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Ali Davis

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Los Angeles still doesn't quite have the whole public transportation thing down. [Apr. 27th, 2007|10:55 pm]
Ali Davis
I'm freelancing in Pasadena this week, and I've been going in by train... except on Monday when I had an audition and Tuesday when I had a rehearsal and Wednesday when I had to get to a friend's movie premiere after work.

But Thursday and Friday, by God I was responsible about my carbon footprint. And tonight, I paid for it.

I left work late, about 6:30, and started the Gold Line trek into Union Station. I really like riding the Gold Line. It's above-ground and the scenery is interesting. Sometimes because it's pretty, sometimes because it's so very L.A., and sometimes because I just can't stop thinking about who decided that cementing the entire riverbed was a good idea, and what those poor ducks think.

It's a leisurely ride, but I don't mind. It's soothing. And, in the mornings, the Gold Line offers one of L.A.'s best secret treats: If you time it just right, you get the best engineer of all time. (Do you call the monorail guys engineers? Well, I'm going to.)

Back when I was working in Pasadena every day, I had it down to a science and hit his train nearly every morning. If you paid attention, you could kind of tell that his train was different even while it was sitting in the station before he arrived - the people sitting on it tended to be relaxed and calm. And then he'd arrived, Grinning, accented with turquoise, and magnificently ponytailed. We'd all sat a little straighter and start to smile, if we weren't already. "Good morning!" He'd say, and we'd all say "Good morning!" back in near-unison, just like in church. He'd walk down the aisle, smiling if he caught your eye, and eventually pop into his little booth.

Then he'd get on the intercom and say hello - not too loudly because it was early - and announce that he'd be turning off the prerecorded voice that tells you the stops, but not to worry, because he'd be announcing them. And then he encouraged us to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

And you know what? He meant it. He truly believed that every commuter train ride could really be a good experience. And with him at the helm, it was. He was a gentle guide into the morning, and we loved him. He had something short and fun to say about every stop, but always quietly, in deference to our dozing. He'd call the tunnel before the Memorial Park station the Magic Tunnel sometimes - mostly kidding, but not entirely.

One Friday shortly before I left work to go on the ship was the best of all. I gave him my usual little wave and he popped his little window open. "Hi," he said, "What's your name?" "Ali," I said, grinning like a mainiac. "Hello, Ali. I'm Running Wolf."

Awesome.

And then it got better. I left the office for a doctor's appointment, and on my way back I exited my train just as Running Wolf's was pulling up. I waved, and then turned to go. And then, as his train pulled out, I heard the intercom: "Have a good weekend, Aliiiiiiiii!"

Awesome doesn't cover it. It was Magic Tunnel.

Tonight, though, was not Magic Tunnel.

The Gold Line part went fine, actually, and then a good chunk of the Red Line. And then, at 7th and Metro, we hit a small delay. Which turned into a long delay. Finally the engineer announced that we were not being allowed to continue on to the Westlake/Macarthur Park stop yet. And that we should wait. And that in the meantime, he needed to walk through the train and look for unattended packages. Sorry, WHAT?

Eventually, oh, 'round about 8:00, he announced that the train wasn't going anywhere, and we'd have to get off and take a bus.

OK. So we all, with reasonable good humor because after all it's some sort of "suspicious package" scare, got off the train and went upstairs and looked at the map and figured out which the hell buses went to where we needed to be.

Now me, if I were the Metro employee who made the call to throw people off both the North Hollywood and Wilshire/Western trains, I might think for just a second, "Say... How will people get home now?"

And then I like to think I might make a phone call or two to see if we could get any buses on the case. Especially since I had JUST HAD SOMEONE ANNOUNCE THAT EVERYONE SHOULD TRANSFER TO A BUS.

But I am not a Metro employee, and we do not think alike. We waited. The bus stop filled and filled. And two buses came by. The first one, crammed full, zoomed by us without stopping. The driver jerked a thumb at the bus behind him, which did. But was not going down Wilshire Boulevard to the train stop we needed. I waited for half an hour, watching the bus stop fill and fill and trying to think of some comforting thing to say to the hugely pregnant woman who was trying valiantly to deal with two children under five as they got hungrier and fussier. I didn't end up saying anything because all I could think of was "At least you're not on fire."

After I'd been waiting for half an hour, I called a taxi. When it finally pulled up, two other guys lunged for it. "I CALLED HIM!" I said, waving my cell phone and doing a little lunging myself. But the other guys looked so tired and so sad that I offered to share.

And off we drove, leaving behind all the people who didn't have the cell phones or the cash for a taxi. I wonder how long they waited.

When we drove through MacArthur Park, it was full of police cars and fire trucks. It hasn't hit the news yet, so I still have no idea what happened, exactly.

I'm trying very hard not to make a joke about someone leaving the cake out in the rain, but it's not working.

In other news, I had another audition this week, a tad more upscale. I felt good about it - especially since for the very first time, the casting director recognized me from Baby Wants Candy. Pretty cool. I really thought I'd get a call, but I didn't. And that's what happens sometimes. Most of the time, actually, for most actors. It's a weird trick - learning to get happy and excited about the audition before and during, and then just shrug it off afterwards. Most of the time the thing I'm going out for is so strange that I don't get nervous beforehand or bummed out afterwards, so it's not that hard. I could be a little bummed about this one. But it's not too bad. And there's some filming this weekend and shows next week, so, as always, it's on to the next thing.

And I'll try to get some writing in in the meantime.
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Comments:
From: (Anonymous)
2007-05-01 11:36 pm (UTC)
were those clerk stories true?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: alidavis
2007-05-03 05:29 am (UTC)
Yes.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2007-07-28 09:08 am (UTC)
I read some of your porn clerk stories from a link on Digg.. then got linked here.. very nice writing.. I liked your train story, with the engineer named Running Wolf.. and your line "at least your not on fire." Keep it up, and write a novel! I can tell any book of yours would be a delight to read.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: number6fumbled
2007-09-08 02:04 am (UTC)
I'm sure you get really tired of answering questions about your old journal, especially since it has been almost 5 year since you finished writing it. And your new writing is really good too. So I have to apologize that I have to be just another guy to leave you a note about your old journal. However, being an adult video rental store clerk myself, I found a lot of both humor and inspiration in your old journal. I remembered reading it once long ago, but it took me FOREVER to find it again. I'm glad that it is still available. Anyway, you should really write a novel or something. You have a wonderfully dry wit, a fresh outlook on life, and a great sense of comedic timing. Anyway, keep up the good work!
(Reply) (Thread)