For those of you who don’t know, Mike and I are huge fans of public transit. Mike rides the ferry to work and I ride the San Diego trolley. We like how our commutes sound like a throwback to the 1950’s and also how it feels like we’re traveling with an entourage.
My entourage is mostly homeless people. They really like to ride the trolley except on days when the police check passes. The pass-check days are quiet and lonely on the trolley, with fewer shopping carts and bang-up bicycles. It’s easy to get bored on those days.
Mike’s entourage on the ferry is more white-collar working folks, so he is like the bourgeoisie to my proletariat. Despite the divide, we find ways to live in harmony. Mike picks up more dog poop than I do, which balances the social strata of our marriage.
The trolley is always an interesting place, and I love it.
Each morning I stand at the front of the boarding platform so I can wave to the conductor as the train approaches. Since I’m traveling with an entourage, it only seems appropriate to acknowledge the chauffeur.
I like to think the conductors like me, that maybe I’m their favorite. Unfortunately, there is little way to verify this. I suppose I could ask them directly, but that would require opening the conductor door, which I think is against the law.
I prefer not to break the law.
On my way to “adult headquarters,” I sit next to strangers and imagine their stories, their histories. Everyone on the trolley is exhausted and I always wonder why. Riding the trolley exposes you at your most honest state, especially in the morning moments before you actually start trying. Some people are not trying so hard they fall asleep. This makes me an accidental creeper, the kind that watches strangers sleep.
The trolley is good for me in a lot of ways. It forces me to sit still for 25 straight minutes twice a day, which means I start and end the workday with rest. But more than that, it reminds me twice a day that my story isn’t the only one that matters.
You see, I’m extraordinarily selfish. I prefer that my husband picks up the dog poop and other people drive me to work.
I ride the trolley hoping that it will train some of the selfish out of me. I get condensed selfish-therapy when I share a seat with someone who doesn’t look or smell or act anything like me. I get more selfish-therapy when I’m lassoed into conversations I’d rather not be a part of. I resist the urge to worry about germs or communicable diseases or muggings, because on the trolley I am forced to live in harmony twice a day, every day.
Sometimes hipsters get on the trolley and evaluate my shoes with judging eyes. This is difficult, but I’m forced to live in harmony with them, too.
All of this means I go to therapy ten times a week, which may or may not be worth broadcasting.
Either way, I keep a trolley entourage for my own good. They make me better by making the world seem less about me, which might mean they are the most ineffective entourage in history.
I like it that way.