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The Metro Transit Diaries
True Stories from the Minneapolis Metro Area
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free
(To the tune of "The Raven" by one Edgar Allan Poe, for no good reason at all.)

Once upon a Tuesday dreary, while I walked weak and weary,
I came across a woman I have seen many times before.
She was walking and a-yapping, at a friend who was a-snapping,
Angrily, because the world doesn't recognize Jesus anymore.
"Well we do our part," she said, carefully resuming her post by the store.
O'er the street, her voice did soar.

But there was no one on that street, no ears for her voice to meet.
Only the sound of my two feet, walk, walk, walking past the GAP door.
Without a thought I quickened my pace, hopefully getting to my place
Of employment before she would shout some more.
"JESUS IS LORD." she began to cry, unaware of the lack of passerby,
On this gloomy October morn.

Honestly, I can't imagine why a drab, Tuesday morning would seem like a good time to "reach people." It was just before 10:00 a.m., and there was no one on the street. The bus didn't even stop, because it wasn't carrying any passengers. Still she stood there, repeating "JESUS IS LORD" while weilding a large cross made of two sticks and some scarlet fabric.

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secrets
Hookers stand on busy street corners in some neighborhoods. In fact, so many hookers do it with such great regularity that almost everyone above the age of 13 knows what "standing on the street corner" implies. In my neighborhood, however, we have street-corner evangelists, hookin' for the Lord.

There's one matron in particular and I've seen her many times, turning the same trick. She's a short, thin, middle-aged white woman with shoulder-length hair, and a boisterous voice. She always wears the same thing: tan cardigan, white dress shirt underneath, high-waisted pants that should have died in the 80's, a black skinny belt with a silver belt buckle, and black penny loafers. I would make some tasteless joke about conservative dress, modesty, and religion, and how hot the combination is... but even I can't blaspheme that much.

She stands right in front of the GAP, which I find amusing for several reasons, and reads loudly from the Bible. There's generally a hobo, or an impoverished traveler sitting at her feet begging for spare change as she shouts over the traffic on Hennepin Avenue (which, all things considered, is a pretty remarkable feat. She goes on for hours, and how her voice holds up is a mystery to me).

She does not acknowledge your presence. You could stand directly in front of her, and stare into her face for however long you care to. She will not meet your gaze, and she will not talk to you. She simply keeps reading.

She does miss or mispronounce a single word. This woman has practiced, to the point where it feels like a choreographed routine. She reminds me of speech class... where you have your notes, just in case. You look specifically at different parts of the room/area, but never directly at someone. This is how she reads. She reads looking up and out, beyond the passerby, but she does not engage them. She gives no sign that she is even aware they have passed.

I went to church with great regularly during my childhood, attended a "Christian Day-School" until I was in second grade, and was a counselor at Church camp after I was too old to go as a camper, so I recognize some of the passages. Some of her frequent readings include any of the gospels, the story of Moses, and particularly (my personal favorite) Revelations. Ah yes, the end is nigh. There really isn't anything quite like overhearing rehearsed doomsaying whilst in transit.

Tonight's doomsaying has given me cause to write. I assume the apocalypse must be near at hand, because tonight our siren of scripture was not alone. To her right, there was another short, middle-aged white woman holding a large crucifix, crudely made out of sticks, papier-mache, and yarn. She was portly, and kept her head hung in what may have been silent prayer. Mostly, she looked cold despite the fact that she was sporting a corduroy winter jacket with fur trim.

To the left of our Trinitarian termagant, a tall, middle-aged white woman who remained silent. She simply stood there, I suppose reinforcing the notion of Holy Trinity. She looked frumpy and bored. I probably would have assumed she was homeless had she not been standing so close as to obviously frame the speaker, but she did not have any pamphlets, and she wasn't asking anyone to repent. She just stood and watched.

Normally I'd shrug this sight off, but I can't get the woman on the left out of my head. I find it strange that she is the one that weirds me out the most, seeing as her religious fanaticism is obviously less visually/aurally apparent. I want to know what made her choose to spend her Sunday night standing in the autumn chill in front of a clothing store that closed at six.

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dont panic
I was walking to Calhoun Square with Sandy on Sunday night for the open blues jam at Famous Dave's. On our way, we saw a bone-thin, scruffy, and almost toothless old man sitting at the bus stop, shaking his head back and forth. It seemed like he was humming. When we got close he looked up, and looked straight at me and said:

"Oh Lord, I know I is goin' to hell. Drank anything alcoholic by the age of twelve."

That was it. He went back to shaking his head back and forth, and we kept walking. I don't know if I should feel guilty or intrigued. I'm perched almost directly in the middle.

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rockstarrrr
I've decided that the words "Metro Transit" need not necessarily relate solely to the Minneapolis Public Transit system. After all, if - for example, I was on the move within the metro area, I would still be "in transit" regardless of whether or not I was walking, biking, or driving my car at the time. As such, I feel no compunction whatsoever about detailing any future events.

**I have been struggling, since the inheritance of my grandmother's car, to find material within the realm of previously established themes. I rarely ride the bus and/or light rail these days, but I have not wanted to abandon or dismantle this project. It pains me to acknowledge that it took me this long to discover and accept this loophole, but I am glad for it overall.

Today was the first day of the "Art Fair" that has invaded our neighborhood, and effectively made driving, walking, and - on some occasions - breathing, a near impossibility. Luckily, I worked most of the day and had no reason to really come in contact with the crowd... until I left work at 9:20.

I was walking home from Calhoun Square. All the tents had been closed up, but the streets were still blocked off. I took advantage of the situation and decided to j-walk liberally across Hennepin Avenue. I was enjoying myself thoroughly, and had almost finished crossing to the sidewalk in front of the Uptown Theatre when I saw what was, presumably, an extremely tall boy dressed head to toe in a gorilla suit. He was surrounded by a group of young males who, incidentally, were not dressed as primates.

I smiled and gave the ape-man a high five, while the random Bohemian sitting on my left started strumming his acoustic guitar and sang, "I am the ape-man. I am the ape-man. I am the walrus! Koo koo, kachoo."

I love my neighborhood.


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12th-Feb-2006 01:13 pm - Metro Transit Diaries: The Bookie
i mean uh
I have memories of riding the bus to school. I have memories of my mother/aunt/whoever standing on the sidewalk while I climb aboard. I don't really remember feeling embarrassed, but I know that had my mother climbed on the bus I probably would have died of shame.

Even though I'm 20 now, times have not changed. I found this out last weekend. It's always nice to think you've matured and then suddenly come face-to-face with your inner 13-year-old.

My family came up to visit last weekend, and they are tourists. I grew up in the country. Eleven acres of oak forest for a backyard, in a town of just under a thousand. I now live in a city and have been for a few years. They haven't been up up here before, so I was trying to think of interesting things to do with them. Go catch a play, go the ice skating rink, take a day-trip around the neighborhood, etc. As a local and their daughter, I'd like to show them parts of the city that I enjoy and frequent. They wanted, you guessed it, tourist locations. Mall of America, Ikea, ride the light rail, ad extreme amounts of nauseam.

As a hostess, I generally cater to my guests, even if it will cause me any and all manner of torment and despair. So, we got up and got on the bus to take the lightrail to MoA. It was amusing to watch my parents scramble to find enough change to make their fare, try to figure out where in the hell to put the fare, and then frantically try to find a seat as the bus lurched forward - almost launching them into the other passengers.

Mind you, the other passengers know that my family does not belong here. The locals can smell tourists a mile away. Most tourists at least try to look the part, but not my family. My brother is a striking kid. Not because he's handsome, but because he's tall, broad, and extremely strange. That actually kind of describes my mother and father too, but they've learned how to hide their quirks until you are trapped with them in private. In public, they look like your typical upper-middle class country folks. My father was wearing his camouflage sweater, camo NRA hat, and looking very out of place, indeed. My mother is the most adaptable, because she looks like a suburban mom - which she is; however, she was talking loudly about the diversity of people on the bus, and how she hasn't been in this city for 30 years, so her cover is quickly blown.

My mother has never been on a light rail. I dont know why, but she thought it would be something exciting. It's really not. It's convenient, but it's also loud and filled with crazies. My brother sat by the window, looking awkward. My mother sat across the aisle from me, proclaiming loudly that she thought it would be a mono-rail while my father dramatically over-contorted his face every time there was a slight squeak. It was entirely embarassing.

After a few minutes of torture, I hid my face in my beanie and wished desperately that I had brought my iPod, but then it got worse. A really shady guy got on the light rail at the government building, which seemed hilarious at the time simply because of the look on my parents' faces. He had a trench coat and fedora, and looked exactly like your film noir bad guy. He sat directly behind me, which is par for the course seeing as I attract crazy like Britney Spears attracts sleaze. After about 45 seconds, his phone rings and the conversation goes somethin' like this:

Sinister Man: *super squeaky voice* Yes. It's where it should be. Third floor. *click*

That was nice, suspious, and vague, I thought. 30 seconds later, he got another call.

Sinister Man: *still in a squeaky voice* Tell me something good, are our boys where they should be?
My Thoughts: Is this guy in the mob? Because that would be an awesome first impression for my parents.
Sinister Man: You're changing teams on me?
My Thoughts: Jigga what? Are they planning a gay strip party? That would be another great first impression.
Sinister Man: Well you can do what you want, and I wish you success but I really believe that they're a wild card. I'm stickin' with the original plan, I think they're a sure bet.
My Thoughts: Oh come on, guys. Fantasy football is never this serious.
Sinister Man: I dont know, I'm just gonna play it safe this time. Last game cleaned me out. I got nothin', and a few people to answer to.
My Thoughts: Oh damn. This isn't fantasy football, is it...
Sinister Man: Also, I got the heads up on next week's match, do you think you'll be wanting to do business? (pause) Well I'm about to be going into the tunnel, so I'll call you back.

I was mildly mortified. Thankfully, my parents were totally oblivious... or they're just good people who don't eavesdrop. Whatever. The point is they were too busy talking about what the Mall of America would be like, and it was an extremely awkward experience. Especially since the cute boy at the other end of the train was giving me "eyes". *ahem*


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radiohead
I know this doesn't seem possible, but at the bus stop waiting for the 6E after class I saw a woman that had the exact body type of a Who from Who-ville (from the animated version, anyway). I don't care how much you enoy Dr. Seuss, nothing will prepare you for the moment when you see those proportions on an actual human being.

She had massive feet. I'm talkin' bigger than some of the guys I know. Just ridiculously large. Something like size 14 or something bigger. Simply enormous. She was tall too. She towered over me by about a foot, and I'm five and a half feet tall.

If I wasn't so shocked, I would've been annoyed with her. Because she kept walking about a foot in front of me, and bending to the left at the waist to peer out into the street so that she could reaffirm that the bus still wasn't here. It's weird to see someone with that body type bend at the hips. It isn't bending so much, as just leaning. I'm surprised she didn't tip over.

But really, I've seen lots of tall women. I've never seen anyone shaped like a Who from Who-ville. Until today. She even had a pointy hat on with a little pom-poms on the top! First time for everything, I suppose.

I almost couldn't handle it.

-------------

Personality wise she wasn't very Who-ish, though. She sighed in irritation about once every 6.3 seconds, and even though she only had to wait about 3 minutes for the bus to come, she cut to the front of the line and actually pushed a man out of the way. Kind of a bitch, actually.


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free
Disclaimer: I'm going to be perfectly frank. I've been dreading writing this diary. It begs and pleads to be written, and there is no more avoiding it; however, I am moving forward with contempt and a formidable pout. It is a fantastic tale, and I doubt very much that it is finished. That being said, I begin the laborious process of trying to do it justice - for good or ill. In all honesty, I do think that it might be impossible to correctly recount and describe, simply because it is so bizarre and I doubt that it's eccentricities could be fully encompassed by any lexicon. Yet, it is for moments such as these that the Metro Transit Diaries exist. So here goes...

Sighting #1: A Silent Introduction

After the Pier 1 disaster, I acquired gainful employment as an office peon in a ridiculously posh corporate suite way out in the southern 'burb, Edina. I assumed that life on the transit lines was about to get pretty bland, and for the most part I was right. I generally catch the 6E at 8:40 a.m., and come back on the 6 or 6U whenever I can escape without incurring too many negative consequences, generally shortly after 5:00 p.m. Therefore, I'm basically surrounded by other business-types, going to their daily 9-5s, sipping their Starbucks, and staring in a glazed-eye groggy fashion at the morning paper. While it's not threatening, it doesn't make for very entertaining writing. There is a rather talkative old coot that won't ever leave me alone, but he's harmless. He often talks about the internet and his cats. I assume he is exceedingly lonely. Luckily enough for me, he almost exclusively takes the 8:20 6E - so I don't have to deal with him too often.

This is my work week. Same bat faces, same bat bus-line. That is, it was my work week until two weeks ago when the Pierced Pirate-Hooker got on the bus at Southdale on the ride home. Immediately when she hobbled her way onboard, my mind came to a screetching halt and refused to budge from the conclusion that I had met the modern, female version of Queequeg. Before I could resist, my brain began to call forth images and long-since forgotten passages out from its murky depths like blurry reflections; the only shattered remnants left behind by that abhorrent torture device known as Moby Dick, and it would not be distracted or dissuaded from the topic or the perceived visual association sitting directly in front of me. She had scraggly, unkempt blonde-grey hair and face full of piercings. In fact, she has almost every facial piercing known to civilized man. The total is as follows:

- Three labrets
- A couple lowbrets
- A pair of Marylin Monroes
- A pair of cheek piercings
- A septum
- Right nostril
- Left eyebrow
- Far too many piercings on her ears to even begin to count. I was shocked that they hadn't fallen off due to the weight of all the dull metal.

From the sceptum down her face was very symmetrical. The entire portrait was just confounding. I confess, I was very grateful to have been wearing my sunglasses - as they allowed me the ability to undertake a covert staring operation. It may be rude, but in the interest of science and sociology, it had to be done.

The piercings were just the beginning. Down the left side of her neck was a green blob that had once been a tattoo. Upon noticing it, I pulled my eyes back into focus and took in the whole picture. She has tattoos at random intervals on her arms and legs, most of which are indiscernible. Yet, it didn't stop there. Some of you are probably wondering where the "Pirate-Hooker" comes in. I mean, all things considered, by this point she could have been a hardcore goth in her prime, or perhaps even an extreme rocker. In the end, it all comes down to the clothes, my friends.

Her wardrobe consisted of an off-the-shoulders, black, and transparent top that was equipped with a fluffy poof just below the shoulders, and tight sleeves down to the elbow where they ruffled and belled out creating an effect that I assume could only be generated by breeding a medieval sleeve with a frilly cravat. Did I mention the entire shirt was see-through, leaving a glimpse of a very harassed looking black brassiere? Yeeaaaah.

Yet, somehow her skirt was even more shocking as it was most definitely a pleather skirt that had been slashed and ripped down to miniskirt length. It looked as though it had been hung out to dry atop a mast in a 10-force gale. Even her accessories were both pirate-ish and trashy. Around her neck hung a skull and crossbones necklace, and her fingers were adorned with large gaudy rings of varying metal and design. Her feet were gracing a pair of rhine-stoned, black thong-sandals.

I was so astounded, I could hardly notice anything else. I think what shook me the most was the fact that she was elderly. I consider myself a pretty open-minded person, and I'm not trying to say that she should not dress how she likes; although, 67-year-old-plus in a see-through shirt and tight pleather almost-miniskirt is a titch nauseating, especially when juxtaposed with the myriad of crisscrossing wrinkles on her face already threatening to devour her various metal appendages. Honestly, it's just a first for me. I was fascinated. So involved, in fact, that while I was taking all of this in (and engaging in a fierce literary battle with my memory whilst trying to remember if Herman Melville's Queequeg was tattooed and pierced or merely tattooed), I hardly noticed that only three stops after her arrival - she had already gotten off. Suddenly, I found myself staring at the seat she formerly occupied. Quickly I looked around to see her standing on the corner (go figure) and shrinking into the distance.

This woman is an enigma. Thankfully, this was not our last and only encounter. Tune in next time for another Pirate-Hooker encounter! Same bat time, same bat channel. Batten down the hatches, y'all.


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15th-Aug-2005 01:07 pm - Metro Transit Diaries: The Dude
i'llbeniceif...
It's true, summer is notorious for its romances. Everyone is getting ever bronzeder by the second, and everyone's eyes are a little bit more open. Thus, when I was riding the bus back from my last day of work at Pier 1, I was fairly well astounded when my eyelids parted to reveal that "my type" of guy had just gotten on the bus - or at least, I thought he was my type. Anyway, if you've read the previous diaries, you know how rare of an occurence this is. Yet, there is an old adage that I fear I initially overlooked. That being: Light travels faster than sound, which is why people can seem attractive until they open their mouths to speak.

Still, this shirtless bloke that looked as though he just wandered off some Hawaiian beach climbed casually onto the bus with his dark brown eyes and hair (minus the sun bleached tips), a skateboard, and a killer smile. He was accompanied by a a not-quite-so-attractive friend, and the two paid their fare and sat right across from me. I'd admit, my stomach did a little pirouette. I was content to just admire his masculine beauty, and I wasn't planning to protest if he decided to talk to me. In hindsight - which is always 20/20 - I see that I should have been more wary.

I believe he winked at me. I can't quite be sure, because that might have just been my over-active imagination, but after the reverie was confronted with reality, I made an observation. No, not all that glitters is gold; it may still be beautiful, but it can also be shallow and irritating. Initially, he and his friend were talking about 311 - which is a thoroughly amazing band.

"Dude, I saw them at summerfest in Milwaukee and it was just... Dude, it was incredible. I mean, the most intense show I've ever seen."

Didn't think anything of it. The conversation continues...

"I was so there, dude. Completely wasted, moshing around, it was awesome, dude!"

... Surely, he would stop inserting the word "Dude" into every sentence once he got into a less passionate subject, right?

"Anyway, do you know if there are any concerts going on here this weekend? I would love to see a show, dude. I think it's been like... wait... Dude! I haven't been to a show in like three months, dude!"

He paused for a moment to ponder this. My brain paused, unable to ponder anything at all. All that I could do was hope that he had reached his "Dude" quota and moved on. At this point, it became clear to me that they were definitely tourists and I found myself wishing that he would wander himself back onto whatever Hawaiian beach he had strayed from, at the expense of my eye candy. He and his friend were discussing ways to see what shows were going on this weekend; "Dude, there's gotta be a paper or something. Oh dude! We could look it up on the internet. All we'd need was a library..."

At this point, he scanned the bus for someone to press with dudical-questions about the location of the nearest library. Why people with queries never ask the bus drivers is beyond me, but it never happens.

Dude: "Hey, uh - do you live around here?"
Inner Monologue: Well, maybe he's not so irritating after all. He's pretty, anyway.
Me: "Uh, yeah. Just in Uptown."
Dude:"Awww yeah, dude! We were just there, it's pretty cool. By the lakes and shit?"
Me: "Yeah. Right on the lakes."
Dude: "Dude that would be awesome! I'd go swimming every day, windsurfing. Dude, that'd be great."
Me: "It is..."
Inner Monologue: Nope, just irritating. Get to the point at hand. Focus. Foooooocus, young Skywalker.

It appeared that any and all intelligible thoughts had somehow evaporated and escaped, I suppose, through his ears and nose. The expression on his face was that of rapture, but there was no depth. It seemed as though his brain had jumped ship, leaving his head completely and permanently vacant. In this moment, he seemed like nothing more than a very shiny - and possibly delicious - candy coating, void of the necessary chocolate filling. He was staring off into space for a good 40 seconds before his friend snapped him out of it by returning to the topic at hand.

Friend:"So, do you know where we can find a library around here?"
Dude: "OH YEAHHH dude, we need to find out if there are any shows."
Inner Monologue: Oh Christ, I need to find you a dictionary! (Not to read, because I honestly doubt that he could've... but to beat him fiercly about the head and neck with. I feel that would've adequately satisfied me.)
Me: "Yeah, right across from Uptown Station. You can't miss it."
Dude: "Oh thanks, Dude! Do you go to shows here often?"
Me: "Not really."
Dude: "Awwwww, dude how come?"
Me: "Just don't really have the money, I guess."
Dude: "That sucks, dude. I don't really either, but I go anyway."

Thankfully, by this point we are at Uptown station and I tell them that this is our collective stop, and that I wish them good luck in finding a "killer show". As I'm walking back to my apartment, I distinctly watch the two "dudes" walk right past the giant, metallic L-I-B-R-A-R-Y letters that were indicating their intended location, and off into the frenzy of their own obliviousness.



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lonelylike
I've never been one to fall for pick-up lines. Still, I gotta hand it to some of the guys on the bus. They get pretty creative. They never cease to leave me in awe, and granted most of my amusement comes from the fact that it must take an extreme amount of confidence and/or delusion to seriously believe that they'll be successful. For starters, the type of men that proposition me tend not to be young, finely chiseled images straight out of greek mythology - which is fine because that's not really my bag anyway, but at least it would be flattering. These are the cream of the crop thusfar.

The Singer:

Returning from downtown one fine evening, I was riding the 6 back to my apartment when a 56 year old - by my estimate, got on with what I can only assume was a former girlfriend. He was equipped with a pot belly, and bags under his eyes that could have hidden quarters within their dark, wrinkly depths. She was donning a hot pink overcoat, platform shoes, and an extreme amount of rouge. After listening to him ask repeatedly whether or not she was seeing a new person and her repeatedly telling him that it was none of his business, I decided this was best left alone. However, things took a turn when La Femme Ancien(t) got off the bus and her rejected Beau redirected his attention at me.

"Well, it looks like I'm in the market, would you like to be my new girlfriend?"

I tried not to gag, pulled off my decoy headphones and replied, "I'm sorry?"

"I would serenade you."

There's a new one, I thought. As I turned my head away, to my horror he actually broke into song. He began with "I Get a Kick Out of You" in a Frank-Sinatra-esque voice that took me off guard but would never be enough to make me, a spry young woman of 20, consider shacking up with a man that could very well be my grandfather. When Frank didn't land him the romance he had anticipated, he turned instead to Nat King Cole. I snuck my headphones back on and turned away as the bus driver informed him that his vocals might not be appreciated by all the riders on the bus. "Well that's fine, this is my stop anyway." was his retort, and 5 stops later he exited the bus.



The Fisherman:

8 hours of work at Pier 1 will make a bus ride home look pretty good. Still, the other riders are extremely unpredictable. When I got on the bus I figured that I was in a pretty normal bunch, and was thankful for that due to my exhaustion and lack of diversion. I was wrong. The guy a few seats back had nodded and smiled as I sat down. I assumed that he just got off of work at some kind of painting job, due to his extreme tan and faded clothes spackled with paint. After a blessed minute of silence, he extended a nonchalant valediction.

The conversation was pretty general. Isn't the weather lovely? Aren't the lakes lovely? When, without any warning whatsoever, he launched into his childhood and past. Evidently, he has lived in the area his entire life and was recently kicked out of his brother's house because he has the tendency to "party too hard" for his 36-year-old younger brother - who owns and lives above a bar. His hobbies include, partying and fishing. "Have you ever been fishing?"
I share a fishing story with him, hoping that it'll buy me enough time for him to get off the bus. It doesn't.
"Hot damn! A fisher-woman! I finally met a fisher-woman! I was beginning to think that ya'll didn't exist. Hooeee!"
"Yes, well..."
Thankfully, he dove into more stories from his past and saved the propositions for later. Thousands of walleye, trout, and bluegills have apparently met their death at his hand. I smile and nod, insert a monosyllabic answer when absolutely necessary, and pray for a bus-accident. No luck. The stories continue.
"Well ma'am, it's my stop but it was a pleasure meeting you." He extends his hand for a hand-shake. I reluctantly accept and mumble a "likewise". To my horror, he lifts my hand up in the air and bellows, "I CAUGHT A KEEPER! LOOK AT THIS ONE!" and hands me a piece of paper with his name, number, and an invitation to "go catch the big one".



The Spanish Teacher

Ironically, I seem to recieve the most propositions when en route to my boyfriend's house. Only two stops into my ride, a Mexican man carrying three plastic bags filled with unidentifiable objects gets on the bus and promptly dumps about 5 dollars into the bus, even though the fare is $1.25. "I have money to burn," he says with a wink, and his eyes rake the bus looking for the most desirable seat. His eyes fall upon me and the woman next to me and he drops his bags and unloads the following:

"God may be ugly, but some of his daughters are sooo beautiful."

The woman next to me decides to abandon ship before this goes any further and moves behind the young black girl screaming into her cell phone about "stayin' tha fuck outta her biz-ness". He is visibly wounded and it would have been pitiful had he not chosen then to speak to the hispanic gentlemen next to him about my body. I'm not irritated so much at his audacity, but at his assumption that I do not speak spanish. Therefore, I listen intently and lay in wait. When he has talked himself back up to confidence, he tries again.

"Hablas español?" he asked in my general direction.
I decided to play along, turn my head in mock confusion, and asked if he was talking to me.
"Yes, do you speak Spanish?"
"Si, un poco. Quatro años en escuelas differentes, y dos años pasados yo fui a Puerto Vallarta, Mexico."

Again, he withers a little. Obviously worried that I may have overheard his lewd remarks, which I had. However, he was not completely broken yet.

"I could give you private lessons, teach you to speak beautiful Spanish. We could start tonight, I could teach you at my apartment."
"Actually, I have plans tonight."
"Well there's always tomorrow. I was born in Mexico, spent 20 years of my life there, I could teach you everything you need to know."

Luckily, at that moment an eavesdropper leapt courageously into the conversation. I was deeply amused by his wardrobe, as he looked like a stereotypical tourist. Complete with a Hawaiian shirt, khaki shorts, balding head, camera slung around his neck, and an unforgivable pair of leather sandals, he was deeply interested in where exactly in Mexico this man had been. Out comes an enchantingly falsified tale...

Spanish Teacher: "I was born in Germany, but my parents are both Mexican and we grew up around Mexico City."
Tourist: (yes, he shouted everything) "HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO COZUMEL?"
Spanish Teacher: "Oh, yes, it's very nice."
Tourist: "WHAT ABOUT CANCUN?"
Spanish Teacher: "Yes but that is more, Americanized. Not the true Mexico."
Tourist: OH...
Spanish Teacher: "Now Puerto Vallarta, is both." *rougish wink*
Tourist: OH TELL ME ABOUT IT. I WANT TO GO THERE.
Spanish Teacher: Well I haven't been in Mexico for about 20 years...
**Mental Math = Over 40**
TOURIST: OH... WELL DO YA MISS IT?
Spanish Teacher: No, not really. I mean, here it is hard to find a job because I can only work for cash...*illegal immigrant* ...and I really need to because I just got fired off my old one but I like living up here better. I went out to Chicago but still I like here more... The lakes around here are just beautiful, you know?

I tune out. I figure that I'm home free. Every now and then I hear a blurb about WHETHER OR NOT IT'S HUMID IN PUERTO VALLARTA or traveling across all different areas of Mexico during childhood and other such difficulties. I feel pity, but I really am hoping this man has abandoned his initial offer, and that he gets off before I do. Unfortunately for moi, the tourist concludes his conversation and exits the bus... leaving an uncomfortable silence in between the Spanish Teacher staring at me, and me staring at my knees, pretending to do something important on my cell phone.

"Do you like snakes?"
I'm a bit taken aback by this one. I cough reflexively and simply say, "Pardon?" At this point, he holds out his closed fist and starts to make one of his veins slither. Now, as a girl who used to own a boa constrictor, I can handle snakes. Strange anatomical impersonations of snakes, however, are a bit of a different story. I can't contain myself...
"That's actually kind of gross."
"What about this?" He widens his eyes and starts to make his irises shake.
"That's definitely creepy."
"Well that's what snakes are, are they not?"
"No, I don't think so."
"Oh? Are you experienced with snakes?"
I keep a cool head, "I suppose you could say that."
He grins. I give him the stare of icey indifference and decide to try to freak him out.
"I used to own a 6 foot boa constrictor, and a python."
"Oh, so you like big snakes?"
"Not particularly. I said that I used to own them. There is a reason I no longer do."

At which point he melts himself off the bus, leaving his bags behind. I'd feel cruel, except I'm too busy trying to forget the creepy anatomical oddities.

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And so, I think it is safe to determine that you will not be finding your Prince Charming on the bus. No, inevitably the bachelors you find will be at least 40 years old (minus the - count 'em - one exception, see MT Diary: Dude) and are either illegally residing in the United States, unemployed and/or homeless, or harboring some extremely horrifying talent (if you're lucky - you'll catch the jackpot and they'll be equipped with all three.)


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As I'm going to be on the bus far more frequently, I've decided to start writing MT Diaries (Metro Transit Diaries) whenever my fellow transiteers inspire and/or frighten me. So, with no ado whatsoever...

Metro Transit Diaries: Do's and Don'ts

Initially, when I began using the Metro Transit system here in Minneapolis, I was very intimidated - to say the very least. Mostly, this is due to the fact that I was literally always surrounded by extreme crazy. Friends gave me the following advice:

1. Never Make Eye Contact.
2. Be "distracted/occupied". Example: Cell Phone, Headphones, Book, Newspaper, etc.
3. Sit by the driver.
4. If you're approached, out-crazy the crazy.

For some reason, however, these helptful hints never worked for me. I was still approached by a rather eclectic group of people. Therefore, after I decided to write about them for the amusement of myself and others, I devised my own strategy based on the advice I previously recieved, trial, and (of course) error. These may not work for you, and I don't encourage anyone to follow my footsteps. Still, if you decide to embark on your own journey, these may be helpful.

1. Thoroughly investigate everyone that is located around you, or enters the bus. However, keep in mind that the objective is to observe more than interact. Therefore, always keep looking for good potential, the crazier does not necessarily make the better subject. Also, punch your weight; don't bite off more than you can chew. I've seen some pretty scary stuff, from verbal abuse to physical violence. You need to be prepared.
2. Have a back-up plan. If you get in over your head, find a way to end the conversation or blend into the seat.
3. Sitting by the driver is always a good idea... if you are being harassed, they'll step in.
4. Expect to be approached if you make eye contact. Roll with it, but be wary. You can meet some very interesting people, but things can also be disturbing. So, if you think you might want to start your own transit diary/interview thang... keep your psyche in mind.
5. If avoiding a run-in with the crazy means getting off a couple stops early or later and a little more walking... do it.

Above all, this requires a lot of good judgement and common sense. So bear that in mind. Now! End boring obligatory nonsense, onto the Diaries!



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