Taking a job in the heart of the city sometimes means alternate methods of commuting if punctuality is to be maintained. The daily commute took me an average of 60 minutes to get to work from my home; Even though Google maps GPS quoted me 28 minutes. I easily let this slide as listening to my positive upbeat music while stalling out wasn’t too big of an issue. This ease of mind faded within the first week as shitty drivers and backed up traffic made for a monotonous stop and go slow death- I had to find a different approach. Portland is one of the most public transit, cyclist and pedestrian friendly cities I’ve ever stepped foot in. The answer dawned on me- I would begin riding mass transit.

This was the best solution to the never ending sadist ritual known as the morning commute. I eagerly collected the daily fee of riding Trimet in the Portland Metro area, five dollars. 5 dollars gives an all day, all zone ticket, basically a stress-free ride to anywhere Portland. Traveling from Oregon City to downtown Portland takes a bit longer than traffic due to all of the stops. I added an average 30 minutes to my daily commute each way.  This may seem like an eternity to some on the 9-5 grind, but really being hands-free gave me availability. Suddenly my multi-job efficiency experienced an uptick- not unlike a morning worker before and after caffeine.

I am a people watching experience hound. I love to absorb the world around me in the form of observation rather than conversation. I am by no means and introvert- but people really do bug me. The five-minute friend thing became obsolete with the rise of technology, so holding a conversation with random strangers is difficult anyway with attentions redirecting to phone screens every few moments. Ah, humanity- so much is bypassed in life. Missing reality while living vicariously through YouTube videos and Facebook feeds of seemingly more interesting lives.

Riding public transit is an experience unlike any other. In Portland where people strive to “Keep it Weird” a few pointers should be given, maybe a handbook should be made. Here is a slightly humorous but almost necessary collection of tips from me to you- the unsuspecting Portland Tri-met passenger.

  1. Headphones are a must. To avoid those award and uncomfortable conversations, headphones are akin to Harry potters cloak of invisibility. When headphones are present in ears, suddenly you don’t exist. 
  2. Drugs are bad mmmkay? Yes people can tell you’re high and yes we can tell on what. 
  3. People carry weapons. Guns are the least of your worries on public transit. There are large beastly animals, swords of all persuasions and sizes, blow guns, oh and poop.
  4. When your magical headphones don’t apply, using your smartphone to play odd animal sounds and war calls generally does the trick. If all else fails, play a religious sermon, maybe in say, Russian. 
  5. There are arrows pointing to the exit at the rear yet people clamor to the front door inevitably fucking up the flow of passengers making us systematically later every stop. 
  6. The smell of Cannabis makes everyone on the bus innately smile. They all secretly love you and want to be your friend.
  7. Don’t touch those dangling handles at all costs. I’ve seen hands rub and dig in snouts crotches and asses ten directly applied to those “safety” devices. I’m sure all sorts of lovely funk live on them. Learn to balance instead. 
  8. Transit security police definitely believe they live in and govern a police state. 
  9. If your ticket expires while riding- you are still getting that citation. 
  10. That smell? I don’t even want to discuss it; we all pretend we can’t smell it. 
  11. Mass transit is a people watcher’s haven, it is a little of Wal-Mart, sprinkled with some Jerry Springer, super sized and fried, placed in a Venti cup, shaken not stirred, one shot past closing time and smoked like a blunt. 
  12. Yes that guy does have a backpack boom-box, yes that is Tech N9ne talking about screwing vampires from behind in front of your kids. 
  13. On Friday night very drunk women believe the support poles are actually stripper poles. 
  14. People always act surprised and frustrated when baby’s cry. Babies cry- it’s just what they do. Don’t worry; the babies probably hate you just as much as you do them- that may be why they are crying. Just ignore it, remember you don’t have to take them home.  
  15. Sports fanatics carry on about the game, win or loss all the way across town, it’s like ESPN recaps on repeat only more vulgar and slightly intoxicated.
  16. That woman is definitely psycho-analyzing someone very audibly on the train, and yes it is dark, inappropriate and no one wants to hear it- Please- shut up, we all want you to. When people blare the Beatles on their smartphone they are trying to save the train from your voice. 
  17. Giant bags of smelly soda and beer cans are commonplace on the bus. Don’t bitch, you don’t want litter and you don’t want to pick it up. These people don’t want litter, they are willing to pick it up and they make money for doing so. You do your cash, they do theirs, deal with it. I for one open my weed jar and smell there. Try that. 
  18. Some Tri-met drivers have road rage; some drivers go uncomfortably fast, some believe their trains are also boats.
  19. Don’t complement mustaches; she may get really, really mad. But. Watching a mustached woman angrily yank on a hipsters beard while screaming insults is actually very entertaining. 
  20. Dammit the drunken lady spilt her beer. Now we are a bar on wheels. Budweiser? Wtf!? This is basically microbrewery USA and you have that God awful shit in a cup? Be glad it spilled. 
  21. Meth really is freaky stuff. The guy screaming at the top of his lungs in tongues, barefoot in December proves this. It is now scientific observation. 
  22. Bus lines have their own demographics; you could call riding the bus cultural immersion 101. Portland really has it all. This place is epic, just don’t stare. 
  23. Morning on the bus smells like coffee, hairspray and cigarettes; afternoon smells like French fries Hollister and beer cans; evening smells like motor oil, body odor and spray paint. Night time smells like stale liquor, falafel and refried weed. 
  24. Did that guy really just fart!? Omg, smelling weed again. 
  25. We all know strangers are weird, I get it. You want the seat all to yourself. But hey asshole isn’t it nice to sit after a long day? Move over and let other people find out how nice it really is. 
  26. When you visit Tillicum crossing, there are literally 15 ways to get ran over by various moving objects of all shapes and sizes depending on which way you walk. Be observant and put down the phone. 
  27. Bicyclists have a god complex, you will get ran over, they just don’t care. 
  28. Don’t sit down in a bust stop and expect to get seen. Drivers look to the sign and curb, not the interior of the stop. It is a long wait for the next one. 
  29. People think bus drivers double as counselors. Chances are they don’t give a damn about your real life country song. They are responsible for lives let them drive. The only reason you haven’t been strangled yet? The paycheck. 
  30. Don’t sit in or near seat puddles chances are its urine. 
  31. Every dog is a “service dog” don’t ask, don’t pet, just assume all of them will kill you. Especially the little ones. 

These little tips may or may not help you preserve your innocence and/or bodily wellness. When in Portland do as the Portlanders do; this is weird inconsiderate shit very artistically. We have our own culture here. When exiting the Trimet experience on wheels, please exit to the rear. Thank you.