It's true. I hate to say it. I almost don't even want to say it. But I have to. I miss my car. I miss seeing my reflection in it's shiny black surface. I miss walking outside of my house and knowing that it's right there, just waiting for me. In Los Angeles, it seems, your car becomes something more than a means of transportation, it becomes your best friend - dependable, comforting, willing take you far away from whatever it is you are trying to get away from. I grew up in cars, changing radio stations, helping my mom talk her way out of speeding tickets. I never rode a bus really; except for the bright yellow school bus with hot leather seats where the cool eighth grade kids got to sit in back. I sat on my Dad's lap when I was eleven, steering his car around in the high school parking lot. Growing up in the suburbs, a car meant freedom, a way to get to the city without the embarrassment of having your parents drop you off, sometimes even walking you to the door of the party you were attending. Somehow I never let go of this association. Recently having moved to San Francisco, to what at times seems like an entirely different universe, I learned about the convenience, disturbance, and inevitable heartbreak of the public transportation system. Running after the 24 bus a few days ago, I had time to really think about this. Here are a few do's and don'ts of riding public transportation that may be helpful to you.
DON'T talk to the drunks with pocket knives however nice or attractive they may be. There's a difference between a ruggedly sexy man who's had a few too many, and seems to be covered in dirt because he just returned from a camping trip, and the alcoholic who many many years ago was handsome but now walks around with a pocket knife attached to his belt, a forty in his hand, asks you how your day is going and then tries to hold your hand. Know the difference. And if for some reason you confuse the two, immediately get off at the next stop.
DO always carry an iPod, book, or magazine. You never know when that J train is going to be forty five minutes late, and looking busy or entertained is a great way to keep the crazies from talking to you.
DON'T stare at the couple smoking crack on the bus. He will turn around and cast a Satanic curse upon you. And if for some reason you fail at this, immediately get off at the next stop.
DO always give your seat up to the elderly. However, if someone is missing all their teeth do not automatically assume they are elderly.
DON'T accept gifts from strangers. I know the bracelet looks cute, but seriously, you have no idea where it's been. And the goo covering the box doesn't look too promising.
DO know alternate routes. You're a city girl now, which means you need to be self-sufficient. Being stranded isn't fun, and knowing alternate ways of getting where you want to go, oh let's say if the J train is forty five minutes late, is quite important.
Keep reading for more on this SF adventure...