Long Day’s Journey: A Saga

Alternatively: Why I Need a Driver’s License

The reason I never learned to drive is simple: I don’t want to die in a car crash. This might seems irrational to some, but it makes perfect sense to me. I regularly zone out and I’m often tired; these traits don’t lend themselves to operating two tons of metal at high speeds. Worse than my own ineptitude, though, is that of others. I might not drive but I do know the rules of the road and know when they’re broken, which is all the time. And it doesn’t stop at texting and driving. For instance, when driving me to school, my mom (aka someone who actually cares about my safety) would buy a plate of McDonalds eggs and pancakes, then eat as she weaved through traffic. I have never prayed with as much frequency or desperation as when in cars. Thus, no driving.

That all changed a few weeks ago when I went to Navy Pier for an America’s Cup event. I went by train and a free trolley to Navy Pier, and the experience was fairly nice. I ate Epic Burger for lunch and read Gone With The Wind while riding. I sat next to a nice man from western New York (not NYC) and we made polite conversation. The event was fun and when it was over I rushed to the trolley pick-up site; after several hours in the sun I was ready to go home, shower, and rest.

The waiting area was a small blue tent, and I sat there with a few others. Despite being shaded, I was baking. Sweat drenched my thin shirt and bugs buzzed nearby. I eyed them warily, keeping watch over my exposed skin like a guard dog. Where was the trolley? As time passed, some got tired of waiting and called Ubers to pick them up. Watching these fortunate few, with their money and phones, drive off in air-conditioned cars while I roasted alive filled me with jealousy and made my suffering all the more acute. I’d have killed for an Uber. Hell, I’d have killed for a drink. Outside drinks weren’t allowed at the event and I’d refused to pay Navy Pier prices for one, so I was stuck with my saliva as the nearest liquid. Eventually one woman saw the blue trolley coming down a street and left the tent to line up on the curb. Seeing her, a few others lined up behind her, including me. No way was I gonna end up at the back of the line because I was too lazy to stand. Besides, if she saw the trolley, it couldn’t be more than a few minutes away.

How wrong I was. Twenty minutes later and the damned trolley still hadn’t come. The line was much longer now, walling off the sidewalk and blocking pedestrians. Each time someone came by, I and a few others had to move aside so they could pass. I wished harm on each and every one of these walkers. All I wanted to do was stand still and conserve energy. Why couldn’t those jerks go around? And this damned heat! Because I was on the sidewalk, I’d stood in direct sunlight this whole time, after being in the sun for 3 hours at the event. My head spun and I longed to sit, but I couldn’t lose my spot, so I stayed standing.

There was a large black woman near me in line who tapped my arm. She had a stroller in one hand and her two children stood on either side of her. “You’re a pretty tall guy,” she said, an original sentiment. “How tall are you anyways?” “Six three.” “Wow. Can you see if the trolley’s near?” I looked. It wasn’t and I told her so. “Oh, okay. Thanks anyways.” I shouldn’t have responded at all the first time, as she tapped me every few minutes for trolley updates. However, she was far better than the family that came later.

The father caught my eye first. He was a white man, perhaps in his mid-thirties, with brown hair that had been slicked up, small teeth, a smile full of gaps, and stubble. He was dressed in a shoddy tank top and cargo shorts, and when I saw him I thought he must’ve been one of the trashiest people I’d seen all day. My judgment was confirmed when, after being near the substantial line for about a minute, he proceeded to go to the front with his wife and daughter, even having the gall to make conversation with the woman at the front of the line, as though he hadn’t cut nearly thirty people to get there. Gone With The Wind fresh in my mind, the parallel between Scarlett O’Hara’s plight during Reconstruction and my own right then was only too obvious: in both cases trashy people got ahead dishonestly while good people suffered in silence. I was dying to tell him off and certainly would have if not for his young daughter, who I felt shouldn’t be made to suffer for her father’s poor breeding.

The trolley arrived ten minutes later and what was once a line became a wave as people swarmed the entrance. As boarding began I inched forward, using my size to avoid losing ground to the vultures around me. There was a couple who kept prodding my back, and it took all my control to not turn around and smack them. We were both right by the entrance and I feared I’d never board; I was in an unfavorable position, off to the side of the door while they and the remaining masses were directly in front of it. Thankfully, the woman who’d tapped my arm earlier was also boarding, and she blocked the couple with her stroller. “Get on,” she said, and I smiled.

I’d assumed the trolley would be empty but there were already plenty of people. Because I was one of the younger ones there, I stood in the back so others could sit. When the trolley was full, I looked out a window and saw the substantial crowd that couldn’t get on. They’d have to wait another thirty minutes for the next trolley to come, and I thanked God I wasn’t them. My situation was far from ideal though. The trolley was packed and had no A/C, and many people loudly complained, as though that would make it cooler. Plus, the back of the trolley was made for handicapped passengers, so there were no seats and no bars to hold. I stood in a corner and pressed a hand against each wall to keep from tumbling around as we moved. A nearby mother who had a seat to hold onto saw me and grinned; my suffering must have amused her. It was then, while tired, sweat-drenched, sore, and agitated, that I knew I must learn to drive. I pictured myself at the mercy of the elements, public transit, and my fellow passengers for the rest of my life and suddenly dying in a car crash didn’t look so bad.

Other stuff:

  • Gotta get paperwork in order and find a driving school before I can do anything though, so hopefully that happens sooner rather than later.
  • Puberty 2 by Mitski is a must-listen. Such a good album. It’s also on Spotify if you wanna listen before you buy. More quality music: Trans Day of Revenge by G.L.O.S.S
  • The Eclipsed reading went well. The actresses were predictably awesome and I participated in the post-show discussion without fainting 🙂
  • Spent most of the day listening to various Sun Ra albums, which I can now say has been time well spent. Here’s a song from one of his earlier albums for those curious.
  • Just got a book about Yves Saint Laurent (the designer, not the brand) and I’m pretty excited to read it. Reading No Longer At Ease by Chinua Achebe right now though, so it’ll have to wait 😦
  • My little brother turned 12!
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