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Monday, January 12, 2009

Muni to S.F.: If You Get Run Over By a Train, It's Your Own Damn Fault

Posted By on Mon, Jan 12, 2009 at 8:20 AM


Like most of you, I was taught to look both ways before crossing -- and, since my parents hail from Brooklyn, I was taught to continue looking both ways while crossing and to run like hell if a vehicle got close. This is not a controversial message. And while the only folks with wires coming out of their ears during my youth were being shot by John Hinckley, Jr., today everyone seems to be iPodded up and wandering, obliviously, into the streets in a 3/4 beat.

And yet the above ad featured prominently on Muni vehicles deftly manages to  convey a message that ought to be a matter of common sense in a cynical, appaling manner that can only bring unwanted attention to Muni's egregious record of maiming pedestrians.

First things first: This is San Francisco. We looooove dogs here. The idiot owner can sit and spin, but now Muni's got me worried about his Australian Shepherd. Secondly, your dog heard the train coming because he hears a hell of a lot better than you do!

And yet the worst thing about this ad is how sanctimonius it feels coming from an agency that paid out $66 million between 2002 and last year to its mutilated and slain ridership. It has all the moral authority of a plea for responsible phone usage from Aaron Peskin.

Last year, Muni killed three San Franciscans -- including a 40-year-old man who, according to Muni maven Greg Dewar, was chasing his dog (did the ad's makers know that?). And it warrants mentioning that the heavy majority of Muni maimings and fatalities are not young, able-bodied members of the iPod generation but old folks -- who can't, presumably, get out of the way very quickly. Dewar notes that the last Muni payout for a youth death was back in 2005.

Advertising isn't a personal expertise, but it stands to reason that the notion of people being crushed by buses and trains isn't funny. So why should ads attempting to prevent it try to be?

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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