Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Los Angeles Train Station

One of my favorite places in the world is the art deco/mission style train station in downtown Los Angeles.  This place still has the feel of the era of train travel and the luxury of yore.  I was taking a sleeper car to Albuquerque to see my spanking new great nephew and his parents.   AMTRAK had a special bar/lounge for sleeper car people, served a sweet snack w/juice and had a porter take our bags out for us.  Such treatment.

Union Station. Photo by Needled Mom
I had just made my connection from a bus from Bakersfield, that had taken me off the Capitol Corridor train from Emeryville. So the contrast was quite distinct.  After our bus let us off four hours before my connection I settled into the big seats of the main waiting room.  These are the biggest damn pews in this cathedral to an earlier mobility, there isn't wood enough left today to replicate these over the top, high-top, communal yet individual throne way-stations for transients.

I had time to kill so I got out my knitting.  It was November 1st and every twentieth person was in Dia de los Muertos facial paint.  Dressed rather normally but often with half of their faces as skeletons. It was an altered world of walks, strides, shuffles, bounce, texting, chatting, rolling, dragging, with a dash of morbid art thrown in.  Only in Los Angeles.  I love to people watch and this is a very easy place to do this, especially if you are knitting.

I noticed a guy in his early thirties sit across from me, he was on the phone as he walked up, and then he sat down.  His conversation went something like this:  "Yo wassup, yeah, no, hey man, no I can't make it after all, no, I need ten dollars for the trip and I'm short three.  Yeah, I know, its too bad.  No, I only need three more dollars to get to Riverside.  I guess I will have to miss the party.  I guess I will try again tomorrow, maybe I can figure out a way.  So see you soon bro, OK, bye.   He hangs up and sighs, looking at his shoes.  Picks up the phone again, " Hey Mary,  I won't be able to make it tonight.  I am in the lobby of the train station in Los Angeles.  Stupid thing but I am three bucks short... I can't get out there... I just wanted you to know... sorry, no really, I am sorry. Yeah I thought I had my ATM card but I forgot it and I don't have the ten I need.  It will have to be tomorrow, OK, bye.  

He sat back, slumped a bit,  sighed, and then looked at me.  I kept knitting.  He got up and moved off to a new mark.