So I”m riding the Blue Line out of Sac to Watt/I-80, and the driver comes on the PA and says there’s something wrong with the brakes: all of us have to get off the train, and there’ll be another train right behind him. Now of course, the train is not right behind him; in fact it’s 15 minutes behind, enough to make us all late for our bus connections.

As we’re pulling into the final stop, this guy behind me says, “Man, those stupid Republican millionaires; they don’t care about public transit, we’ll always be late like this.” And then anther guy next to him says, “So what you’re saying is, ‘Go Meg 2010’?” And the guys replies, “Ya, stupid rich Republicans.”

We all had to get off the train at this point, so I couldn’t respond, but if I could, I would have unloaded a few points.

1. Republicans aren’t even in power, you idiot. They have absolutely no ability to control anything remotely relating to Light Rail.

2. Meg Whitman does not and will not have any power over Light Rail’s performance, in any case.

3. Democrats are on average more the wealthy fat-cats than Republicans.

4. You’re just a complete quacky dimwit.

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Now, I can rant forever about newbies on the bus system who fumble through fare prices and getting off at the right stops, but this post is actually about a newbie beggar.

Like seriously, I’m not even poor (well, I’ve only got $8.00 in my checking account, which is below the poverty line, so whatevs) and I can give this guy a few tips.

I’m walking to the Cathedral Square Light Rail stop, and this guy comes up to me and says, “Hey, could I get a few bucks for a Light Rail ticket, I need to get home.” Ok, not too bad, although you should call me “Sir” if you really want to get me int the mood. So I’m like, “Sure, the ticket machine is right over here, I’ll buy you a ticket.”

So I start walking to the ticket machine and he follow reluctantly behind, mumbling that I “shouldn’t be like that, man, I just need a few bucks.” And I’m like, “No, it’s no trouble, the machine’s right here, c’mon.” At this point I’m trying to help this guy even though he’s fighting against it.

But, he decides to be an ungrateful cad and says, “No man, it’s for beer, just give a few bucks for a beer.” At that point, I was just like, “No, I can’t give you money for that.” And he left.

1. Beer is a reward for hard work, not something you beg money for.

2. He could’ve just taken the ticket and then pawned it for some cash, or kept it and ridden somewhere useful.

Skill and workmanship are just decreasing in quality across the board, I guess.

So I’m back on the buses.

I love this blog, even though practically no one else reads it, it’s still fun to journalize my meanderings in the world of public transit. One day when I’m old and gray, I’m going to give a hearty chuckle and peruse these posts with some unfortunate grandson who is being forced to relive his old pappy’s past through that archaic thing called “the Internet.”

Anywho, back to the real world. I’m back on a 4 hr/day commuting routine again, just like high school (though shorter than when I worked at the Capitol). The final link in my commute is the Sacramento Light Rail system, run by Regional Transit, a practically bankrupt old bureaucracy that is losing ridiculous amounts of money.

So, me being the thoughtful, observant person I am, upon discovering this, decided to help: By not paying as much as I should. Bam.

On a Clallam Transit route bound for Forks, WA (yes, that Forks), I got the chance to listen to the old bus driver tell stories of the countryside.

Driving on the shoreline of Crescent Lake:

“You see that little inlet up there? Ya, a friend of mine was SCUBA diving down there a few years ago and he saw a Model T lying on the bottom of the lake. Just lying there, perfectly preserved. Unfortunately, it was still a couple hundred feet down and he didn’t have the equipment to bring it up. So if you ever need a perfectly preserved Model T, you know where to look.”

“You see that area where the hillside is eroded? Ya, there used to be a railway up there to haul lumber to the coast. One time they hooked three trains together and they were trying to get up that hill. As the first train was just beginning to go down, the coupling at the top of the hill broke and the train went careening down the hill, jumped the tracks and crashed into a tree. The other two trains that it was connected too were jolted and skipped the tracks, rolling sideways all the way down the hill until they stopped just above the shoreline. Ya, they didn’t haul lumber through here by rail after that.”

Sitting at the bus station in Forks:

“Oh, you’re going to Rialto Beach and LaPush? You should check out the ship graves above there. There was this one guy who lost everyone on his ship and barely crawled away to help. He eventually had a daughter and died. Many years later, the daughter came back to the point where his ship went down and committed suicide.”

I could listen to this guy for hours.

One evening I was riding back to Moran SP on Orcas Island and I boarded the bus with a tour of well-off people going to Rosario Resort.

They were almost high. I mean they were giddy. It was hilarious, and it was infectious. I mean, we made fun of everything from bus-mounted big-game hunting to fast-food restaurants. Who says rich people are all aloof and annoying?

When I was going back through Whidbey Island to the Olympic Penninsula, I boarded the bus and tried to give them money. The driver said all of their fares are free because a sales tax in their county pays for the transit system. I love socialism when I don’t have to pay for it. They didn’t take my money.  I didn’t complain. I’m Dutch. End of story.

When I was riding the Island Transit 1 bus on Whidbey Island, I was staring out the window at the Cascades and listening to Jack Johnson (a highly gratifying experience).

Anyway, all of a sudden, the bus stops and this lady in her 30s comes aboard. Then she turns around and beckons some people in. Suddenly there are 15 or 20 little kids scurrying all over the place. One of them (he looked 4 years old) just starts staring at me. I stared at him and made a face and he giggled. Then 3 others started staring at me. It was hilarious and mildly cute, but then they got off at the next stop. 😦 I want kids.

On Orcas Island, I struck up a great acquantance with the bus driver at the privately-owned transit service there. He’s this old guy who sells cars on the mainland and comes up to the islands on the weekends to work the buses for his son. Really great guy, talked with him for 2 hours after one of his runs was done and we were waiting at the ferry docks.

So, we’re going along the coast and he asks me if I have a place to stay. I said I was camping at Moran State Park, and he nodded.

“See, what’s actually going to happen is you’re going to find this rich girl in her 20’s, and you’re gonna rescue her or something. She’ll invite you over to her summer mansion, and I’ll see you on the side of the road with a big fat grin on your face. I’ll know what happened.”
“…”
“Eh?”
“If only. [[laughs]]”

I’ve wanted to update this thing so many times and failed so quickly thereafter that it’s not even funny. That being said, I’ll post a couple things here before retiring for a few months (since I’m not riding anymore).

This summer, I needed a break and time to think so I took a trip to Puget Sound, accompanied by nought but amazing music. I rode the Amtrak up to Seattle, stayed at a hostel, and then biked/hitch-hiked/rode the bus all around the Puget Sound/Juan de Fuca area. Definitely one of the best times of my life so far.

Now you have to understand, before I got up there, I had to make an itinerary that included bus rides everyday. In order to make the bus-riding work, I had to find all of the transit systems in the area, get their info, work it out with my plans, sequence their schedules, and plan enough money to have with me for fares. Needless to say, it was the greatest feat of busmanship in my career thusfar. And it worked.

But enough bragging like a pompous fool, let’s get to stories.

When I was in the San Juan Islands, I caught the San Juan Transit bus one day and rode around the island. They have this one stretch of the route where you can look out over the ocean to Canada and see killer whales below. It was awesome. Another day on the same route, the bus driver was talking about the celebrities who lived on the islands:

“Ya, back in the old days, we used to have famous people with class. I mean, you’d get people who had, you know, fought with Ernest Hemingway in the War or something. Now, we just have the makeup-faced fascinations of the paparazzi.”

When I got back to Friday Harbor, I found out that Michael Jackson had just died. Ironic.