Last week the Metro Red Line celebrated its 20th anniversary serving the subterranean commuters Los Angeles, and The Militant put on a little contest to commemorate it.
Entries were simple: Submit a one-paragraph anecdote on one of your experiences riding the subway.
And today, we have a winner, selected from an anonymous and unspecified panel of judges: Congratulations to Heather Johnson of Koreatown for winning the priceless package of Metro memorabilia!
Here's her entry:
A few years ago when I still worked in downtown LA I commuted via Red Line to the Civic Center station. I was dozing off in my seat when I had a weird feeling that I was being watched. Turns out, I was! A street artist was sketching me. When I got off at my stop, he gave me the sketch for free. It's actually quite a likeness. The sketch is currently on my wall and I keep getting told I should frame it.
Her account could be construed as either sweet or creepy, however you want to view the situation. But it nicely described the forms of human interaction that have only really occurred in the past two decades, something that rarely happens on the bus, and can never happen in a car.
We have some other great stories worth sharing, though!
Being a Clippers season ticket holder, I take the Red Line downtown to every game. Most days I take the Red Line the train is full with blank, tired faces, maybe a couple of conversations happening, nothing spectacular. One day, I invited my friend, who came from out of town, to the game. He had never been on the train before. We get in the train car and there are people getting down. Someone had a boom box blasting some funk and people were dancing. It was a party all the way town to 7th. We get of the train and my friend says "Man it must be fun to ride the train to every game.
-- Sean Baello, Los Feliz
Thanks, Sean. And if we do get to see a Clippers Parade this June, can you tell your fellow Clips Fans (diehard and bandwagon alike) to take the train for that one?
Every May Day protest, riding the red line with protest signs and wearing shirts with specific messaging, I end up having some genuine conversations with folks on the train. Folks ask what the sign are about, why am I protesting, what is May Day etc. and I answer their questions to the best of my capabilities.
More often than not, they'll see me wearing a shirt that reads, I am undocumented. That'll get the conversation started and it give me the opportunity to talk about not being a legal resident of the US, the work I do organizing with the immigrant community and putting a face to the issues folks have with immigration.
By the end of the conversation, folks leave with a little knowledge about what's going and they got to hear it from someone who is personally invested and affected by it.
-- Erick Huerta, Boyle Heights
Dude, Erick...that was more than a paragraph. But hey, a great example of how transit spurs human dialogue. Thanks!
One time, I was riding the Red Line towards Union Station, and a man with a very old and ragged-looking accordion came on. He gave a really good performance, and some people in the car, including myself, applauded him.
-- Joshua Insel, Studio City
Okay, that was shorter than a paragraph. But thanks for sharing, Joshua! BTW, was the accordion player accompanied by a woman carrying a baby and asking change from the rest of the passengers? Those are the first Metro Gypsies! How European...
There are many great experiences I've had riding the Red Line. I remember taking the Red Line with my grandmother for the first time in 2001 and there began my love for riding this train. I’d never been on a vehicle like this before. I had a great view while sitting in the front. I could see the beginning of each tunnel we passed through. I took in my surroundings and was aware of the speed of the train and in awe of the engineering it took to build this train. I saw that some seats were removed to accomodate bicycles. I saw that people from all walks of life came to ride. I met the train operator and ever since then, we would exchange greetings and small talk everytime I rode the train. I’m passionate about the Red Line, because it has impressed me from day one and has been part of my daily ritual. The Red Line has become such an important part of my life because it is the only way I get to explore our great city.
-- Marc Caraan, Burbank
Thanks, Marc! "I saw that some seats were removed to accomodate bicycles. I saw that people from all walks of life came to ride." Next time you see angry people wearing yellow shirts handing out fliers telling people how "racist" the subway is, remind them of what you just said.
And finally, this most honorable of honorable mentions:
|Photo provided by Chase White|
-- Chase White, Highland Park
Thanks for all your entries! Didn't win? No worries! The Militant will throw more cool contests like this, so stay tuned and STAY MILITANT!