Sunday, March 29, 2009

Metro Journal: March 27 Bowling for Day Passes

Friday was Brad's birthday and he was playing hookey, so we decided to go bowling. It was just afternoon, it was another freaky hot day, but I feel like a dork driving less than 1½ miles, so I decided to take the bus. I was figuring afterward maybe seeing a movie, so I planned to get a day pass.

Well, the first bus was about 10 minutes late, and it only runs every half hour. (I could have walked the ½ mile to my connecting stop in that time, but it was hot just standing in the sun without even moving.) I got on, fed my $5 bill into the machine, and asked for a day pass. Now, since the first time I can remember getting a day pass, about 4 years ago now (when they were still $3), they've been a piece of paper with the date printed on it. It had been about a month since I had gotten my last day pass, and that was what I was expecting. But the driver pulled a stack of the TAP transit cards out of his pocket and handed me one and told me to scan it. I'd seen them before; they act like debit cards. You pre-pay an amount to load it up and then every time you get on a bus or train, you scan it and it subtracts the fare. It's good in multiple participating area transit systems, too, not just the Los Angeles County MTA. I took the card, but I was confused, and the bus was running late already, so I didn't want to interrogate the driver.

It turns out that, yes, Metro started on March 15 the process of replacing the paper day passes with the TAP system. The "day pass" is still good for as many buses and trains you can get your butt on in a day, so using the Tap card doesn't "debit" anything, but just makes sure the card has a valid pass for that day loaded on it. And normally it costs $2 to buy a TAP card, which can then be used and reloaded until you, well, lose it, but until April 11 (or while supplies last) drivers are handing them out for free when you buy a day pass. Wow. I feel so... out of the loop.

The last paper pass I got (still stuffed in my bag over a month later) and my new TAP card (a $2 value, free while supplies last! Or through April 11.)

We waited forever in the hot sun for a connecting bus, after having watched two go by while we were less than a block from the stop. I spoke with the man behind me who was trying to explain the Tap cards. I asked if it would still act like a day pass instead of like I had loaded $5 on it and he said he wasn't sure. We actually managed to talk about a lot of stuff, like lack of public transportation budget, the economy, the mortgage mess, off-shoring of jobs, karma (I brought it up as in, "Well, I hope the greedy people responsible for these messes get theirs, and I hope they get it before they die, so I'll enjoy it more" but I think the man I was speaking to actually believed in reincarnation in Hindu or Buddhist sense. I explained I didn't have that much patience.) We actually talked about a lot of things, because we had to wait over 15 minutes in the hot sun for another bus.

I was so late, Brad had already started a practice game. I got a strike in my first 3 or so frames and, of course, there was nowhere to go but downhill. I hadn't bowled in probably 3 years or so and I never had what might be called good technique. Or any technique. After getting mocked by the computer scoring system for my >50% rate of gutterballs in the first full game, I studied the sign on the wall for the "classic 4-step bowling technique." I also watched someone in the next alley who seemed to hit pins more often than not, and by the end of the second game, I had more than doubled my first game's score. The third game, on almost every frame I seemed to get a 9, although it tapered off near the end. I'll say it was bowler's thumb, and I won't mention how I managed to bruise my pelvic bone (seriously, I'm not saying anything about it). No, I never did break 100, but maybe I'll try to go at least once a week while I'm still not working.

I had been thinking about going to see Watchmen afterward and had looked up the time. When Brad suggested seeing a movie, I mentioned it to him, so we went to the Americana. I had never actually set foot inside it before. There's a train that runs around the thing, more for gimmick value than anything else, and neither of us were sure where the theater was physically located in the place. We finally saw it on the other side of a large, grassy knoll. As there were other people standing in the large, grassy knoll and we could see no signs saying, "Stay off the grass," we started walking across the grass. When he got to the very middle of the knoll, we saw a sign saying, "Please stay off the grass."

I am not making this up.

After the movie, Brad left to go to dinner, and I went to a nearby, non-Americana store. After that, I was waiting at the light to cross Brand to go to a Japanese fast-ish food restaurant when a woman walked up to me, and in what sounded like a Scandinavian accent, told me that a man over "there" (kitty corner from where we were, which had a lot of people on it and none who seemed to be giving me the evil eye) had just told her that he was going to break the neck of the woman with glasses on this corner, and since I was the only woman with glasses on this corner, he meant me. This woman did not seem at all menacing, just, well, not all there, but she seemed alarmed, so I thanked her, and told her I would be sure to stay away from that man. She went on to tell me that serious, permanent spinal cord injuries could result! Damn, this was a long light cycle. I told her I would be sure to avoid him, but she wasn't really paying attention. The light changed, I smiled and thanked her again, then I crossed the street. Fortunately the Japanese place was on the same side of the street so I didn't have to walk near the, um, imaginary weird-o.

After I ate, I came out. The corner the woman had been pointing at was actually the corner where my bus home stopped, and lo and behold, there were actually two police cars stopped there. Well, maybe there had been a total whackjob there and someone had called him in. Or maybe it was Friday night on the busiest corner in the city's commercial district. The policemen just seemed to be chatting with an ordinary female citizen, and after several minutes, everyone left.

Because Brad drove me from the bowling alley to the theater, and because I walked the last ½ mile home because it was nice and cool, I only actually took three rides. Oh, well. A fifth would have been the magic number to make sure the day pass action was working like it should. I'll take their word for it... for now.

Now I'm trying to decide if I should make a TAP card cozy! Don't ask...

No comments: