Metro Conversations: 99 Problems, and the Girl is 98.4 of them

As I was riding the Blue Line home to the Valley from the Del Amo stop today. It was strangely warm. Strange, because it hadn't been warm in a while, at least it seemed like a while.

Though there were some stupid kids obstructing the stairway while I ran up with my bike not even knowing when the next train was coming, I'd made it to the stop just on time!

Locate a car with space for my bike at the ends of each car, not the actual designated bicycle areas in the Blue Line which most people don't understand, especially in traffic, is in the MIDDLE of the car.

Get in. Flip the bike. First few rows close to my bicycle, taken. About 2 rows of seats down, see a bunch of Asian kids napping, sat next to one.

Next stop, Artesia. A whole bunch of people get off from the first two rows, allowing me to sit on the right-hand side as close as possible to my bicycle, while not sitting on the handicapped-reserved seats.

The nuances of my public transportation sitting habits.

I even decide not to jackass it today while sitting down. That means I take the window seat, allowing space for a passenger to sit on the outer seat.

Usually, because I'm always on the lookout for my bicycle, I want to be able to access the bicycle freely, so I sit on the outer seat, preventing others from sitting down and retaining a domain of 2 seats, though I am technically only occupying 1 seat.

I do this because I hate getting sealed and trapped in a window seat by some stranger, and by "stranger", I usually mean probably some other dude. Today, I decided that it didn't matter.

I pull out my so-obviously pink netbook, remember all the work I still have to do, and get crackin'. As we near the Compton stop, some Latino dude with a mustache and some kind of tat on his arm rolls out of nowhere, plops down, and asks me how far the Washington stop is.

Being near the Compton stop, I say, "about 20 minutes" or about "4 or 5 stops", unsure really of how far we were.

He looks kinda disheartened. He asks me where the Green Line stop is.

I think for a split second and say that it's the next stop. But after recognizing that the Green Line stop is pretty far from his request of "Washington", I ask him "wait, where you tryin' to go?"

"Monterey [Park]. But I gotta get to Union Station."

A native-colored woman with a baby in a stroller joins our running conversation. "Oh you just take the train all the way."

I elaborate saying, "yeah, you just stay on the train. You'll have to take the red line to Union Station. Then you take the gold line." Clarifying my own thoughts, I repeat.

Yeah, stay on this line till the last stop. Get on the red line, it'll be about 10 minutes to Union station. And from Union Station you go to the Gold Line.

Visibly flustered by all the trains he'd have to take, he says, "man, I'm lost. I left at like 12."

By then it was around 3:30 in the afternoon.

"Man, where you coming from?"

He says "Anaheim."

Excited that he might mean Anaheim St. in Long Beach, hoping he might be a part of the Longos gang in Long Beach and therefore provide an "in" for my research, he clarifies that he means "Anaheim", the city, to my slight dismay.

Given his confusion over the train stops, I ask him, "this your first time on the train?"

He nods yeah. "Man, I'm gonna be late!"

I give a nod and say "Yeah, you really have to plan your trips out on the Metro."

He says "I woulda left earlier if my girl hadn't snapped at me."

I say, "Oh damn, what happened?"

"I just broke up with her, found out that she was cheating."

"Ohhhhh man. I feel for you dude."

It was interesting that we shared this connection, straight male to straight male. It didn't matter that he was Latino, looked like a former gangbanger and that I was a privileged ass Asian graduate student typing away on my computer.

He tells me that they had been together for 4 years, and had a kid together. He had a job at a Japanese restaurant in Monterey Park, which he used supported the both of them and their child. He was wondering if the kid was his. He was fed up, he was disgusted, he was feeling bad.

I wanted to communicate that the pain was somewhat shared.

My own experience fresh in memory, I tried to assure beyond the standard, true, but somewhat empathy-lacking responses of "move on" or "there are plenty of fish in the sea."

"Man, I'm going to start drinking again."

"Man, don't do that. You know what I did? I just wrote a lot, just expressed everything. I know it feels like you just want to do something. You talk to anyone?"

He told me that he hadn't had the chance to.

And here he was on the train almost late to work.

We continued the conversation. After checking his phone, he decided that he was not going all the way to Union Station but was going to catch a bus from Grand Station.

I asked him why he wasn't driving. The reason? He'd lent the car to his girlfriend. A car he'd been driving with no problem for 7 years. And it had broken down earlier in the week.

"You know what the worst part is? She took my rent money!"

To me that was sort of an auxilary piece of the puzzle. I told him, "Damn, I'd buy you a drink," remembering how my own godsis fixed me one when I rolled over after a break-up.

I spent the rest of the ride trying to hear the dude, cogitating my own experience with break-ups. We were nearing the Grand Station. We were talking about how the experience sucked at the moment. Then he said something interesting that I also thought about a lot.

"You know what? It's all good, I think Kharma will come back on her."

"Heh, yeahhh, I know what you mean."

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