A couple nights ago myself, my friend Stedl and Soares decided to grab a few drinks after work. “After Work” for a SpaceX employee has different meanings for each person, so by the time “After Work” rolled around for Stedl, I was already at home, in the middle of some laundry.
I had suggested that we go to the Daily Pint, a dive bar that specialized in craft beer and Scotch, only about a mile up Pico Blvd from my apartment, on the route of the #7 bus. I told Stedl that I planned on taking the bus there, the assumption was that he’d come with me. Immediately he asked “Am I going to die, Bj?” I wasn’t quite sure how to respond. I tried to calm him down and assure him that a 5-minute ride on the Big Blue Bus wasn’t going to kill him.
Stedl called back a few minutes later and after hesitating, said that he decided to drive. I grilled him about his reasons for not taking the bus. “I … I can’t be bothered”, he said. Stedl drove to the bar, and as we were walking from his parking spot, about a block away from the bar, the #7 bus passed us. I threw my hands up and gave Stedl the “I told you so” expression.
But the fact is that Stedl simply shared the belief of most people in LA, that the Metro was dangerous or unreliable or not worth it … at least most of the people who could actually take public transportation, but choose not to. Even worse, I had no way of countering the argument. What could I say? Look at me, I’m still alive and well and even though it takes a little longer to get to work, public transportation hasn’t done me wrong? Put me side-by-side with Stedl and that argument goes right out the window: most people think I’m black; Stedl looks like one of the Beach Boys.
Today my faith in humanity was restored. At some point between when I got off the bus until I was walking down the train platform at the Aviation/LAX Green Line station, I lost my wallet. I didn’t know it until I heard a very distinct yell through my headphones. The more you take public transit, the more desensitized you get to people yelling at you, at people around you, or at themselves (more on this later). But when someone is really trying to call you, somehow you hear it.
I removed one earbud and turned around. An African-American man was at the other end of the platform, holding an object high into the air with an outstretched arm. I moved closer. He shouted, “Is this your wallet??” With my right hand I quickly ran my palm across the outside of my right pocket. My wallet wasn’t there. Shit. “Yeah!”, I called out. The man acknowledged that it was my wallet, then suddenly kneeled down and dropped it on the ground. Then he turned his heels and ran down the stairs, off the platform.
Perfect. I imagined finding my wallet with the $3 cash missing, or at least my credit cards, but when I picked it up and quickly looked inside everything was there. Not a single thing was missing, not even my bus pass, and I have the Rolls-Frickin-Royce of LA passes. It gets you on any bus or train in all of Los Angeles county, good for the rest of the month.
I felt awful, that my first thought went to being robbed by this guy who was not only nice enough to find my wallet, but also to chase me down and give it back. He ran away like that probably because he was trying to catch a bus. The reality of getting all your stuff stolen in a situation like this might’ve been true in the past, but maybe times have changed and we should start trusting each other more. Or just stop dropping our most personal items behind us like a trail of breadcrumbs.