Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I Just Want to Boink You

Men across town know me as "Sophie," an art student from Frederick. They think I am 23. But my real name is Katherine, and it is printed all over town, sometimes next to my picture. Until last Thursday when my friend said he saw my column and "cute lil' picture" in the campus paper it didn't occur to me that anyone would see my face and think there's that girl who goes on and on about nothing.
At some point while working retail I grew tired of strangers knowing my name. Retail guests would sling it around like we were pals. We were not close. During my last retail employment my friends and I switched name tags. One day I was "John" but I was usually "Cherita." I felt safer as Cherita; Cherita is not stalked through Target's parking lot to her car. I never did this in my Real Jobs, internships, or commitments, but there was never a reason to, either. Before these games I began to use monikers at Starbucks: there is a no-fat mocha latte for Jane, Charlotte, or Henrietta.
At the bar, where we are rarely found, my roommate's name is Sarah. She is from Northern Virginia, has a boyfriend, is an English major. At home she is 21, single but not available, from Maryland, and preparing to graduate with a degree in graphic design. She can keep track of facts about Sarah. Her background, family, and interests are never forgotten, which is key to keeping up with an alias. I vow that Next Time Sophie will have a boyfriend, an instant and guaranteed Creep Repellent, she will live in either Charles Village or Mount Vernon as I can lie about either neighborhood sufficiently, or maybe next time Sophie will be from Chicago's Lincoln Park, lives across from the zoo, where she spends her free time when she is not from Chicago Comics. It doesn't matter because I never remember the details about Sophie as I am a lousy liar. Lying to stangers in the smallest way is becoming increasingly natural on the bus.
My name rolls off other people's tongues comfortably. I never exit the situation feeling guilty; these people will never find me again.
This morning, waiting for the 8 around 10:25 a.m., Sophie met Paul, a 300 lb. late-20s something who wanted to "take [her] out." Sophie and Katherine are of that DC-based West Coast Breed who are not particularly in making friends. We are "reserved" and sometimes interpreted as rude when we are really uninterested (and occasionally shy). This is the crux of fake identities, people.
He asked after two minutes of introduction. At that point he knew Sophie's name, had assumed her destination, and had asked her several time what she "does for fun." Sophie said she studies and watches TV for fun. And then he asked her, and Sophie said no. Where was that darn bus, anyway? This is awkward.
I don't do that, Sophie said. When Paul asked what "that" was, she said Relationships. Date. That.
"I'm not lookin' for no relationship," he said, to which Katherine was repulsed. And not because I didn't know what he wanted. I knew. It was that he admitted it with an inference that he picks up girls at the bus stop all the time. Ew. Got some time to pass before the next bus comes, 10 minutes at least, might as well let this girl know I'd like to get intimate. At the next stop, I have to wait about 15 minutes, maybe a girl there would like to get intimate, too!
Paul keeps asking Sophie what she does for fun, and finally she adds that sometimes, she likes to read. She is buried in books. Sophie would like to listen to the music that's in her earbuds now, Paul, she infers, maybe you could find something else to do.
Paul doesn't, not even when the bus approached and Sophie exclaims, "THANK GOD, IT'S FINALLY HERE."
He almost sits next to Sophie on the bus too, but sits a few rows behind her. I make sure the music Sophie and I are "sharing" is especially loud. Paul engages in a heated debate with another passenger and I'm not interested in what he has to say.
Thanks, Paul! It was a displeasure to meet you.

And what does Katherine do for fun? She meets her deadlines, goes to concerts, steers clear of creeps like you, and makes abstract Polaroid portraits. Now please go away so I may board this bus in peace.
An unsourced group, company, or individual has enraged commuters in Beijing after it posted a billboard goading those without cards to buy one. The billboard says: "Squeezed in?! Go and buy a car then!"

With an attitude like that, can you blame the people of Beijing for getting a teensy upset?

Amtrak to take security measures

(I have to make this quick so I don't miss my bus.)

Amtrak will be screening carry-on luggage starting this week. Bomb sniffing dogs and random screenings will be included in the new security measure. I know Amtrak isn't as available as a local bus, but I still think it's worth mentioning, even if it's far from the affordable daily transportation.

Given that I talk about the Marc, which is kind of-more-affordable than the Amtrak ($7 from Baltimore to DC!) I tend to lump them together.

As for the measure, I'm not surprised. However, what I love about trains is how there's less fuss in taking one. I'd really hate to schedule time for screening like I do for the airport. I'm not opposed to safety, I'm just not great at making the train before it leaves the station. I always tend to catch mine just in the nic of time....

Monday, February 18, 2008


To the woman crocheting on the Light Rail:
I see you. Stop coughing like that. Ew. You think I looked up because someone behind me uttered profanity, but the truth is that my ipod is far too loud for that. It is so loud that I am flabbergasted that I can hear you hacking over my music. I'm watching you, lady, and I saw you cough all over the seat and into the air between us. Sweet, precious air, that was previously uncontaminated! I can smell your germs over here, lady.
Do you know what your germs smell like? They smell like death. They smell like achey limbs, high temperatures, days missed from class. Those germs smell like agony and intense emotional angst. If you don't mind I'd appreciate it if you keep your toxic germs to yourself during flu season, and every season.
Disgruntled Passenger
News briefs!

AMNY's done the math for MTA's rate hike, which takes effect March 2. Fragments of money are leftover on bonus cards, leaving riders feeling anxious for future inconveniences. I feel their pain: one-way fare in Baltimore is $1.60 and an extra dime is the least likely bit of change to find in my pocket.

The Baltimore Sun published a photo from a bus surveillance camera (huzzah! it was working!) from a January incident on the 8. He looks like a kid with that young face and that really bums me out.

Speaking of crime incidents...a woman suspected and charged in various stabbing incidents related to the CTA plead not guilty last week. The woman is being tried on two separate stabbing incidents: stabbing her 10-month-old, and stabbing a woman and three-year-old on the bus.

Also in B-more news, MTA intends to purchase 30 fuel efficient buses. Which is awesome because I'm the LAST PERSON left to go without riding one of the few that are owned by MTA's fleet. This will cost $26 million+ and requires the Dept. of Public Works' OK. Still, I'm going to ignore the bill so I can nod in hasty agreement. Tomorrow I will sigh. 80% of the bill will be paid by federal aid.

AND MTA is implementing new technology on its subway to alert its riders and employees of oncoming trains. Which is nice, since the Metro has always had this. Wow, I'm feeling feisty today. Please stand clear of the platform. Ding. It's blue, just like the lights in the streets you don't want to be in after dark. Zing.

Pop Matters has an interesting article about the evolution and significance of subway graffiti, and the "policing" of the artwork. Buses here get little more than seventh grade sharpie doodles, and I am in no way advocating the destruction of property, but I've always been a little disappointed by Baltimore's offering as an art form. (Especially compared to this mural in Pittsburgh, and the colorful contributions in Detroit; as a side note, I think Dutch does a great job in sharing a variety of murals.) I think my favorite place to find graffiti is on the under the passes of 83 South. The Light Rail passes several stretches of concrete between the North Avenue and MICA/U Balt. stops. For a few days a short, initialed tag was on an exit sign near the Mt. Royal bridge but it was quickly removed. I thought it was daring to climb onto the sign but it didn't take long to remove, so I guess not. (For all purposes the tag was kind of blah.)

Monday, February 11, 2008

News News News

I'm a little late delivering this news to The Perils and I hope you'll forgive me. Effective Sunday, bus routes will change. Bus lines 3, 5, 7, 10, 11, 16, 17, 20, 23, 27, 35, 36, 55, 61, 77, and the Hampden Shuttle (98) will have new timetables and/or a change in routes. The MTA website's timetables reflect the changes and most signs in the area have been changed. (As an example, the signs at York Road and Aigburth Road at Towson University now advertise lines 8 and 3, but the 55 is still driving the route and making this stop.) There are also some changes to the Light Rail.

The 3 seems to have the most changes with trains arriving every 7.5 minutes during weekday rush hours (and every fifteen minutes during the weekend and non-peak hours).
For specific information about these changes please see MTA's page detailing the bus changes.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

In the interest of journalism, here is an update on the baby-over-the-bridge story from The Baltimore Sun. A body has not been recovered but there is sufficient evidence to charge the child's father and conclude that the incident did indeed happen. Still don't know why Transit Police are involved. Maybe this crime is meant to go unsolved, stir controversy, and bumble evidence? Okay, that was mean. Oh wait, I know, let's blame teens! Fine, that was mean too.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Good morning! Ready for Monday's potentially horrifying news?
The Baltimore Sun is reporting (in an article written "by a Baltimore Sun reporter") that the MTA is investigating an incident in which a child was thrown over a bridge into the Patapsco River. Where the MTA comes into this is somewhat unclear. I'm going to run off to my anthropology class (where there are more students than seats) and we'll discuss when I'm back. Like why Baltimore Police are not involved, given that their jurisdiction is for MTA property. Maybe they own the bridge?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

My Dirty Little Secret

I have a confession.
I really want one of those MTA sweaters. I know that it's just a standard uniform-grade burgundy sweater with two patches, but I've been watching carefully and it makes everyone that wears thist standard uniform-grade sweater look great. Everyone wearing this sweater, and therefore driving my train or bus, looks crisp. He or she looks awake, serious, yet friendly.
This is a side effect from growing up with Mister Rogers and going to Catholic School (where uniform-grade was rarely flattering, except in navy blue sweaters over itchy jumpers) but I can't help but quietly want for an MTA sweater. With patches, please.
On my ride home today I began to wonder how one comes upon this item ethically. Uniforms are typically purchased and returned upon job termination, so even if I worked for MTA I'd have to return it. (I looked at the job positions anyway and Light Rail Operator wasn't open; I'm not going to clean the bus without a sweater guarantee, people.) I thought of a few other options (asking) but I'm holding out for seeing one, in my size, in a vintage clothing store.
This requires that I walk into a vintage clothing store, but since fate is already getting involved, I can't see it being totally impossible.
Really, though. That sweater? I would rock it, so hard. With oxford shirts and nice slacks. Or with jeans and chucks at the bar. I would have a guaranteed Halloween costume every year! Why are you looking at me that way? Is there something so wrong as embodying our every day heroes for Halloween? No, I think there is not.