I moved to San Francisco from Detroit in July of 1978, and within a year I had convinced six of my friends from Detroit to move to San Francisco. We all lived in the same apartment complex at one point, and I lived in a converted storeroom that they had made into a studio apartment. It was one huge space with a large bathroom with a shower that could easily fit ten people in. Three of us had motorcycles that we could park in the courtyard of the complex, a big plus when you live in the heart of downtown and parking is scarce at best.
We also walked a lot being so close to Union Square, and could hop on a cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf or walk a few blocks to Market Street. San Francisco also had a great transit system at the time, and in 1978 they decided to hire transit police who would be trained as cops but would not carry guns. So I was excited when one of my friends got hired as a transit cop and went though and graduated the Police Academy. He loved his job and he got to ride for free off work. So one afternoon we’re shopping on Market Street and we were tired but didn’t have bus fare. My friend has a great idea; he will use his photo ID to get on the bus and I’ll flash his badge at the bus driver so he thinks I’m a cop also! Genius!
We’re almost to our stop and I’m just looking around the bus when I saw a guy with his jacket over his arm, and I’m thinking to myself: wow it’s a hot day to have a jacket. I’m standing in the back of the bus, but in front of the rear exit, I happened to glance again at the man with his jacket draped over his arm, when I saw him reach into a women’s purse and take her wallet. I reached into my pocket and without thinking about it I whip out my friends badge and hold it in front of his face.
Now everyone in the bus is looking at us and I turn to him and say “It’s not nice to pick peoples pockets.” He can’t do anything because I’m blocking the exit, my friend is in the front of the bus, and he can’t believe what just happened! He had that look of horror on his face, that I can’t believe what he just did look on his face I’m all happy that I caught a pickpocket. We have the bus driver pull the bus over. My friend grabs me and whispers in my ear “just shut the f@#k up and don’t say a word”. He asks everyone on the bus to make sure they have their wallets, and we take the pickpocket off the bus and tell the driver he can go on his way. We told the pickpocket it was his lucky day and let him go. My friend wouldn’t talk to me for a month.
© 2015 Excerpt from the upcoming book: Stories For Lambykins by James Szeles