by: Victoria Farr (MPL ’12)
I am a 21-year-old female who enjoys taking long walks, likes traveling, and appreciates punctuality. I’m new to the Los Angeles area, so I’m looking for someone—the “one”—to take me around. I’ve tried all the online services, but it just didn’t work out with all the buses that Metro’s Trip Planner and Google Maps set me up with. I started to despair that I’d never find the bus that could meet my needs, that I’d have to lower my standards—but then it happened. I was walking on W. Adams Blvd—it was a Wednesday—when I looked up and saw the sign that read “Metro 37: Downtown LA via Adams Blvd.” I rushed home and looked up the map and timetable and I couldn’t believe it—Metro 37 stopped just 600 feet from my apartment and could drop me off only three blocks from my office downtown. I could finally minimize the distance I’d have to walk in the dark!
Our first date was exactly one week later. That morning as I was getting dressed I had butterflies in my stomach—I had already been on so many buses and I knew that I shouldn’t keep my hopes up, but I felt that things would be different this time. The bus was supposed to run every 13 minutes and I didn’t have to be at the office until 10:00 a.m. I left my apartment at 9:21 a.m. and I arrived at the Metro 37 bus stop at 9:24 a.m.—I don’t mind being a few minutes early since it’s better than being late and missing the bus. I began to wonder whether there would even be a bus to miss, though, after the first 13 minutes passed and there was no sign of the bus. By the time another woman at the bus stop asked me, “how long have you been waiting?” in Spanish, I realized I had been waiting a full 20 minutes! I told her this, in Spanish, and was so thrilled with the opportunity to practice my Spanish for the first time that the next minute that passed felt like, well, a minute.
I wish I could say it was love at first sight—but no, it was 9:45 a.m. and the bus was late. My first impression was that the Metro 37 must really get around—by the time it reached my stop, it was so crowded there were four people standing beyond the yellow safety line and I didn’t think there was any room for me. I managed to squeeze into the middle of the bus. I am too short to reach the overhead bar and I was sandwiched between two people such that I could not grab hold of the handles available on the back of seats. Great—this bus was a player and it was reckless. I was so disgusted with the bus that when I finally got off at my stop downtown I forgot to check my watch, but I arrived at the office at 10:10 a.m.—10 minutes late. I had dressed nicely—I even put on makeup, which I only do on special occasions—and I had budgeted approximately 40 minutes for a trip that actually took me 49 minutes, 21 of which I spent waiting around. How dare the Metro 37!
During the day, I felt guilty—maybe I was judging the Metro 37 too harshly. Maybe it was just having a bad morning—I didn’t like starting our relationship on the wrong foot, so when I left the office at 6:01 p.m., I headed in the direction of the Metro 37 outbound stop. I got there by 6:12 p.m. and patiently waited on a bench. And waited. The bus arrived at 6:31 p.m. and I managed to get a window seat toward the front. Lateness aside, I thought that this would be a good opportunity to get to know the bus one-on-one, but it filled to capacity—in reality it probably exceeded capacity—at the next stop. So much for alone time. The bus had to bypass all successive stops and I could see the crowds of people who shook their fists and made other hand gestures when they realized that the bus was passing their stop. That was a bad sign—what if it bypassed my stop? Would the Metro 37 go so far as to stand me up?
It became quite clear that the bus had little regard for my feelings and my comfort. Despite making infrequent stops, it was still a turbulent ride and a stroller belonging to the woman seated next to me rolled into my knees several times. The baby belonging to the stroller was sitting on the woman’s lap and it grabbed a fistful of my shirtsleeve and tugged until my left shoulder and bra strap were exposed. I successfully recovered my sleeve, but not my composure. It was the worst first date—the worst first date that would never end. I finally got home at 6:54 p.m. The Metro 37 had bypassed the majority of its stops, but it still took me 53 minutes to travel door-to-door. The bus hadn’t gotten me home as early as I would have liked, but at least I only had to walk a total of four blocks in the dark.
The Metro 37 and I have tried to reconcile our differences. I realized that it might make me a better person by teaching me to be patient. I feel like I deserve better, though, so I’m still on the market for the elusive “one.”
This is a great article. I really like the angle of the “the first date”- very clever!
You should send this to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and to whatever other entity governs the bus transportation system in Los Angeles!
Well, the East Coast (NYC) has similar problems. We hear this from Martha who has to take daily the subway to her high-school, so we sympathize with you. But keep your spirits up, Sunshine. It’s a matter to get used to the lifestyle in a metropolitan area. We assume that Boston was different – was it?