I’m rather enjoying not having a car in L.A. It’s day five and I’m managing just fine with my feet, good friends and even public transportation. You read that right: I took the bus yesterday.
I used to be queen of the RTD, back when it was called that (officially the Southern California Rapid Transit District). But somewhere along the way, the RTD wasn’t good enough and L.A.’s bus system changed its name to Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Metro for short. How original.
I decided to try the Metro yesterday. As I walked to the bus stop, one zoomed by. Drats! I figured I was in for a 10-minute wait. But no sooner had I positioned myself on the bench and noted how dangerously close the bus bench is to traffic that a bus pulled up in front of me. I didn’t even have time to pull out my BlackBerry to send a quick status report. I boarded the bus and searched for somewhere to put my coins. I saw where bills went. Finally the bus driver kindly pointed out the coin slot to me.
“Oh,” I said sheepishly. “I haven’t been on the bus in 30 years.”
“Really?” she said. “A lot has changed.”
I sat behind the woman and we chatted about her route once I saw that she was turning when I didn’t expect her to. But she circled back to where I had to get off and I bid her adieu. I ran three errands and returned to where I was let off. I checked to make sure the bus sitting there was going in my direction and boarded. Wouldn’t you know it? It was the same bus driver.
“You’re ready to go back?” she said.
It was like I had my own personal bus driver. I sat near her and explained how I had arrived from New York and I hadn’t bought a car yet. I remarked how I like the bus service and just might become a regular rider rather than buying a car. My fellow passengers smiled and noded, as if there were rebelling against buying a car as well.
When we were near my stop, an elderly woman who had boarded with me and wore plum lipstick to match her plum outfit leaned toward me and asked if I was a nurse or an actress. I explained that I am a writer. She looked perplexed. Journalist, I said. Not really caring what I did she went on to tell me that she had a problem with her ear, how she had put peroxide in it but it hadn’t seemed to work. How she went to an Arab female doc but the doc couldn’t find any problem. The lady turned to me for help with her ear problem. I reiterated that I am not in the medical field and wished her well finding someone. I thanked my lucky stars that I had arrived at my stop.
I once again bid Robin, the driver, goodbye and told her I would see her later.
It was quite a pleasant experience. And cheap too. A bus ride in L.A. is only $1.25, compared to $2.00 in New York, which will soon raise the fare to $2.25.
I later told my brother Kevin that I rode the bus and he suggested that I not make a habit of it. I don’t see anything wrong with it for short rides. I probably don’t want to take a bus to a glam event but for nearby errands it works.
That evening Tina picked me up for cocktails. And when I had lunch with a friend the other day he picked me up but that was because he didn’t want to wait 30 minutes for me to walk to the restaurant, which I was more than willing to do. While we were out we went to a used car lot where he knows the owner. No good cars though. Just high prices. I asked him to drop me off at Home Depot and I walked home from there, stopping at the health club to pick up a 7-day guest pass.
But for the most part, I’m still walking though. This morning I left my house at 6:05 a.m. and walked to Home Depot. I returned home to drop off my bag and plywood and then walked to the health club. I mentioned to Shindana that I walked today and she said she told a friend about my walking to the grocery store. The friend said she walked to Larchmont Plaza once and she felt like a street walker because people were honking their horns.
No one bothers me when I walk. I’ve even passed a couple of other people walking as well so I’m not alone on the sidewalks.
And at least in L.A., no one flashes their headlights at me like they did when I walked in Naples, Italy.