Portland Public Transit: Deep Discoveries


On this Spring Equinox anniversary, I shoved out of bed to act on a drowsy idea: 20180320_202422680_iOSstart gathering data for a book project—Portland Places by MAX (the Light Rail—Metropolitan Area eXpress).  First chapter: Washington Park MAX station.  During the Winter Solstice, I’d come across its reputation as the deepest subway station in the world, bar one in Russia.  Could it provide enough incentive to push me out of my comfort zone, to navigate alongside the masses?  Do I crave depth? Three months had passed. At last, in the spirit of Harriet the Spy , my 4th grade heroine,  I had decided to mingle.

Having overslept after a restless night, I had to follow Legolas in the shower.  A reversal, he was waiting for me in the car, chiding me for my tardiness. Hmm.  This is new.  Why don’t I do this more often? He might learn something.  I rode shotgun as he tried to cautiously drive fast, suddenly caring about timeliness with his finals beckoning.

I did some cautious fast driving myself on the return home. Burning daylight scolded me from a childhood brain crevasse.  The spectacular sunny morning was living up to the forecast with a high in the low 60’s.

Pupper got the short end of the stick with no park or walk. TriMet allows dogs in carriers or laps, reinforcing big dogicism, which may derail the entire book project.

I used Google Maps on the phone to time my meetup with Bus 14 at 10:15. With hardly anyone on board, I sat in the senior section.  Immediately, I got lost in observing the fascinating people boarding. I wondered at Legolas who avoids riding the bus, as I savored the parade of characters.  A white lady my age appeared behind the wheels of a stroller popping up and over the steps. Her charge surprised me, a 2-year-old Asian girl with eyes and energy on the verge of something.  They took up a lot of space and at the next stop I moved a few aisles back to get out of the way.  Next, entered a white Dad carrying his 1-year-old son who rightly gaped down at the girl as they sat across from her.  “How old are you?” mouthed the dad, though her main language turned out to  be abrupt shrieks.

Besides an occasional “thank you” from those exiting, these were the only riders talking.  Morticia Addams, caught my eye, a white heavily make-upped woman with jet black long hair, who nervously shuffled in place near the front exit. I would notice later that many afternoon commuters too, harbored unknown strategies in seat selection, moving when a seat came open, maybe their seat that a non-regular had taken unwittingly. Continue reading