San Diego isn’t big on public transportation. In New York you generally ride the bus if you live in a neighborhood deemed not important enough for a subway line. On Long Island you ride the bus because you’re an ex-con with a suspended license. I know, because I’ve ridden it a few times. I feared that San Diego would be similar. When I got to the bus stop there was an older man with a tattoo on his face and another man who clearly spent a lot of time perfectly manicuring his fingernails at the expense of all other hygienic priorities. I began thinking about the sociological implications of a transit system that primarily serves the down trodden and the occasional low-budge tourist when the man with the manicured nails finished his cigarette and pulled out an iPhone. I had toyed with the idea of getting one for the trip but didn’t, mainly because I’m a luddite and totally cheap but also because I get a lot of satisfaction from doing things in the most difficult way possible. For example, if I had an iPhone I wouldn’t have had to spend an hour figuring out transit before leaving the house. And I might know where the fuck I was right now, and what fun would that be?
I found my way to Balboa park with the help of some very friendly people, the kind who keep talking long after they’ve answered your question. In fact everyone here is SO nice. The bus driver apologized for not reading my mind and offering a day pass when I bought a one-way ticket, at lunch the cashier cheerfully warned me that there could be up to a seven minute wait on my salad, and when you bump into people and say you’re sorry they say ‘it’s ok’ and they don’t growl it like we do in New York. The park itself was pristine. Not a single old man wasted on a bench, not even a cigarette butt. By noon I was starting to miss dirty, smelly, mean New York.
Then I rode the trolley. Apparently I need look no further than public transportation for my dose of New York. The woman next to me was picking her nose like it was an Olympic sport. Another licked the screen of her phone to clean it, like a mama cat and her digital kitten. Some guy asked to use my phone and proceeded to yell something about Jesus after I refused. Yes, I feel much more at home now.