There are 3.976 million people in the city of Los Angeles (according to Google in 2016 and I’m not researching any further cause that seems about right), and those fuckers clog the freeways with their fuckery every day, leaving a trail of road rage and sig alerts in their dumb fucking wake.
Clever public transit essays won’t go changing your car centered life or suddenly make L.A. any less sprawling, but if you are an auto-centric douchebag who runs red lights because Insta-stories are more important than actual human lives, maybe put on your bus pants and take a smelly transit tour. Sure, you think you’re good at identifying smells now, but bay-beh, you have no idea what’s out there.
A beginner’s guide to L.A. public transit:
1) Get a TAP card. Don’t be that asshole digging for change. You are wasting our time and will burn in hell for it. TAP cards are $1, can be pre-loaded with any dollar amount, and can be purchased at like a billion stations, so just do it. They can even be re-loaded online for fuck sake.
2) Pick a coffee shop near your destination. You live there now. Find a comfy chair/booth in your favorite corner and establish dominance by scowling and sniffing loudly at passerby’s . Chose the barista you will shamelessly flirt with in order to obtain upgraded foodstuffs. Congratulations, you are now a non-hobo resident of your local caffeine dispensary! Pro-tip: get a creative hobby/profession ie: writing/knitting/quiet bongos in order to look less insane in your coffee shop residency.
3) Always feel the seat you are about to sit on for mystery wetness. I want to believe it’s water caused by those notorious mid-day Los Angeles rainstorms (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA), but sometimes it’s beer. Or fresh pressed juice. But mostly it’s piss.
4) Always carry baby wipes and hand sanitizer on your person at all times. Sure, because of the piss thing but also because I watched a guy pick his nose then place his hand BACK ON THE BAR. Also because of the immediate and uncontrollable white girl tourist “living my stripper dreams!” attraction to any un-occupied metro car pole. They get ALL up in that shit. (IT’S AN EPIDEMIC I SWEAR)
5) Always, ALWAYS give yourself a 45 min-1hr time cushion, allowing for wheelchair delays (6 in 30 minutes!), broken trains (the power went out!), police activity (my bus got pulled over!), and out-of-order escalators creating an impromptu cardio session by way of 6 flights of steep stairs at a run so you don’t miss the 720 rapid bus GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER WILSHIRE/VERMONT METRO STATION.
6)Make eye contact with fellow metro riders, but don’t make eye contact. The more savvy city folk know what I’m talking about.
7) If someone needs your seat, offer to give up your seat. Sure, the little old Korean lady is only going one stop, and the guy with one leg will refuse because he needs to stay close to the door, and the homeless guy thinks the offer basically equates to a proposal of marriage, do it anyway. Be a good human.
8) Say hello/good morning/good evening/Happy New Year, etc to your bus driver. They are awesome, brave, patient saints who do amazing things like frantically open all the windows because a homeless man on a scooter shit himself but he doesn’t want to kick him off the bus because poor dude is mortified and only has two stops to go.
9) Pay attention. Notice the streets you are passing. It is not the bus drivers fault you were candy crushing when you should have requested a stop. On a train? There are handy dandy maps over the windows in every car that show EVERY FREAKING STOP on that line.
10) On a stupid crowded bus or train? OH MY GOD MOVE TO THE BACK OR JUST AWAY FROM THE DOORS, ASSTOWN. ALSO PLEASE WEAR DEODORANT.
11) Learn big city escalator etiquette: Right is for standing, left is for passing. If you and your fiancé park it when getting on a busy escalator, I WILL let out several exasperated sighs as a subtle warning before politely saying excuse me and barging my way through. Some of us have connections to make, and I hope your marriage fails.
If you take the above list to heart, getting around is pretty easy and sometimes enjoyable. Like when you are flying down the middle of the 210 on the Goldline making faces at all those suckers going 2 miles an hour. Or when everyone in your redline car is going to a halloween party and slutty Sponge Bob is making out with Jack Sparrow while a pouty T-Rex watches. Or even when a future Rupaul’s Drag Race contestant in a creepy medical mask provides a one woman show on the Hollywood/Vine platform, because we all have to start somewhere.
Maybe something crazy happens so you become instant best friends with the people in your immediate vicinity, because you can’t NOT share smiles and quick glances while a white guy in a My Little Pony t-shirt and light up shoes freestyles poorly two rows up. Or the bonding that comes when your train comes to an abrupt stop in the middle of a tunnel as the operator desperately pleads with the passengers to “bear with him” as he attempts to limp to the next station.
The best way to really get to know a place is by taking public transit. You gotta step in mystery puddles and get bullied by a homeless person and try not to stare at that hot asian cop that’s always at the Universal Metro Station. Cities aren’t shiny and clean, not the good ones anyway. They are filthy, disgusting, and miserable piles of abandoned dreams and crushed souls. Traveling, day in, day out, with the people who keep the city going everyday for all those shitty tourists who view public transit as a novelty, is a humbling experience, and starts a solidarity fire right in the feels. Plus, eventually you’ll run into Ninja Turtles or Lex Luther, or just get pizza Wetzel’s Pretzels at Union Station which is pretty, pretty good.
So, go take a train.
It’s okay if you sit next to me, but no talking.
Have an awesome public transit centered music video, ya earned it.