Posts Tagged ‘ trimet ’

Intimidation.

Occasionally when I’m low on writing material and the hipsters in the park don’t oblige me with yoga to write about, I’m forced back to my Trimet riding ways.

Since I’ve moved into Portland, I’ve had very little cause to ride Trimet. My bike gets me everywhere I need to go with only slightly more chance of bodily harm.

However, yesterday, I was tired and low on ideas, so I boarded #14 and just rode for a while, notebook in hand, waiting for something to happen.

I was shocked by how boring the ride was. The most interesting thing that happened was that I discovered a new coffee shop.

But after we reached the end of the line and headed back into town, things got more interesting.

The previously deserted (except for me) bus suddenly started filling at an alarming rate. I grudgingly removed by bag from the seat next to me as I noted fewer and fewer open seats.

Then, at a particularly active stop, a guy got on the bus and headed straight for the back, where I was seated.

I watched him as he approached, sizing him up, deciding whether or not I should feel intimidated.

Over six feet tall– intimidation factor of 1.

Neck tattoos– intimidation factor of 2, (ridiculous factor of 3.)

Basketball attire– intimidation factor of 1.

But more than anything, I noticed the guy’s eyebrows. He had the angriest eyebrows I’ve ever seen. It was like there was a magnet in his nose that was attracting the corners of his eyebrows. Intimidation factor of 5.

Total Intimidation Points– 9.

As I evaluated him, the guy stepped up and sat down beside me. Fortunately I hadn’t been taking notes on him (yet) so I didn’t have to worry about him seeing what I thought about his angry eyebrows.

The bus began moving again, and he reached down to dig around in his backpack. I pretended to look out the window, which had forehead marks on it. Disgusting.

Eyebrow guy pulled something out of his bag, and I glanced over, wondering if his Intimidation Factor was about to go up.

With a look of innocence and purity, the Man with the Angriest Eyebrows was shuffling through a deck of Magic: The Gathering cards. Intimidation factor of -10.

Total Intimidation Points by the time he moved to a vacant seat– 0.

Which just goes to show that you should never judge anyone by their appearance.

Why I Love Living in Portland.

I know it’s old news by now, but I live in Portland. What I may have failed to mention is that I recently moved into Portland itself instead of living out in Lake Oswego, because I like Portland. Therefore, I have compiled a (very short) list of the things that are making me fall in love with this city.
  • The Coffee
As far as I know, most places in the country (and indeed the world) you can get coffee, but in Portland, you can get excellent coffee everywhere. I’m not kidding– everywhere. Even at random little greasy spoon places, if you order a cup of coffee it’ll probably be from Stumptown or Portland Roasting Company. Neither of those are my favorite roasters, but they do a damn fine job compared to the Folgers you’ll get at little places in Central Oregon.
  • The People-Watching and Eavesdropping
A few weeks ago, my sisters and I were walking around SE Portland. It was on that random weekend in April when it was 80 degrees and sunny, and since Jessie had misplaced her sunglasses, she was wearing ski goggles instead. No big deal. All through our walk of a half mile to the clothes store, only one person looked at her weird. Indeed, that guy was the only person who even did a double-take. He must have been from out of town, because he looked like he was either going to fall out of his chair or cry.
But therein lies my point. There are so many weird people here. The people-watching opportunities are endless; and I shan’t go on too long, but the eavesdropping is amazing, too. Just in coffee shops or on the bus I’ve heard so many random conversations, including one guy who was lecturing a stranger on how his crucifix was so much more powerful than his voodoo charms.
  • The Weather
I mentioned before that I think the weather in Central Oregon contributes to the significant writer’s block I have there. Since I grew up with sunshine, I take it for granted. It bores me. Rain, though? I love it. Today was gloomy all day, and as soon as it started pouring rain I breathed a sigh of relief. Call me crazy if you want, but I adore Portland weather.
  • The Public Transit
As much as I love to hate on Trimet, it’s actually really good. Yes, some of the buses come early or late, but they always come. Also, you can’t beat it for people watching and eavesdropping. Sometimes when I’m running low on writing material, I just go take a ride on Trimet, and the people always inspire me somehow. True story.
  • The Pride
I love how stoked Portlanders are just to be in Portland. I like the stickers that say Keep Portland Weird, even though the people who work too hard to be weird annoy me. I love how granola the city is, and how it’s so easy to find local and organic food. It makes my heart content how the church I’ve been to is so focused on being genuine but still proud of being Portlanders. I love living in Portland.

How to Kill Time while Waiting for the Bus

  1. Draw the squirrel you saw pancaked in the road between your house and the bus stop.
  2. Send mass texts to your friends about how annoying Trimet is even if you secretly like it.
  3. Tweet a lot.
  4. Instagram.
  5. Write subtle responses to obnoxious graffiti. Ignore the legal implications, saying to yourself that you’re just making the world a better place.
  6. Obsessively count and re-count the handful of change that is your fare.
  7. Bemoan your bedraggled purse.
  8. Pretend to be homeless.
  9. Slightly awkward self-photos.
  10. Write lists of things to do while waiting for the bus.
  11. Glare at people driving by in an attempt to make them uncomfortable.

What’s your favorite way to kill time when you get to the bus stop too early?

Inside Voices

Sometimes, the day before I am scheduled to blog, I don’t have ideas. I usually have a few hours of siting staring at my computer screen hopelessly, desperately wishing that I would suddenly be struck with a lightning bolt of inspiration. However, I think some of the least interesting experiences of my life have been provided by the internet, so yesterday I planned to go to the climbing gym.

After inviting my sister along to this rather athletic outing, I rather abruptly changed my plans when she said, “I don’t wanna be inside today.” (she also spotted Waldo driving by, but I’ll leave that story to her.) I realized that being outside in the park with her and her fiance was a grand idea, so I switched into normal clothes and trucked down to the bus stop, worried that I might miss my bus.

I’m so glad I didn’t.

When I boarded 35, I was surprised to hear several raised voices on the normally quiet bus, and as I walked toward my typical destination of the back, I quickly veered off course when I spotted the sources of the voices.

Filling up most of the back section was 7 or 8 frat boys, sprawled around, passing a can of Monster Energy drink.

At first, their shouts of “We’re in Lake Oswego now!” and “That’s a big-ass house!” (Big ass-house, I thought,) annoyed me a lot. Then, I realized they were very much the opposite of clever and witty, and I find idiots to be amusing. And that’s when I started taking notes of their conversation. (Really kind of creepy of me, I know, but how else am I supposed to write entertaining blogs?)

Their shouts appeared to terrify the small children near the front of the bus, and they and their father escaped at the LO transit center. “And they flee!” I wrote, “I don’t blame ’em.”

We left LO and headed down highway 43, along the Willamette. One of the frat boys exclaimed something about the country club across the river being a house. “That’s not no house,” one of them said, and I wrote it down because I admittedly  judge people with grammar that horrible.

Then their conversation shifted from speculating on the surroundings (“They build fences so you can’t even see how rich they are from the road,” “They’d just slap handcuffs on you as soon as you step in the yard,” “Smell that river dude, it’s like a big cesspool,”) to tattoos.

One of the guys thought one of the other guys should get a Monster logo tattooed on his ribs, like it was being torn away. “The Monster symbol? I would never get that on me, never,” exclaimed the tattooee in question, and took a deep swig from the shared Monster can.

Then their conversation moved to who could “smoke” whom in foot races and/or who could do more pushups (“I was a runningback for six years!” “I could smoke anyone in this bus.”)

“This is the dumbest conversation I’ve ever heard,” I wrote, “I have such difficulty not laughing at stupid people.”

A lady boarded the bus about ten minutes away from downtown and sat two rows in front of me. The frat boys were, throughout the ride, cursing loudly and profusely, and no-one seemed to notice. It’s something you just learn to tolerate riding public transit in Portland– unless, of course, you’re this lady in question.

She seemed immune to most curses, but every time the frat boys would drop an f-bomb, she would whirl around, with a look on her face something like this.

I seriously never have seen anyone in my life whose eyebrows or the corners of her mouth have been forced into such angry positions.

She was so angry. I stifled so many bursts of laughter. One man a row ahead of me, at one point, turned around, observed the frat boys in the midst of a particularly heated exchange, then turned to the front again, laughing out loud. That man was awesome.

About two minutes before 35’s penultimate stop downtown, one of the frat boys finally noticed Angry Lady’s infuriated glares, and said to his companions, “Dudes, inside voices.”

“Why?” one of them veritably shouted in reply, “Because,” the first frat boy uttered in a hushed and urgent voice, “I think we just pissed off that lady.”

For the remaining moments, they were slightly more silent, but burst into their loudness once again as they disembarked at the same stop as me, bee-lining across the street to the McDonald’s.

I sat on the curb, furiously scribbling other snippets of their conversations and drafting this blog; I was just relieved that they didn’t get on my next bus.

 

The Journal, Stranger Repellent

Since I’ve been living in Lake Oswego, I’ve been riding public transit more and more. This is fine with me–  Trimet does well getting me to the few destinations I pursue that I can’t access on my feet or scooter.

Riding at night, however, is another matter entirely. I have yet to brave Trimet after dark. I’m not sure my reasoning is rational, but I just have a gut feeling that creepers are more prone to blatant creepage after the sun has gone down. A few weeks ago I posted a status on Facebook whining about this fact. My friend Andrew Gross had a great piece of wisdom– he suggested that the key to bus safety was to be the guy that no-one sits next to.

“Brilliant!” I thought, “I’ll grow a nasty beard!”

Jests ensued, including the suggestions that I stop bathing and let my hair revert to dreadlocks, or wear this in lieu of the beard I cannot grow.

Today though,  I made a startling discovery.

As I rode the 35 into downtown, I cradled my moleskine journal in my lap, drafting a blog which I may or may not write on Wednesday.

I wrote vigorously as the thoughts freed themselves from my brain through the escape route of my pen. Every few sentences I looked up from my black and white world to observe the people who came and went from the bus, as is my habit. Also by habit, I moved my purse from the seat next to me to the floor as the bus began to fill.

However full the bus got, though, no-one took the seat next to me. The young man across the aisle stole furtive glances in my direction.

Suddenly intrigued by the empty seat beside me, I watched the next batch of passengers board. A few people walked my way, toward the back of the bus. Each of them glanced at the notes in my lap and chose a seat somewhere else. I’m sure I imagined it, but they seemed nervous.

I smiled to myself, then picked up the offending book and scrawled (for I do scrawl) a few more sentences cursing daylight savings time (for there were four people napping on the bus today as opposed to the usual none.)

It may have been my admittedly slightly hipsterific attire, or the admitted pretentious attitude known to go along with Moleskine notebooks (don’t judge me, they’re so awesome,) or maybe today was just a lucky day.

But I like to think that people assumed I would write judgmental things about them if they sat next to me. (Which I might.)

The judgmental look on my face isn’t on purpose, though.

Also included in the strenuous drawing is ugly bus seats!

As long as the people sitting behind me don’t read over my shoulder, I should be good to go.

 

West vs. East

I love Portland. I really do. Every day I discover some new quirk which I enjoy.

For example.

Today, I discovered how distinct the East/West divide really can be. The weather was horrible– pouring rain just on the verge of snow for the bulk of the afternoon, and I had the exquisite pleasure of riding the bus over to the East side (again; I’m noticing a pattern here.)

As I waited for my bus downtown, I was surrounded by a forest of umbrellas. Personally, I find umbrellas to be horribly impractical– your hands freeze and nothing but your head and shoulders are kept dry, unless it’s only the slightest drizzle.

Anyway, I boarded the bus. We crossed over the Willamette river, and suddenly, all of the umbrellas were gone. Disappeared. Nada.

It’s like Westsiders are like “It’s rainy! We need umbrellas! We must take up three times the reasonable amount of space on the sidewalk!”  Eastsiders are like “Lol umbrellas are for noobs.”

Even people walking over the bridge must have stowed their umbrellas away somewhere and magically swapped to (more practical) rain gear before arriving on the east side of the river.

That is all.

The Lost Bethany Chronicles, Part 2

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I have a little bit of an ongoing problem with getting lost.

Round two with Trimet involved, again, trying to find my way to my sister’s house. It seems like a simple task– walk a half mile west, board the bus. Get off at a certain stop, walk a block south and board another bus. Get off and cross the street. Simple, right?

Well, not when you’re in a city where you have no sense of direction.

On the journey in question, I successfully boarded the correct bus, and even got off at the correct place to make my transfer. However, as soon as I stepped off the bus I had a horrible realization.

Walk south one block, the direction said. I looked up at the buildings and spun slowly in a circle. Not only did I have no idea which way south was, but I had no idea which way was which at all. I took a deep breath and started walking, glaring irately at my phone GPS which had failed me yet again. I walked about four blocks in one direction, turned right and walked another five to six blocks, then turned right again and headed back the direction I’d come. All the while my annoying GPS declared in large letters “SEARCHING FOR GPS.” (I later figured out that I had gone west, north, and east– every direction but the one  I needed to.)

Not helpful.

I walked by the courthouse. I walked by PSU. I walked by a lot full of food carts. Finally, my phone beeped– a notification that the GPS had finally been located. Eagerly, I retrieved the device in question from my pocket, and discovered I was only a block away from my destination. At a power-walk pace I headed that way.  I spotted my stop and approached it just as the bus I needed pulled away. It sucked.

However, I was in (relative) luck– since I was downtown, this stop was serviced every fifteen minutes, so I didn’t have long to wait.

As I stood, I noticed a rather short young man standing on the corner, approaching strangers with a binder in hand. It seemed he was trying to get people to listen to a particular shpiel, and after I observed him being rudely rebuffed several times, I decided that if he were to approach me, I would be nice and listen to him even if I didn’t care about whatever he was promoting.

Well, he did approach me.

First he complemented my state of plaid flannel shirt– “Bringing it back,” he said, awkwardly touching my arm. I laughed uncomfortably as he launched into his speech, talking about poverty, privileges (like being literate) and how relatively wealthy even those below the poverty line  are in this country.

I half-listened. I already knew that  I was going to say no to whatever he wanted me to sign up for, until he finally got around to the point that he was gathering people to sign up for sponsor children. For a moment I considered it. I think that sponsoring a kid is a great thing to do. I changed my mind when he revealed the kicker; a sign-up sheet which had spaces for credit card information and not a whole lot else. Mentally, I backpedaled, desperately thinking of an excuse.

“Well,” I said, “I don’t think I’m going to sign up right now.”

“Oh, well, what’s holding you back?” Zack asked. (His name was Zack. If you read this, Zack, your pitch was actually very good. I’m just squeamish about credit card information.)

Desperately, I played the poverty card. “I’m poor,” I said, “I kind of haven’t eaten yet today.”

Zack started his addendum speech about how easy it is to cut little things out of your expenses like eating out or coffee (hah.)

Just as I was starting to feel cornered, my salvation came in the form of the bus. “Look, Zack,” I said, stepping away, “I’ll see if I can work it into my budget, and if I can I’ll go to your website to sign up.”

The thing is, I checked out the website and he was legitimate. I just really hate being put on the spot. (Children.org if you’re curious.)

Anyway.

Today I went round three with Trimet, this time trying to find my way home from my sister’s house. I eventually had success, but I swear that the mobile trip planner has led me astray more than my own lack of sense of direction. Thrice within twenty minutes I looked up routes home based on my current GPS location whilst downtown, and thrice the mobile trip planner told me different routes.

Finally, I went with my instinct, and it was (shockingly) better than the trip planner.

Downtown Portland breaks my heart, though. In front of the Arlene Shnitzer concert hall, an old lady in a motorized wheelchair solicited passersby, asking only for a dollar. I gave her an orange instead.

Then I passed by at least four other people asking for money. I only responded to the ones who spoke directly to me, but seriously, I wanted to feed all of them a nutritious feast– even though one homeless man asked me if I had a more ripe orange to give him. Oh well. The homelessness problem breaks my freakin’ heart. I can’t help but imagine what if it was me in their shoes.

Despite getting lost and other distractions, I made it home successfully.

Trimet, I win.

%d bloggers like this: