Traveling is fun, except for the mass transit part. I thought I’d share some stories about planes, trains and automobiles around the world as well as right here at home.
Denver Light Rail: I needed to go from the airport to my brother’s house. I was exhausted. This guy came in and started listening to phone messages on speakerphone. I asked him to shut it off. He seethed at me until I got off, and then he threatened to kick my ass and called me some improper words. I offered to fight him, but I really didn’t want to because I’d eaten a fried pork chop sandwich in Iowa and hadn’t taken a dump in four days and was really afraid he’d punch me in the gut and I’d poop myself.
Eurorail: Every backpacker says the Eurorail is really great, and they’re right. Wouldn’t it be great if the U.S. had a train system that went from one place to another?
Amtrak: Getting on an Amtrak is kind of like launching a rocket into space. You need to make sure the weather is perfect, the stars are aligned, the humidity is just right and you’ve got a spare 12 hours.
Greyhound: Think about how people who watch Fox News imagine crackhouses. Add some more piss, vinegar and those gross-smelling pink urinal cakes. Riders tend to have “Who Can Be the Loudest the Longest” contests, rap to speakerphones and just weird you out. Best bet is to sit next to the terrified Amish person.
European buses: Big, cheap and comfortable. My only weirdness happened when my bus pulled into a garage in Austria and some SWAT guys appeared with a German shepherd. They pulled some dude off the bus, and we took off without any explanation. But we showed up on time, so who cares?
Planes: I think they’re all more or less the same, but that’s probably because I fly coach everywhere. Except for Ryanair (Europe’s version of Southwest Airlines), which is kind of like flying in a canoe with more uncomfortable seats.
Subways: Similar worldwide. Quick tip: If a train is crowded except one car that is empty, you probably don’t want to be in that car. Probably a poop or pee or puke situation.
NYC is usually crowded and gross. There used to be a “stand-up comedian/pick-up artist” who would get on at my stop during my morning commute. My sunrise was made a little more deplorable whenever I heard that guy’s squeaky voice.
Chicago isn’t as crowded as NYC, but it can be as gross or grosser. Plus the Ell (not the subway) is above ground, which means there’s no protection from the Windy City’s freezing-ass cold lake effect.
Tokyo’s subways are so efficient but so confusing that I’m pretty sure if people didn’t help me find where I needed to be going, I’d still be lost.
Seoul’s subways are more crowded than NYC’s or Chicago’s but cleaner. No trash on the ground or bodily fluids on the floor, windows or seats. It’s considered very rude to watch YouTube or talk loudly while in public in both Korea and Japan.
How about you guys? Any tips for riding the world’s mass transit?