something about the MTA and split ends

by Sandra

I’ve had a rough couple of days. It always comes around like this, it seems. Fresh off the high of a new job and a fat tax return and the chance of a super-exciting overseas trip this summer—I knew inevitably things would level off again, I just didn’t expect them to come crashing like they have.

Anyway, Tuesday I retained a fairly level head. Today, still Wednesday as I type this, I did not.

I’m headed to Dallas for a long-awaited vacation to see Laura and Jonathan and there were several things I wanted to get done before I left. One of these things being a haircut. I haven’t cut it since 2006, before I went to Europe…yeah, that’s a long time…So I poked around on Yelp to find an inexpensive salon and happened to find a highly rated one within walking distance. Sweet. So I called them this morning to see if they had anything available in the afternoon. They didn’t but the lady on the phone said she’d call me if anything after 5:15 opened up.

Okay, so I got off work at 4:00. That gave me over an hour to get home. I had to take the bus home today, for reasons I’ll get into in a moment, and the handy MTA website informed me that there was a 437 line commuter express that went from Grand and Olympic, in downtown, where I was—to Culver and Cardiff, a mere three blocks from my house.  Excellent, I thought, and the whole endeavor was only supposed to take 25 minutes!

So 4:00 rolls around, and I leave the office, which is on 9th and Hill.  For your reference, that is two blocks west and one block north of where the supposed bus stop was.  So I walk down, there with plenty of time to spare before the scheduled 4:13 arrival.  I stand outside the Fusion Cafe, watching all the chic FDIM students walk past and I figured at this point that I would just run by the salon, since they had yet to call, thinking that an in-person approach might be more effective.

As I’m waiting, I saw the 437 bus, with its Marina del Rey head sign legible as it glided down Grand.  I watched as it stopped at 9th and Grand (remember, that’s one block north) and I watched as it drove straight past me down Grand, past Olympic and onto parts unknown.  What!?!?  Hey, where the hell is my bus going?  I’m standing right under a sign that says 437!  Aren’t you supposed to stop!?

Crap.  I ran up to 9th and Grand and sure enough there is a sign posted for 437.  Somewhere, someone is wrong.  Maybe it’s the MTA folks, who didn’t update their information online.  Maybe it’s the MTA who hasn’t taken their signs down where there are no longer stops.  Or maybe it’s the bus driver who wasn’t paying attention to the people waiting at their appropriate bus stops.  I don’t know, but all that misinformation caused me to miss the opportunity to get my haircut.

The 437 is scheduled to come ever half-hour.  I panicked and ran the five blocks to Olympic and Main, to catch the 333 line, which I had ridden into downtown that morning.  Naturally, I’m a half-block to Main and I see that bus going past, stop and travel on.  So again I wait.  And wait, and wait.  Finally, a 33 bus comes along, which follows the exact same route as the 333 line, but has more frequent stops.  Whatever, I thought at this point, I was annoyed and just trying to get back to Culver City as soon as possible.  As the bus pulled up, I noticed there were only about three other on the bus, so I thought it might turn out to be a fast proposition after-all.

Not so.  Of course, all the people started getting onto the bus as we headed west, hordes of them in fact, and no one was getting off the bus.  So we eventually had people standing up throughout the entire aisle, not just bunched up in the front and back like normal.  By the time we got to Venice and Fairfax, things began to get chaotic.

I’m not even sure what happened, but at this particular stop there was a guy in a wheelchair that needed to be let on through the back door.  Our driver didn’t see him at first and was about to leave but was alerted to his presence by the screams of a woman and a banging on the back window.  She stopped and elbowed her way through the throng of passengers to the back door.  After securing the wheelchaired man inside the bus, there was some sort of altercation between he and another man, who seemed to be acting out of chemical enhancement, at which point the drugged up dude got off the bus, but not before he let out a stream of obscenities that could fill the air blue.

Finally back on the road it was after 5:00.  Had the commuter expressed stopped at my stop, I would have already been in my neighborhood.  As it was, by the time I got off the bus and into the salon it was after 5:30.  The icing on the cake of course was that the stylist I spoke to said that if I’d managed to get there by 5:00, she could have seen me.  WHA!!  Instead some yuppie with shaggy hair was getting his locks chopped.  Asshole.

So thanks a lot MTA!  I made an appointment for next week after I get back.  But I really had my heart set on getting that haircut today.  Dammit!

And speaking of having my heart set on things, remember that fat tax return I keep talking about?  Well, I had my heart set on buying a new camera with it, a Canon 5D, the latest of their SLR models.  I was going to take that camera with me when and if I go to this overseas country later this year, but now it looks as if the camera has to be put on hold ’cause that refund money now has to fund a rebuilt transmission in my car.  $1300 dollars worth of rebuilt transmission, to be precise.

After noticing something funky happening on Sunday, I drove over to my mechanic Heedo at Hana Automotive (the BEST mechanic in ALL of Los Angeles) and described the problem and had him drive it around the block.  He’s been harping on me to get the timing belt replaced for several months now, so I figured the problem had something to do with that.  However, when he pulled back into the garage, he said it was probably something having to do with the transmission.  He said they’d flush the fluids and see if that would solve anything.  About five minutes later, he waved me over and invited me to take a look underneath my car to see the cause of the problem.  “See this CV joint,”  he said, wiggling a piece of metal as if it were like a loose tooth.  “That’s not supposed to wiggle around like that, it’s supposed to stay in place.”  Uh-oh.  He explained that the CV joint had somehow cracked and was leaking oil and that it would need to be replaced.  Oh yeah, and that he couldn’t perform such a task because the car is new enough (a 2000 model) that the entire transmission has to be taken out and they just don’t have the expertise to do it at Hana.

So he referred me to a guy in Hollywood named Glen Kim, or Mr. Transmission on Santa Monica and Cahuenga.  Heedo’s estimate was $1300 and once I got it to Mr. Transmission, Glen said the same thing.  Because the car is just over 100,000 miles, if they were to put the transmission back in as is, it would only last another 20,000 miles or so before crapping out totally.  So they’d have to rebuild the transmission totally, with a 12 month warranty.  I sighed and handed over the keys, knowing somehow, for discouraging as it was, that it was the right thing to do.

Because of that, I didn’t feel particularly downtrodden yesterday.  I realized that funnily, everything had worked out—that I had worn socks with a pair of shoes that tended to chaff without them; I took a jacket with me that morning and I had managed to eat in the five hours I was at the office.  Had I not done those things, getting home on Tuesday would have been hellish—I would have been freezing and hungry with bloody feet, yet I just arrived home tired, even after a two-hour plus journey by bus and on foot.  I think what disturbs me the most however, is now that I’m not getting that camera, that by extension this trip that I was considering will now be a no-go.  For whatever reason the two are linked in my mind and that last couple of days have been a really bad omen for me.  Not because I want the camera so much, but that I want to go on this trip (I can’t talk about details here).

Anyway, today I snapped.  Today I considered very seriously caving in on my alcohol fast and drinking myself silly, to spite God.  Sometimes I don’t understand how he works and I want to cry and demand that he bless me through all the hardship, or because of it.  But then I start to feel like I’m throwing a tantrum.  Sigh.  I’m happy to be leaving town for a couple of days.  That’s all I’m gonna say.