Missed it by that much


The saddest sight in the world, or in my world, at least: a Metrolink train pulling away from the Union Station platform, with yours truly having arrived no more than a minute too late to catch it. But a miss is as good as a mile.

(The train was even closer when I got there but it took me a few seconds to get my camera ready.)

These things happen. I was out and about in L.A. on Saturday, going to the record store Amoeba Music near Sunset and Vine and eating an early dinner at Go Burger. The waitress paid me a memorable compliment upon seeing a book on my table: “It’s so nice to see someone reading. You are a unicorn, my friend.” (As personal nicknames go, perhaps “Unicorn” will become the new “D-Bomb.”)

Although I finished my meal around 5:30, her remark encouraged me to hang out with my nose in my book (Sax Rohmer’s “The Bride of Fu Manchu,” which as the title implies is weighty stuff) for a half-hour or so afterward. There was no rush.

I walked back to the Hollywood and Vine subway stop. It was 6:25. My Metrolink train was at 7:10. A block away was the Fonda Theater, and I thought I’d go over and see who would be playing in the near future. After returning, I took a photo of the subway entrance and posted it on Foursquare. Oh, you fool.

When I got to the subway platform at 6:40, I’d missed the subway by five minutes. The next one came at 6:47. Uh-oh. Making the 7:10 Metrolink was looking impossible, but I rode all the way to Union Station just in case. I arrived at 7:08, the time changing to 7:09 before I got to the escalator, and by the time I made the Metrolink platform, the 7:10 was pulling away.

The perils of public transit. You’d think I’d know better, after doing this so many times, but sometimes lessons must be learned again and again.

With trains often two hours apart, missing one can be an inconvenience. The next one was at 9. But it wasn’t like I had to be anywhere, so I made the best of it, walking to the new Grand Park near City Hall and reading a while longer, then taking the subway back to Union Station shortly after 8. I boarded the train at 8:45. I wasn’t going to miss this one. (If I had, I’d have been stuck until 11:30.)

Had I actually had to be home, I could have taken the Silver Streak bus to Montclair or Pomona, although I wouldn’t have known how to get from there to my car in Claremont. Transit-savvy reader Erik Griswold supplies the answer via Twitter: the 480 bus from either location or the 187, 197 or 492 from Montclair.

Anyway, I arrived in Claremont at 9:50, and a few minutes before arriving, I finished my novel. Why? Because I am a unicorn.

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  • Glad you were able to get home, albeit later than usual. In the future, call our 800 line and we’ll help you sort out the way back (800-RIDE-INFO).

    Big thanks to Erik for tweeting you some help. Our riders are some of the most helpful people in L.A.

    [Felicia works for Foothill Transit, purveyors of the Silver Streak and other fine buses. — DA]

  • Unicorn, are we to deduce that Foursquare is a bad thing because it interferes with real life, or are we to deduce that reading is a bad thing because it interferes with real life? We have to blame SOMETHING here.

    I went to college in Portland, Oregon, which has an excellent transportation system (and I lived there before they introduced light rail). However, the metropolitan Portland area is much smaller than southern California, and benefits from a single transportation agency spanning multiple counties.

    [Let’s just blame dawdling, which is all-encompassing. And I love the ease of navigating Portland without a car. — U]

  • judi

    According to “Glee” (with which my kids are currently obsessed), a unicorn is someone who knows they are magical and isn’t afraid to show it. I believe you were given an awesome compliment by that waitress. Read on, Magic Man!

    [OK, “unicorn” is looking less random now if it’s in the “Glee” parlance. Thanks for hepping us, Judi. (We may be lowering the bar on “magical” if simply carrying a book qualifies, but I’ll take it.) — DA]

  • Doug Evans

    Kudos on the unicorn name (that’s an awesome nickname!) and kudos on a very entertaining blog post! Did you consider saving this story for your column? I want to say “It was that good!” but I don’t want your blog to get the impression that I consider it any less worthy than your column. Since I’m someone who’s secretly glad when delayed in a doctor’s or dentist’s waiting room, because it gives me that much more of a chance to read, I can see myself purposefully missing a metro train by one minute just to gain the two extra hours reading time.

    [After I wrote this post, and saw how long it was, I did think about saving it for a column, but I don’t want to hurt my blog’s feelings either. Also, I might not have had space to run it this week anyway, in which case I would have outsmarted myself. It’s occurred to me to throw together a Labor Day weekend column of blog items, and if I do, this would be one of them. The one about the heat is another contender. — DA]

  • shirley wofford

    I was on the 11:30 p.m. train last Saturday, David. I went to the CA Plaza show which ended about 9:30 p.m. The humidity down under, on the Pershing Square subway platform, was stifling.

    I wished there were a Metrolink train out at 10:00 p.m. Since there wasn’t, waiting around at Union Station was not too boring–there is always lots of material for people watching. (When we were there at that time a couple weeks ago, there were hundreds of people, with bikes, boarding the Red Line to Hollywood for a group ride–I never found out if it was for a specific purpose.)

    I finally got around to walking through Grand Park, the dressed up Los Pabladores Plaza. How about that fluorescent-pink furniture?

    If you haven’t attended any of the great, free entertainment at CA Plaza this summer, there is one weekend left. One of the bands performing this Friday, for the 8:00 p.m. show, is a side-project of “Will Dog” of Ozomatli fame (I was in the small group at CA Plaza’s little amphitheater when we “discovered” Ozomatli in 1996). If you want another great evening in LA, this Friday would be it. There will be a huge crowd.

  • Andy

    The Silver Streak is annoying in that it doesn’t stop anywhere on Towne Ave even though you see it every 10-12 mins during peak hours. I really wish it would stop at the Towne, 10 E on ramp, or the Garey Ramps. Why can’t it stop? It stops at those freeway ramps on the I-10 in Westco.

    That way one could at least walk from Towne to Claremont Metrolink station.

  • calwatch

    The night rides are probably Midnight Ridazz – midnightridazz.com – or one of their many spin-offs.

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