Saturday, May 3, 2008

Metro Journal: May 1 Travelall! Travelall!

Today was a little out of the ordinary, since instead of work I was going to Anaheim for a software vendor's sales pitch, er, "forum." But I still took public transportation (what, and spend 2 hours on the 5 each way?) so here's the story.

I missed the bus that goes straight to the Glendale train station because I Suck. But I had allowed enough time so I took a different bus to the closest 780 stop, which also stops a few blocks from the station. There was a female security guard on that bus eating yogurt and talking a storm about the stupid things people do at the hospital where she works. Note to self: don't get sick.

Walking down to the train station from the bus stop, I only had to ask once to make sure I was going in the right direction! Actually, I had to ask twice, because the first person didn't know. Close to the station, I passed what turned out to be a collision repair shop. I noticed it because there was what looked suspiciously like, no, really was an International Harvester Travelall parked along the fence!

My father worked for International Harvester headquarters in Chicago when I was born. We had one of these when I was really young, and I can remember when we would take road trips, my parents would put some blankets in the back cargo area and it was big enough and I was small enough that I could just stretch out back there. I always look out for them now, but I hadn't seen one in about 5 years. I didn't have time to stop, but I did make the last Metrolink train I needed to make which would still let me catch the Metrolink to Anaheim at Union Station. I only had to ask once to make sure I was on the right side to catch the train to Union Station! (I was and was pretty sure I was, but I didn't really have time to be wrong.)

One of the little warehouse fronts along the tracks going toward Union Station was for "Hot Fat Fashion, Inc."

At Union Station, I only had to ask once to make sure the Metrolink to Oceanside was the one that stopped in Anaheim! I got on with about 10 minutes to spare. A person who got on after I did had black hair with a thin mohawk ridge about 12" high and dyed bright red. He was dressed, well, professionally by some standards, with a red dress shirt, black pants, and black-and-white striped vest. He went upstairs to the second level of the train.

I guess I should explain Metrolink trains. They use Amtrak tracks and routes to connect neighboring counties and the outlying suburbs in Los Angeles County and most converge on Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. They are for commuters and generally run only during rush hours. They are nice, clean trains, a little expensive especially compared to buses, but for people with ridiculous commutes they make perfect sense. Round trip from Glendale to Anaheim was $13.75. 10-trip passes are cheaper and monthly passes are even cheaper. But considering the gas even a fuel-efficient vehicle would waste parked on Interstate 5 at that hour, it's a very good deal.

Riding the train, I guess "Travelall" stuck in my head somehow mashed to the tune of They Might Be Giants' "Triangle Man." I haven't been getitng enough sleep and the deprivation is starting to fry my brain.

From my door to Anaheim station: 1 hour 45 minutes. From Anaheim station to the Disneyland Hotel, about 2 miles away, where they are holding the forum: 30 minutes.

There's an Orange County bus that stops at Disneyland from the Anaheim station, but it was stopped in the middle of the parking lot. Someone else waiting for the bus said the driver had hit a pedestrian walking out from between cars (the parking lot there is laid out stupidly, really) and although no one was hurt, it was going to take at least 15-20 minutes to get a replacement driver out. I had figured on probably taking a cab anyway, and one pulled up and as the person was getting in, I snuck my nose in and asked if they were going to Disneyland. I'm psychic, and the guy had some software geeky logo on his bag, so I was right.

It took maybe 5-10 minutes to get to the Disneyland entrance. The remaining 20 minutes was spent waiting to get anywhere within the complex. Meanwhile, our Bangladeshi driver is telling us how not only gas prices are hurting taxi drivers, but also the chain restaurants popping up everywhere around Disneyland, so tourists will just walk to dinner or take a much shorter cab ride. He then goes on to talk about political corruption in the Middle East, how democracy there is a joke because the population is for the most part undereducated and easily controlled by strong-arm tactics and other corruption. He makes some comment about politics here, mentioning how some politicians will use anti-homosexual rhetoric to get power (he didn't seem homophobic the way this was phrased), but when he moved on to the topic about how the prices at Disneyland are absurd and that the park takes advantage of people that way, he adds, "But you know it's owned by Jews." Okaaaaaay..... My co-passenger was doing much like I was, just occasionally nodding and occasionally trying to change the subject as quickly as possible.

The ride back: My co-worker who was also at the forum gave me a ride to the Anaheim station. The train rides back were not at all exciting, but I did stop to take pictures of the Travelall. Turns out they had two, both clearly non-operational as they had extremely expired license plates.

On the bus from the Glendale station home, the driver was hitting on a clearly regular passenger. "When are you going to take me vacation with you?" They somehow get on the topic of family, and he tells her how he would be afraid to go to his own mother's funeral, because he's sure that a hand would pop out of the coffin, pointing at him and shaking her finger. He describes the woman as "vicious."

Most MTA buses have flat panel TV screens and show "Transit TV," a combination of local news, occasional shorts, commercials, and occasional static-screen factoids and trivia. I'd say about 75% of the trivia questions are about Disney characters. This leaves me rather shocked when the following comes up:

Q: "51.84 Mbps is the transfer rate of which broadband communications technology?"

Uh, what?

A: "OC-1"

I'm still trying to write down that question when the next one comes up:

Q: "What kind of tails did a gang of aborigines freeze, use to beat police, then eat?"

Hello? I mean, I know I'm really tired, but, what?

A: "Kangaroo tails."

I'm starting to think someone has hacked Transit TV. But then it goes back to normal, with some pithy quote from some dead person, and then the next trivia question is totally de rigueur.

Q: "What was the name of the candlestick in Beauty and the Beast?"


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