Saturday, October 27, 2007

GASP! SHOCK! The Militant Rides Transit To Work - For The First Time!

The Militant would like to make a humbling confession - despite all his Militancy, before today, he has not taken transit to his current workplace.

Now, the Militant has taken transit to work before. He has worked various jobs in Downtown Los Angeles in the late '90s and gladly rode the subway there. More recently, in a job he worked at up until summer of last year, he was known around the office as "the dude who rode his bicycle to work."

But he has an excuse. Without giving away exactly where or what line of work he does, it is not a regular 9-5 job, and most of it is done during the weekends. So when he drives to work, there is usually very little traffic congestion on the road.

Having said that, the Militant has a bad habit of leaving the compound at the very last possible minute, which usually results in dangerously fast speeds, risky turns, cutting lanes, and various cuss words. It's actually a miracle he has never gotten involved in an accident this way.

But fortunately for the people on the road, the Militant had a $5 (M) Day Pass in his hand today and thought, "Why the heck not." With a Day Pass, there's no stopping the Militant.

The commute involved a ride on the Red Line, a transfer to a Metro Rapid line, and if necessary, a short ride on a connecting line, although the last bus trip was walkable enough that it was just an option.

The Militant rode past an unspecified number of stops on the subway, finally alighting at the Wilshire/Vermont station, emerging from the shadows of the brand new transit-oriented development there to hop on to a (M) Rapid 720 bus, which had just arrived. Yes, it was crowded and packed, but the Militant still found ample room to stand comfortably. He actually liked the very urban rush and felt like an active participant of the city (not that he never is). He could have taken a Purple Line transfer at Wilshire/Vermont to get to Wilshire/Western quicker, but at least this way meant one less transfer to worry about. The bus trudged on slowly in traffic in the one mile between Vermont and Western, but after leaving the density of K-Town and into Hancock Park, the bus picked up speed dramatically. In no time it had arrived at La Brea Avenue, right next to the (M) Customer Service Center (pictured above - hey, what's that little orange critter doing up there?). The Militant could have walked the next few blocks to his workplace, but it had started to drizzle at that point (to the Militant's delight, as the rain would have helped clear the air and hasten the firefighting efforts of the wildfires), so he caught the (M) Local 212 La Brea bus to his final destination.

Of course, what a wonderful would it would be if the Purple Line went that far today. Still, though the bus still pales in comparison to a nice, smooth electrically-propelled train ride, riding the bus these days is waaaaaaay more enjoyable that it was in the days of the era of the Rough, Tough and Dirty's annoyingly vibrating buses with the "cockroach brown" interiors (not just their color, but their ability to camouflage such vermin). Also those buses of yesteryear had pushbutton strips that hardly ever worked, so missing your stop was a common occurrence, even worse when the bus was so packed you couldn't even reach the exit in time.

Today, buses have clearly articulate pre-recorded "next" stop" announcements, have much more brighter interiors and though those TransitTV LED screens on buses are an annoyance in themselves, they're actually not that bad in helping pass the time away. So bus riders of today: You actually got it good.

When all was said and done, it was 30 minutes, only 10 minutes longer than driving, and minus the potential stress and risk of getting into an accident. Plus, he arrived earlier than usual.

Getting to work was a breeze, but heading back to the compound wasn't as convenient, though he was in no immediate rush anyway. Two 720 Rapid buses, both packed to the gills, passed by him and the crowd of people waiting at the La Brea/Wilshire Rapid stop. Ad to that the fact that for the does the Militant put this...nature not only called, she was blowin' up his gastrointestinal cellphone. There was none of those JCDecaux self-cleaning Metro Latrines anywhere in sight (the closest one was in Downtown), so he just held it steady for a while.

Eventually the Rapid came and the Militant alighted the bus at Normandie where he crossed the street and headed to the Wilshire Plaza Hotel (formerly the Radisson Wilshire). Urban Survival Tip #1: When ya gotta go, hotel lobbies have the cleanest public restrooms anywhere.

Finally, after having completed his, er, business, he walked around Wilshire for a bit, hitting up a nearby ATM and hopped on the Purple Line for a stop before heading back to his compound on the Red Line.

Later that night, he had to attend the birthday festivities of an operative in the West Valley. Certainly he could have continued the use of the Day Pass and taken the Red and Orange lines there, but he knew he would have been out past the end of the operating hours of both lines, so he drove there, and there was no traffic whatsoever to worry about at that time. But doing so wasn't hypocrisy at all, as the Militant is not dependent on a singe form of transportation, and embraces all the choices he has at his disposal.

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