Chronicles of the LA Metro
PSA: Everyone should try to take public transportation. Even in Los Angeles.
I started riding the metro a few weeks ago, and not to be dramatic…but it’s already changed my life. I save up on gas, avoid the horrendous LA traffic, and best of all, I don’t spend a dime. My company pays for my TAP card, and I actually earn points for gift cards and other rewards with every commute.
But these perks aren’t the main reason I love the metro. I love it because it makes me feel alive. It makes me feel connected. I don’t move through each day like a monotonous robot, hunched over the steering wheel and isolated in my car. I feel like a walking, breathing human who actually sees, hears, and takes in her surroundings. My senses are elevated, and it’s almost as if I experience the city in a whole new way.
Below are some of the experiences & observations I’ve had as I’ve navigated the LA metro these last few weeks…
My very first day I got a front row seat to live entertainment.
A talented duo consisting of a violinist and a guitarist arrive on the stop after mine and almost immediately, they start jamming out popular tunes.
Two minutes in, I recognize one of my favorite Childish Gambino songs. It’s his soulful yet eerie R&B hit,“Redbone.” The violinist closes his eyes and opens his mouth to sing. To my surprise, he has this really smooth, husky voice.
I’ve never seen two people look more comfortable in their own skin. I’m envious of them. Even though they aren’t the best musicians out there, they have so much heart. It takes guts to perform in front of a moody, morning crowd. Only Day 1, and I can already tell I’m going to enjoy this ride…
So I’ve lived in the same apartment complex since March, but I never really paid any attention to my neighborhood until now. There’s a Korean church, an elementary school, a handful of cafes and small businesses, and even the Chinese Consulate. Every day, I’ve been passing the same security guard in front of the consulate. He always wears a crisp gray uniform and a slight frown on his face. For some reason, my goal is to see him smile one of these days.
Caught the new movie Parasite after work today. I discovered there’s a metro stop right outside the Egyptian Theatre…which is PERFECT because parking in Hollywood can be a real pain. This is bit of a tangent, but Parasite was a phenomenal movie, and everyone should go watch it. The entire way home I was thinking about it on the train. I even wrote this note down in my excitement. Had I been driving, I probably wouldn’t have been able to jot down my immediate thoughts.
Reading on the subway can be hard (especially when you’re standing up), but I FINALLY finished “Becoming” by Michelle Obama which I’ve been stuck on forever. Today, I snagged a seat both on the way there AND back home, so I was able to whip out my Kindle and comfortably lean against the seat. I’m kind of excited to blaze through more novels. Maybe some podcasts too.
News update: I made the stoic security guard crack a grin!!! Well, kind of. We exchanged a smile when one of the meditating grandmas (who come out every morning for group Tai Chi) let out an absurdly loud yawn.
On my way home today, I came across Jimmy Johns. Yes, the sandwich shop. I’m not sure what possessed me to poke inside since I’ve never eaten there before, but it was a solid choice. They have these new $3 mini subs called “Little Johns” and turns out, they’re pretty good! The Little John #5 might become my go-to fast-food dinner.
Today, I got trampled on the metro. Ok, more like aggressively stepped on. But the culprit turned out to be a cute elderly lady who was actually very sweet and apologetic. We had a nice conversation following the trampling where she made me guess her age (75) and I politely told her she didn’t look a day over 60. I think I made her day, even thought my feet were screaming a little bit on the inside.
There are a lot of tourists who ride the same train I do because my building is right next to Universal Studios. This morning, I saw a very lovey-dovey young couple and a group of (French?) senior citizens who had on matching baseball caps and fanny packs. What struck me was despite the age and cultural difference between these two groups, they wore the same giddy excitement on their faces. Kind of melted my heart.
It’s been almost three weeks since I started riding the metro, and I can already see a notable difference in my mood and physical demeanor. I wake up excited to go to work, greet the sun outside, and start my day. I’ve also become more attuned with the different types of people who take public transportation, and everyone (for the most part) is so friendly and kind.
I’ve seen kids give up seats for elderly, pregnant mothers receive help from complete strangers, and people attempting to hold the door for others all the time. LA is a big city, but in moments like these, it seems a little smaller.
Today is World Mental Health Day, and I find myself thinking about the strangers I encounter. Are they on their way to work? Are they in school? Is that morning coffee part of their daily routine, or are they so tired they need it just to stay awake? Do they feel like a tiny, insignificant speck in this place, like I do?
Through riding the metro, I’ve gotten glimpses of people who have much different lives from mine, but every day we cross paths for a moment or two. I think it’s important to remember in these moments that everyone is struggling with different challenges, facing demons inside that we can’t even fathom. But there is some comfort knowing that we are not completely alone.
On this train, in this subway, we stand side by side. We’re all trudging along, trying to make it. It’s almost like a literal metaphor of the journey we call life. There are so many people out there who we’ll never exchange a word with, never share each other’s story. But for a moment or two, our eyes might meet. I know it’s not a lot, but I always try to smile back in these brief, fleeting moments…because in a world where someone commits suicide every 40 seconds, a smile can perhaps make all the difference.
I know it’s had for me.