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The Joys of Public Transportation

May 30 2005 12:52 PM ET (Permalink) (Comment)

Haven't really felt motivated much recently to write anything. So I'll dialogue back to where I left off.

As of today, I still don't have a car. I'm having a hard time managing other people's schedules (read: transportation to check out cars) and my own cowardice in figuring out what I want to buy within my price range (read: fears about buying a lemon). Plus, since my schedule really doesn't require much in the way of transportation, it's almost hard to justify the expense.

Using MARTA to get around the last few weeks has been an interesting adventure.

Honestly, the hardest part of the entire endeavor has been that my area doesn't have much in the way of public transportation to get to MARTA. Decades ago, my county voted to remove itself from Atlanta's public transportation efforts, and, in the years since, has made limited efforts to cover the gap.

Naturally, the flipside of that is that my part of the county is relatively affluent, and doesn't really need much in the way of public transportation. The few times I've taken the local bus, there have been fewer than ten people on board, and it's a route that only runs during rush hour.

But, barring that limited problem, it hasn't been as bad as I imagined it would be. It's a little strange sitting on a corner for fifteen minutes to wait for a bus, or to bolt immediately after the conclusion of a game to catch a bus (as to avoid having to wait another thirty minutes for the next one).

My Ultimate league generally plays in areas of town that are predominantly African-American, so it hasn't been uncommon to be the lone white guy on the train or bus. And, honestly, if you've ever met me, you'll know I'm as white as they come. But, so far, that hasn't been much of a concern, and I've run into some really pleasant folks in my travels.

The only freakout so far was one late night train ride back from the fields. Our main field is located near the Bankhead MARTA station, which isn't really the best station to be coming from late at night, as it's the only station on that line, and people won't be coming through from somewhere else.

Anyway, the first night I make the trip back, I opt to sit in the front car behind the driver. (In hindsight, I suspect that was more for the psychological benefit than for safety, as I'm not sure the driver is really going to notice or be able to do anything if I'm taking a massive beating ten feet behind him.) With most of the car empty, one guy decides to slide in to the left of me, not two inches from me. Unnerving, okay, but I play it like it's no big deal. Shortly thereafter, he decides to pull out a small pocket knife, unfolds it, and uses the tip to pick the crap from underneath his fingernails. He's not looking at me or anything, or making any overtures, but it's just damn creepy.

Fortunately, we've only got one station to go. As we approach, I get up (somewhat early) from the seat and wait near the door. Once the doors open, I play the old rule, suggested to me years ago (by who, I don't remember): head for the nearest group of African-American women. Yes, I know, it sounds kind of absurd, but it's been a great piece of advice. Safety in numbers, and they generally don't take crap from no one.

I sit down, and the guy meanders a little bit, eyeing me before heading up the elevator out of the station. I had no idea if I'd just avoided something or if it was just my paranoia getting to me, but it was definitely uncomfortable.

The main downside of taking public transportation so far is that I find when I get to the fields, my brain has almost completely shut down. The first few nights, I found myself in a complete mental lock for the first few points of the game. It's just the sheer mind-numbing banality of riding the train and having it take so long. When you're maneuvering through traffic, especially in Atlanta, your brain takes a good workout, just to avoid getting smashed into by some moron.

And while it does take a good bit longer to get where I'm going via MARTA, it's put me in a place where I might consider continuing to take it once our summer season kicks in. Getting to some of our fields is an absolute nightmare of traffic disaster. And I hate sitting in traffic. Even if it takes longer to get there via public transportation, I don't seem to mind sitting in traffic as much if I'm on a bus.

Though, if I'm going to continue doing this, I may have to invest in an old Gameboy Color on Ebay so that I can play old-school Tetris on the way down.

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