was saying, or rather, I had no idea what he was saying. Maybe neither knew what he was saying but...he was saying it. Loudly. Pure gibberish, he yelled at me. I walked on, not wanting to upset him more.

When people fall through the cracks and end up on the street, they find themselves a little cracked. It's not easy on the street, especially with an untreated mental illness. Next time a homeless person throws something at you, do what you did this time - keep on moving on. They have enough shit to deal with inside of their heads, let alone the challenges of living on the street.

And now, time for a song: "Your crazy in the coconut!":…
Posted by IndicaDogwalk on March 4, 2014 at 3:55 PM · Report this
Would you have handled the situation differently if it was a guy in khakis and a sweater on his way to work who assaulted you?
Posted by john cocktosin12 on March 4, 2014 at 4:04 PM · Report this
@34: That's actually useful, especially if the person is clearly mentally ill. Just confuse them a little bit and get out of range as quickly as possible.
Posted by MLM on March 4, 2014 at 4:22 PM · Report this
How new are you to city life if you get so wound up about an interaction with a crazy homeless person?
Posted by The CHZA on March 4, 2014 at 4:24 PM · Report this
RainMan 40
It seems many of us, myself included, would handle the incident the way you did. But this guy's next target might respond to being on the receiving end of thrown garbage by beating the living crap out of him or worse. For his own safety he needs help. A mental health counselor per @5 and @14 is probably the best choice.
Posted by RainMan on March 4, 2014 at 4:34 PM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 41
I wouldn’t worry about it Bethany. He’s probably just read your writing. It makes most of us want to throw garbage at you.

(Sorry. That was shameful. Just too damn easy to let pass.)
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on March 4, 2014 at 4:39 PM · Report this
TVDinner 42
"Motherfucker" is my go-to word of choice in these situations, so I think "dude" is definitely better on the de-escalation meter.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on March 4, 2014 at 4:43 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 43
Not every single event in life needs a response. Let it go. Unless the homeless person is "Bi-sexual" which then requires you tell him to come out as Bi.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on March 4, 2014 at 4:55 PM · Report this
ams_ 44
Don't know what you should do, but asking slog for advice is probably wrong. So far you have been told that if you don't call the cops you are responsible if he rapes or murders someone, and If you do call the cops you are responsible if they murder him.

As an aside, I had a friend who spent a lot of time in mental hospitals. Whenever a crazy person accosted her on the street she would say, "I don't feel like talking right now". Surprisingly effective.
Posted by ams_ on March 4, 2014 at 4:55 PM · Report this
SPG 45
@36, That's all nice that you didn't do anything, but that wasn't a violent assault. Throwing something at a person on a bicycle is.
My sister had a homeless mentally ill guy on her block in NYC who would wander up and down the block and angrily scream at white women. The neighbors and the cops just shrugged him off as a homeless crank. A couple months later one of her neighbors was attacked by this guy when he found a knife on the street. They survived, but barely.
Clearly the guy needed help. Social services didn't do anything because the police never got involved. The police didn't get involved because enough people just shrugged it off.
Seattle Police are getting better about this kind of stuff by using crisis intervention people. Besides all that, if it wasn't a homeless person but someone just throwing shit at cyclists trying to hurt them you'd want the cops all over them, right?
Posted by SPG on March 4, 2014 at 5:02 PM · Report this
stirwise 46
I'd probably yell "fuck you, asshole!" and ride away. But, I'm a btich.
Posted by stirwise on March 4, 2014 at 5:22 PM · Report this
IndicaDogwalk 47
@39 - You nailed it on the head when you wrote "How new are you to city life if you get so wound up about an interaction with a crazy homeless person?"

Bethany, this is not that unusual in the city. I know that you have lived here most of your life, so the mere fact that a transient threw garbage at you is something you should have experienced long ago - like a Bat Mitzvah or your first bra.

I suspect something else is bothering you, deep down, and the garbage throwing transient is just "surface anger". Maybe take this up with your therapist, not us annoying, opinionated Slog readers.

Good luck working through this.
Posted by IndicaDogwalk on March 4, 2014 at 5:27 PM · Report this
Do nothing. Someone else will take care of it for you if the guy continues to cause problems. The world moves more efficiently when good people ignore the world around them.
Posted by six shooter on March 4, 2014 at 5:54 PM · Report this
Hi Bethany,
This actually happened to my bf last week. He was waiting for his bus in the early morning and the homeless guy just through garbage at him shouting "DON'T STARE AT ME". My bf didn't do anything to him, definitely the homeless guy was lucky that day:)
I will not be surprised if it is the person you saw today.
I used to live in sf and there was that huge homeless guy who intimidated passersby. He usually hanged out near McDonald's on Market street with a constant flow of tourists. When I saw that he was there I crossed the street. But you know what, he disappeared in several months. These people don't stay for long. So don't be very upset!
Posted by taraval on March 4, 2014 at 6:37 PM · Report this
@ 20 takes this one. Could be yet another reality show or maybe one of the guys who came to town to work on the tunnel and is running a little short on funds.
Posted by Howie Feltersnatch on March 4, 2014 at 8:53 PM · Report this
Taraval--it's "threw" not through, and "hung out" not hanged out. I can't help myself. Thanks.
Posted by crone on March 4, 2014 at 8:56 PM · Report this
@19 ObeyTheFist: I get you. I'm slightly bigger than you and I'm always stunned when someone gets aggressive with me. I think I/we are used to generally passively intimidating the rest of the world just by being tall males, so when someone gets in our faces it is a surprising and scary moment.
Posted by crankybiker on March 4, 2014 at 9:10 PM · Report this
You know what I think you ladies need to do? Take the word "bitch" and claim it. I look to my mom for inspiration. When she tiled her own kitchen floor, she called herself the tile bitch. When she took an algebra class, at age ~40, she called herself the algebitch. The homos did it with "queer" and "fag," it can be done with "bitch" as well.

Posted by zigg on March 4, 2014 at 11:06 PM · Report this
@53: Yes, that's already underway. Look around you. However, that doesn't mean it's okay to call someone those names in anger.

And you're not helping yourself calling us 'ladies', and calling gay folks 'homos'.
Posted by clashfan on March 5, 2014 at 7:35 AM · Report this
Its too bad this isn't Florida, you could've pumped 10 rounds into him for standing your ground against his weaponized flying sandwich
Posted by Bob3483948 on March 5, 2014 at 8:21 AM · Report this
Buy a gun. Get two plane tickets, for you and him, to Florida. Ride by him again and when he throws garbage at you, shoot him. Tell the police you thought it was a grenade and you were standing your ground.
Posted by sanotehu on March 5, 2014 at 8:58 AM · Report this
Judging by the comments on any subject in this rag I could become the next Bill Gates by selling tin foil hats to the losers that read this shit, wanna be newspaper regularly.
Posted by I shall not return - ever. on March 5, 2014 at 10:50 PM · Report this
Perhaps if this man ever suffered a single consequence for accosting people, he would alter his behavior. He knows, however, this being Seattle, nobody is going to do shit lest they have to a) do something, or b) question whether it's PC. In other words, he knows he's loose in a city of pansies, or to use his word "bitches."

Actually helpful idea: knock this asshole's legs out from under him or kick him in the nuts. Sternly suggest that he shut the fuck up and leave people alone. This may benefit us non-garbage throwing fucks in the long run.
Posted by seatownr on March 6, 2014 at 11:12 AM · Report this
@49 grow the fuck up, nobody thinks it's cute how your boyfriend didn't beat somebody up.
Posted by The CHZA on March 10, 2014 at 11:52 PM · Report this

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