Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ending Homeless through Creative Collaboration

Here is my plug to promote ending homelessness and support a firm that's doing great things. It's an important topic that I have not addressed in any of my work or studies, but I am glad there are people out there that do. LeSar Development Consultants in San Diego organized and set up this collaborative process to bring together multiple agencies and groups for collective action. Pretty amazing stuff.

The Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego - Blitz Week from Campaign to End SD Homelessness on Vimeo.
For more info, visit:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Tales From the Bus, Vol. 1

I take public transit in Los Angeles, which basically means I take the bus. Recently, my schedule is such that I need to get from campus and across town midday to my internship in Downtown LA (DTLA). The most direct route is via the Metro 720. It seems that nearly every time I'm on that bus, I am accompanied by a cast of characters. Here are my stories interacting with them.

Wednesday, January 9, 2012, 1:12 p.m. PST
I had to take my bike on the bus today because there were some errands I needed to run after work, and doing so on a bike would be the fastest, cheapest, and most convenient way to do so. Given recent rumors that bikes were being off the front of Metro buses, I made sure to stay towards the front of the bus. Now, the 720 is an articulated bus, so it's big, and there's a lot of people (some of the highest bus ridership in the system), so it was a challenge to remain near the front.

The challenge to stay near the front of the bus became greater after two handicapped passengers came on. All the front seats for the elderly were turned up to accommodate the two passengers, and the displaced passengers had to start moving back. As one old lady moved back (she was struggling to maintain balance on the bus), I asked her if she would like my seat. Grateful, she nodded and began to make her way to the seat. But as soon as I got up, this terrible man swept in and sat in the open seat! 

"Excuse me!" I yelled, "this seat is for this lady."
"No it ain't! This MY SEAT! This MY SEAT!!"
"Are you kidding me?"
"I am one hundred percent for real! So F*** you! This is MY SEAT!"

What really upset me was that nobody did anything. I mean, here I am in a packed bus, trying to defend the seat of a little old lady, and while I saw sympathetic eyes, there was no action. Luckily, the evil seat-taker man got off a few stops later and the little old lady was able to sit down. As the man passed me to exit, I noticed he had a dead cockroach stuck on his coat.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013, 1:21 p.m. PST
There is a lady playing a game on her smart phone. It buzzes and screams every time she gets a new point or achieves a new level or picks her nose. It's annoying. Not just regular annoying, but want to rip our your ears, throw yourself out the window, or shake people violently annoying. Finally, I lean over the isle and ask, "Excuse me, are you playing a game on your phone?"
Gamer: Yes? Yes, it's a game.
Me: I was wondering if you might be able to turn down the volume just a little.
Gamer: WHY?!
Me: Well, frankly it's very loud and it's also getting pretty annoying to listen to.
Gamer: No.
Me: No, you're not going to turn it down?
Gamer: No, I'm not going to do anything. It's my game and I can play it as loud as I want.
Me: [shocked face and pause] Are you serious?!
Gamer: [looks at me and rolls her eyes]
Me: You are a straight-up !@$%#$@!

Probably could have left the name calling out at the end, considering it was also national No Name Calling Week.  I hope she lost her game. Harumph.

Hm.. there appears to be a pattern here. Well, as long as I take the bus and am in close proximity with strangers, more tales of me yelling at people on the bus are sure to come!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

"I'll fly away...."

It's a new year and I am again reminded of how public transit and space can bring complete strangers in contact. I was riding the 'L' Brown Line home after dinner out this evening, when a young man got on and sat next to me. This was odd, considering the car was mostly empty with plenty of unoccupied seats throughout.

He looked over at me, tears in his eyes, and said, "Oh, I don't mean to be weird. I'm not hitting on you, I mean, I'm gay as hell, but I just...My dad died today."

I put away my iphone, and gave him my attention. He was on his way to a concert where he was singing and heard the news before he left the house. He went on about how it would be most hard on his mom, as his parents had been married for 32 years. He choked back tears and burst into song. The lyrics sang about flying away and finding hope. It was beautiful.

I had to get off at my stop soon, and before I left, I took his hands into mine and just said to hang on and sing tonight for his dad. That one day it will hurt less and a little less after that. He thanked me with a final squeeze of my hand.

I never got his name, or told him mine. I hope he's doing okay and that me just being there to listen helped his pain, even if only a little. I hope he sang his heart out.