Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Jury Duty, Part 3: Public Transpo & the "Honor System"

So I know I’ve already written about the adventure of the Los Angeles subway on my way to jury duty, but I left out one very important thing: the honor system.

In every other place I’ve taken the subway or rail or whatever form of underground there is (such as the weird hybrid that is MUNI…but that’s another post to come), you purchase your ticket and then swipe it to get through the turnstile. Then, when you leave, you either have to swipe again or you just leave. There are many ways to do this, but not in LA. We have to be idiots about it.

The first day I took the metro to jury duty, I bought my ticket and then walked up to the “turnstile.” Only, there was no actual turnstile. It looked like they had put up the turnstile, but then taken out the gate and left the posts. Ticket in hand, I walked up and looked for a place to swipe. There was no place to swipe. There was a round circle on the front of one of the posts that said “TAP here” so I did. Only nothing happened. I stood there like an idiot for a good minute before I watched another passenger just walk straight through. I did the same, but felt I had missed something. I’ve never jumped a turnstile before, but somehow I felt as if that’s what I just did.

Sitting on the train, all I could think of is how dumb of a system this is! Why would I even buy a ticket if I can just walk through? I’m a fairly honest person (despite what people think) and I would do it because I believe that nothing is free and if you are supposed to pay for something you should, but at the same time, I was tempted to not buy a ticket anymore. If I can ride for free, then why wouldn’t I? Especially if other people weren’t paying. It’s not fair to me to pay for everyone else. I might believe that you should pay for things, but I don’t believe I should be paying for a bunch of strangers.

All of these thoughts were going through my head when I was buying my ticket the next day. I ended up paying the $1.25, but not without a lively debate in my head.

It’s a good thing I did, however.

When I got down to the platform and boarded the train, there was an announcement for everyone to have their tickets ready. “Sheriffs will be coming through to check for tickets.” I watched at least three people get up and walk out, only to be grabbed by sheriffs outside the train. I wanted to ask the sheriff a ton of questions when he got to me, but I refrained because he looked like he had enough work to do without me asking a bunch of questions. I watched as several people got pulled off the train and were written citations.

A quick Google search told me that the ticket can be up to $200 and you have to show up to court! Plus, the MTA loses about $5 million a year from fare evasion. There is a debate about whether or not the MTA should spend the money to put in the gates and have people swipe in order to get through. In my opinion, there is no debate. People are dishonest. Even an honest person like me (keep your sniggering to yourself please!) thought of being dishonest simply because the MTA had made it so easy. LA, come on. Why can’t you just look at systems that work and model your system after one of those? Why must you be different and na├»ve? (I did find out what TAP meant. "Transit Access Pass." Very clever MTA.)

I ended up paying every time I rode. It was not worth $200 and another wasted day in court just to save $1.25.

Although, I am a bit tempted to jump a turnstile next time I’m in NYC.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Breakin' Up is Hard to Do

Here s the post everyone has been waiting for.

Only, you’re going to be very disappointed. (Sorry Lisa)

I was watching The Real Housewives of New York reunion (don’t judge…you have guilt pleasures too.) and Bethenny was asked about peeing on a pregnancy test stick on camera. She said that certain things she has no problem with being on camera but other things she keeps private. She said that there is a line and she decides where it is. They all signed up to have their lives shared with all of America, but there are some things off limits.

Why I quit my job as the newspaper is one of my things. (Sidebar...I quit my job at the newspaper and am back at Starbucks. Just an fyi)

It’s not peeing on a stick or anything, but for some reason, I don’t want to write about it and share it on a blog. It felt a little like a breakup, and even though there were no hard feelings on either side and it’s actually a really good and exciting thing, I’m not ready to share this story. Maybe I will be eventually but I’m not right now.

I will say again that there are NO hard feelings on either side and it is totally for the best. I am actually happier now than I have been in a really, really long time. I’m also really excited for all the changes I’m opening myself up to and I am hopeful they will all work out the way I want. But if they don’t, that’s ok too. It might sound cheesy, but I’m really excited for what’s to come.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Jury Duty Part 2: There's a subway in LA??!!

While I was on jury duty, I had a ton of ideas for things to write about, but I never actually managed to. Thank goodness I wrote these ideas downs! That way, when I’m going through a notebook I had carried with me and happen upon some of my ideas, I have a post that is almost completely written for me! I’m nothing if not all about doing very little work.

One of the things that really stuck out to me was taking public transportation in Los Angeles(possibly for the first time ever…I seem to remember taking a bus with Grandma when I was a kid…maybe?). I have taken public transportation in NY and SF many times, but never in my hometown. It’s LA…we drive. Except that the drive into Downtown in rush hour traffic made me stress out so much that I would have convicted anyone just so I could get out before 3:30 and not have to come back the next day.

My friend Chad was actually the one who suggested it. He told me it was only $2.50 round trip and it would drop me off right at the courthouse. So, for the first time (possibly the last time…) I took Chad’s advice.

While the actual train was awesome(always on time, crowded on the way home but not unbearably so), I had one issue that I should have anticipated given the fact that it’s LA: parking.

“Park and Ride” stations. Sounds perfect right? The only problem is that there is not NEARLY enough parking for all the people taking the train! No actually there is, except that half the lot is for monthly parking. Which was NEVER even CLOSE to full. Rows and rows of open parking spots, all of which would be great for those of us who have to drive to the station because there is no bus anywhere near our residence. But NO. The MTA would rather leave those spots empty to early morning commuters in hope that people will pay a monthly fee.

I decided that maybe I should just buy a monthly pass. I knew the trial would take at least 14 days so, depending on how much it costs, a monthly pass might be worth it, if for no other reason than it would keep me from pulling my hair out looking for parking and then just end up parking in one of the monthly spots out of frustration and getting a $40 parking ticket. (Which I did.) But guess what? THE PARKING PASSES FOR THE NOHO STATION WERE SOLD OUT! WTF?! How can they be sold out when every single morning there are 5 rows with at least 40 spots each totally empty?! MTA, I would like an explanation, please.

In the end, the trial ended up lasting 15 days, 11 of which I took the subway. I might have been totally frustrated by the parking situation, but by the time I got to the courthouse, I was totally relaxed. I would read my book, listen to music or just people watch, which was probably the most interesting part about it. When you people watch in the car, you run the risk of crashing into the stopped car in front of you. (Which I haven’t done yet, but I feel like it might be one of those inevitabilities about living in LA, like fake boobs and spray tans.)

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Dart

It has been a long time since I updated my blog. That's what happens when you work 2 jobs and barely have enough time to do your laundry, let alone write anything interesting or worth reading. (Not that anything I write is interesting or worth reading, but I try.) But, well, I now only have one job, so hopefully there will be a whole lot more where these came from. (The "only have one job" is going to be a different post.)

Now comes the all-important question: What do I write after having been absent for so many months? Do I write about why I only have one job now? Do I write about the fun phone calls I’ve had to deal with? Do I continue my Jury Duty story that I never did continue? Nope...I feel like this post is going to have to be something easy, much like the first workout after not exercising for a long time. (Yet another post idea…) So, I’m instead going to write about something very near and dear to my heart: the Dart.

The Dart is a 1974 Dodge Dart that is kind of a family heirloom. My grandparents on my dad’s side bought it brand new in 1974. Then, my Aunt Bev drove it out to CSUN for college. Then, my grandparents drove it for many more years before giving it to my dad to update their ride to a pimped out Oldsmobile station wagon(corduroy seats anyone?). My sister then had the pleasure of driving it, and then, it came to me. I drove it almost every single day of my senior year of high school. My dad took it back when I started college and needed something to make the long drive out to Pierce. He drives it everyday to work. Except when my car has trouble and I have to us it.

We don’t have money or jewels to pass down generations, but the Dart is totally priceless.

Now, looking at it, you wouldn’t think much of it. The blue paint has faded and the white canvas top is almost completely gone. The seats are cracked so the padding is showing and the dashboard is not in the greatest shape. In order to open the trunk, you need a screwdriver and a little bit of lock-picking talent. This is all before I mention how my dad keeps every water bottle from the past year in the front seat along with his passes from work, his Thomas Guide, jumper cables, and straws. Plus, the Christmas lights in the back seat he got from General Hospital. (Do we actually need more Christmas lights? No, but the prop department was throwing them out so I must take them!)

Driving it is, well, to put it nicely, an adventure. There is a whole ritual to getting it to start and then you have to keep your foot on the accelerator to keep it from dying. When you need to brake, you have to pump the brakes three times and pray that three times was enough. The heater has to be on at all times so it won’t overheat. Also, just recently, it started popping out of gear so sometimes you have to slow down and let it pop back in.

You’re probably wondering why I would consider this POS as special. (Or if I just really have a thing for living dangerously.)

Here’s the thing: The Dart has never failed me. Sure, it’s died while I was sitting at a red light, but it always starts up. I might be sweating by the time I get to my destination, but I always get there. My right leg might get a workout pumping the brakes, but I always manage to stop. Plus, when my car (which I love very much) has some trouble, as all cars do, the Dart is there to get me where I need to go.

Even more than its reliability, the Dart has memories. I remember being a kid and driving around with my grandparents to run errands and pretending the hump on the floor of the backseat was a wall that my sister was not allowed to cross. I remember when my mom stalled it and couldn’t get it started again because she flooded the engine and then yelled at me because I was laughing pretty hard. I remember piling the whole basketball team in it to go out to lunch, even though most of my teammates were not supposed to leave campus for lunch.

The Dart is way more than a car on its last legs. It’s a part of my history and my family’s history. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

However, I will be happy when my car is fixed.