Saturday, June 28, 2008

Metro Journal: June 26 Guitarless Man

In the morning I once again got to commute vertically to the Metro Blue Line station. There was a train there, although there usually is as it's the terminus and they usually already have one in the wings to get into position after one has left. Someone usually goes through and picks up trash at that point. This time as I was going down the steps to the platform, it started beeping and the doors closed! I tried to hurry, but I wasn't really in the mood to trip, fall down the concrete steps, and break my neck, so just as I got to platform, the doors closed and it pulled away. Oh, well. I sat down as the next one pulled into position. Its sign read "Del Amo," which meant it was a short line, but as I recalled Del Amo was still past the Green Line station. I got on and checked the map and I was right, but there's always still that moment of paranoia. That train was kind enough to leave only a couple minutes later. The Green Line was pretty uneventful.

In the afternoon, I got out of the class after 5. I was bone-tired. I hadn't slept well the night before and the long commute along with 4 days of day-long class just got draining. At the Green Line junction, there was a severe bottleneck at the stairs. Most of these stations have stairs for going down and an escalator for going up. There is, of course, also an elevator, but who the hell trusts elevators in public places? The Blue Line runs at ground level, and the Green Line is at the freeway level, probably about 2 stories above. Turns out some dumbass was walking his bike up the stairs against the flow. Geez.

A station or two later, a small man with a gray beard got on and stood at the head of the car I was in. He announced that although some of us knew him as the Guitar Man, he didn't have his guitar because it had been stolen. He said he was hoping to get a new one soon, and said he wasn't a panhandler. He performed for his money. Because he didn't have his guitar, he was going to sing a capella. Then he broke into some Billy Joel. Well, he did sing in key, but he didn't have a, um, beautiful singing voice, but then again, neither does Billy Joel. Some guy near him stuck a bill in Guitar Man's baseball cap.

Did I mention that I was bone-tired? And had a headache?

After he finished that one, he made the statement again about performing for his living, then started on an Eagles ballad.

I really hate 70s soft-rock ballads. I mentioned the headache, right?

Guitar Man got off before the end of the line. I had of course missed the last Commuter Express, so I walked down to the stop for the 81 and then waited forever. Or maybe it was 10 minutes, but there were no benches there and I was, well, really tired.

By then it was about 6:30. I got on near the beginning of the line, so there were only a couple people on, but as we went through downtown, it got really crowded. Lots of people were standing in the aisle. Once we got into Highland Park, it cleared out a great deal, but then a troika of teenage girls, including a Paris Hilton-wannabe-lookalike, got on. I am generally not fond of teenage girls. I was one for entirely too long. They sat in the back, a few seats behind me. The thing about teenage girls is that they generally think the world revolves around them, so when you get several in one place, you either end up with a schizophrenic planet or worlds just start to collide. One of these in particular had the epitome of the loud, shrill, perfectly pitched teenage-girl voice. After about 15 minutes of this, I was pretty sure if I had tilted my head to either side, a token amount of blood would have trickled out of my ear.

It turns out it had taken me about as long to get home as it had the night before, but it seemed like an eternity.

Edited to add: Apparently people with bikes are only allowed to take them on the stairs or elevators, but not the escalators. Weird. Metro bike rules for rail. That obnoxious bottleneck situation still sucked ass, though.

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