Thursday, March 11, 2010

Waiting for the MAX, a parable.

This blog is brought to you by Karyn, Shannon, Annie, letter T, and the number 7.

Public transportation is hard.

You have to do a lot of things right. You have to get up on time. You have to manage to leave your house in one piece with everything you need, including your wallet. You have to arrive at the station with enough time to buy a ticket. You have know which direction you want to go and which train will take you there.

But even doing all these things doesn't guarantee you success, a lot of things can go wrong.

Sometimes, you wait and wait and wait and the MAX just doesn't show up. There's no announcement, no explanation, just that's it. The clock on the screen keeps changing and no train is in sight. This annoys you because you believed that if you did your part, showed up on time with ticket in hand the promised MAX would be there. The MAX is full of lies. You feel slighted and cheated and a little bit silly. You wonder if everyone else that is waiting knows something that you don't. You watch other people return to their cars or decide to walk and wonder if you should bail, too. But still you wait, confident that if you should leave, the MAX will arrive at the very moment you're too far away to run back to it.

Sometimes, the MAX shows up right on time. You, satisfied you, you board happily. You score a great seat. You pulled out the book you remembered to bring and you prepare yourself for the journey. Then, nothing happens. You're on the MAX but the MAX ain't movin' and you wait.

Sometimes, the MAX shows up earlier than you thought. You are not ready. The ticket machine won't print and you watch the train take off without you, maybe you wave.

Sometimes, you're halfway through your MAX trip and you realize it's not making the same stops it usually does. Something is terribly wrong. You blink twice and suddenly you're in Gresham, "what? how the heck did we get here?". Now you have to get off the MAX, turn around and start the whole process over in the other direction.

But sometimes, only sometimes, your train pulls in just when you're ready for it. You get a seat all to yourself. You don't even bother to open your book because you've hit the bridge just as the sun is coming up. Sometimes public transportation is reliable and easy and trustworthy and good.

So....which MAX are you on?

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