My job is only sixteen miles away from where I live but it takes me a bus, a train then another bus to get there and the same to get back, two hours, one and a half if I’m lucky, three hours if it’s Saturday or Sunday and I miss one of the buses. I have been riding public transit for many years and I have come to realize that a lot people that drive look down on or think less of people that do not own a car. It’s strange and sad how people can do that, judge other human beings based on what they own. It’s bad enough we are all at one point or another judged by our appearance. I’ve owned cars and yes, it was convenient being able to take myself where ever I needed or wanted to go but at the same time owning a car was headache. I had to sell my last car for almost nothing because it needed an engine and the cost of replacing it was too close to what the car was worth and what was paid for it.
Aside from the extra time it takes from my day to get to my job and back I don’t mind riding public transit. I’m reminded that life is always harder for someone else and of course that others are better off. Some people drive to Union Station or other Metro train stations park their car and ride into downtown Los Angeles. Either way it’s humbling. For those who think less of metro goers – take a trip one day. Go far, not just down the street for a few blocks. Travel into different neighborhoods, take a trip to Santa Monica, The Hollywood Walk of Fame or to Universal City Walk – Universal Studios, downtown Long Beach, so many places are now accessible using public transit. Routes travel through good and bad neighborhoods and by bad I mean less fortunate. Being behind the wheel of a vehicle regardless of make and model just means you were able to pay for it or that you made it a priority to pay for it.
Be warned that traveling to and through certain cities can be dangerous. A co-worker, father of a two year old, age 22 at the time, was mugged at knife point early morning on his way to work. Three guys, one grabbed him in a choke hold with a knife to his throat while the other two emptied his pockets and took his backpack.
A few years back while I waited for the final bus around 11 p.m. in front of the church across the street from Olvera Street a nicely dressed grey haired man asked me if I wanted to buy a revolver, “40 bucks and I got the bullets” he said to me. I refused never saw him again. At that same spot, homeless people with tents line the street at night a few yards away from the bus stop. Maybe a week after I could have owned a pistol I witnessed a homeless guy being beaten by another: punched and then kicked while on the ground. The guy on the ground saying “sorry, sorry man” the whole time. Cops showed up, no sirens, got out of their cars, walked over, then as paramedics showed up, no sirens, tended to the injured and left, then the cops left. That was the last time I waited at that stop.
So, if you ride public transit because you have to, don’t be ashamed. And, if you own a nice car or a clunker remember some people choose to travel via public transit and others have no other choice. At the end we’re all the same, flesh and bones.