I’m currently rolling along, sitting in my favorite sideways seat on the Blue Line. As I write this very sentence, we’re pulling out of the Hillsboro Airport stop. I have long thought that writing a TriMet Diaries post while actually ON TriMet seemed only fair. Let’s do it.
To facilitate the creative process, I’m choosing the time-tested Q and A format. Lucky you.
Q: Is it true that the question and answer format is nothing but a lazy device used by amateur writers without the skills to do anything that takes half a brain?
Q: Tell me what you see out the window right now.
A: I’m looking to the south. We just cruised through a little patch of farmland. Appropriately enough, we just pulled into Hawthorn Farm station. Looking out the window out here is more fun than it is when you get closer to downtown… some trees and gently rolling farmland, some houses, some more trees. The trick is to look out the window without someone thinking you’re staring at them. Alternately, the trick to staring at someone is to look as though you are gazing out the window. TriMet is full of little balances like that. I’m pretty sure that’s what their logo stands for.
Q: Did a 15-year-old girl in an inappropriate shirt and a hickey-covered neck just get on the train with her friend and start talking incessantly on the phone like a mildly brain-damaged magpie?
A: Yes, stop that, you’re starting to creep me out.
Q: You’re about to pull into Quatama. Do you know what that word means?
A: Yes. Quatama is an Irish word meaning “abundant broken ticket machines.” Alternately, Quatama is the Aztec god of sore butts.
Q: You seemed all fired up about riding transit a while ago, and now you seem a little tired. What gives?
A: During our epic winter commuting months, there are approximately three hours of sunlight. Total. For the entire winter. Spread out over three months. Couple that with being 53 years old, having a lifelong chronic pain issue caused by drinking too much Mr. Boston’s Blackberry Brandy as a young person (not really, but that seems like something worth blaming) and you’ve got a cranky commuter. I still try to smile at everyone, even if comes across like that grimace that chimps give you when they’re cleaning their genitalia. Just smile back. Daylight Saving Time is soon. I’ll be okay.
Q: Do you ever talk to anyone on the train?
A: Yes! Did you not read Regina’s Tale? I will talk to folks, but the problem is that I get on the train in the morning at 6:14 AM, and most of the 388 annual murders on the Blue Line occur when someone asks an innocent question of someone who has yet to finish their first gallon of coffee. Or, their first blast of crack, depending upon whether you’re heading east or west out of Gateway. If you see me, chat me up. I’m easy to recognize. I’m the guy who is affecting the mildly satisfying look of a chimp who has just successfully groomed his genitals.
Q: Where are you now?
A: Beaverton Creek. The hickey carrier has been replaced by a dude talking loudly about “Linsanity,” which disqualifies him as someone that I’d want to talk to. Hey, did you know that Beaverton Creek is actually the source of the Mississippi River? Wild, but true.
Q: How close did you come to running in front of that incoming train at Hatfield station that was going to make it so you might not catch the Blue Line that looked like it was going to pull out unless you ran in front of the train?
A: Wow, you suck as a question writer. Almost makes me feel like I know what I’m doing. The answer is that I was not close at all. I could have made it, of course, but what does that do to the train operator? Some gray-haired guy shooting out in front of his train? Those operators work HARD, man, and they have to concentrate on about a thousand things when they pull into a station. The last thing they need is my aging ass running across their field of vision like a ‘68 Pontiac with a seized cylinder and mismatched tires. I have way too much respect for the operators to do that to them. You don’t do that, do you?
Q: Have you met any operators that would be cool enough to let you ride along in the cab under the guise of “journalism?”
A: No. But, hey, if anyone knows anyone…
Q: Is that it?
A: That’s it. Thanks for asking all the questions and being so devilishly handsome. Let’s do this again sometime.