Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Slummin' It... Free MAX Day

Train in downtown Portland Pioneer Courthouse Square
What a train in Portland may look like.
Fuzzy legs, Don Johnson stubble, Andy Rooney eyebrows and shorts decorated with Secret Aardvark splatter art: my costume for an incognito trip on the rails in Portland. Unfortunately, I was still recognized so I was allowed to board MAX without even having to pay on Monday, August 18. Being famous has its perks, so you have to take the good with the bad, I suppose. Getting free stuff is just a part of fame to which I've had to adjust.

I hadn't been on the train since April. It took me a long time to get over the trauma of witnessing the strange passenger next to me vomit all over himself. I honestly never thought I would recover but lately I've been working on pushing past my fears to attain high-reaching goals. As of late, I've been longing to return to simpler times, to experience again for even one brief moment what my life was like before my sudden rise to fame. Back when I was attending Portland State, I rode MAX every single day, spending my time on board doing homework, reading, attempting to breathe solely through my mouth, listening to my Discman, and only occasionally being robbed.

Surprisingly, nothing much has changed on the train itself, except this time I was not approached by a man wearing tiny 1970s gym shorts with his male parts falling out of one of the legs. Not even once! There are things you're not sure you're going to miss but shucks... I'm getting kinda misty.

The best selfie. Ever.
I boarded at my regular stop near my home and nothing eventful really happened until we reached 11th Avenue/Lloyd Center. A lady boarded and sat in the seat next to me, her overwhelming perfume enveloping her and anyone around her in a cloud not unlike that of Pigpen. I forgot to use any of my own fancy smell juice before I left the house so I was quite fortunate she was there to share hers with me. She kept trying to read what I was writing on my notepad as I was sitting next to her so I'm confused as to why she moved seats two stops later. I would think she would be flattered by my generous depiction.

The meth people got on at Old Town and sat 1/2 the car apart so they could just hear each other as they shouted. I could slightly hear them as well. They got off at 3rd and Morrison with all the fellows with their shirts tucked in yet unbuttoned all the way to their waists.

I exited the train at Pioneer Place so I could start a walk around town, taking photographs for blog posts in the future. I ended up at Pioneer Courthouse Square, Galleria, the theaters on Broadway, the Park Blocks and Waterfront Park. After this exhausting adventure I boarded MAX at Skidmore Fountain to go home. Apparently, so did the entire population of Multnomah County. It was packed. I couldn't find a seat so I made a woman take her baby out of the stroller so I could lounge. It was a perfect vantage point for the most epic throwdown I have ever witnessed on public transit.

The scene: two people taking up four seats in the priority seating area; the other two seats contained their bags. Of those two, one was a gender transitioning person with really cool hair. This person was the one involved in the ruckus. The other participant in the bout of the century was a lady in a wheelchair directly across the car from the other two. The train was filled to the point people were going to start squishing out the windows like in a telephone booth challenge. The dialog was as follows as best as I can remember, slightly paraphrased:

Lady in Wheelchair (LW): Hey, can you let some people sit in those seats where you have your bags?
Cool Hair Person (CHP): No.
LW: Well, there's a lot of...
CHP: My bag is heavy. (Clearly annoyed) If you would like to hold my bag, you go ahead.
LW: Well, I just think you could hold your bags and let some of these people sit.
CHP: No, actually I can't move my bag because if I let someone sit next to me, it's going to aggravate my anxiety disorder and give me a panic attack. (Aggressive voice) Do you want to give me a panic attack?
LW: On such a crowded train you...
LW shakes her head and looks away as everyone on the train rolls their eyes.

Personally, as someone that has experienced a great number of panic attacks over the last decade, I had no idea that having someone sit next to you could cause one, while the fact the rest of the train is fully packed, with people standing right next to you, blocking the exits and bumping against your legs, wouldn't. I guess my social anxiety was different. But, I'm so happy to know now that the next time I want to excuse the rude behavior of myself and my friend, all I need to do is cite my anxiety issues and it gives me a free pass. As if I needed any more reasons to be special. It was a wonderful day of learning on the Portland mass transit. I was so blessed.


  1. Do you really think it's wise to wish for the good ol' days of 1970s gym shorts and fiddly bits hanging out?

  2. I dunno if it's directly wishing for it or just feeling out of sorts because I was so used to seeing it. Felt strange it didn't happen for once. I was shocked.