Open Letter to … Oh, Who Cares

To Whom It Does Not Apparently Concern,

I know that no public transportation system is perfect. Things happen. Trains break down or even get stuck on the tracks in the “narrows” between Draper and Lehi like the southbound train did this evening. I don’t even know how that kind of a thing happens, but I’d like to understand why it did. Because seriously, if trains were running every hour southbound all day without incident, I wonder what happened. Was there a snowdrift? Could the train’s momentum not push through a snowdrift? I guess I could just jump onto a news website and find out what happened, but it’s so much more fun right now to vent.

The conductor did say that “bus bridges” would pick us up from the Draper station and drop us off at the stops farther south. I was fine with waiting at the stop, because I texted the situation to my husband, and he offered to pick me up.

I was fine waiting in the warm train, away from the frigid air, until the conductor announced (and apologized) that the train would have to go back north. He said that everyone would have to get off the train and wait for the bus bridges. I even bundled up and felt prepared to wait in the cold. Somewhere between zero and ten degrees Fahrenheit. Reilly found the address to the station online, and he texted me that he would pick me up soon.

That text came at 5:44pm. We got kicked off the train at 5:58. Draper’s not that far away from Orem, and northbound rush hour traffic isn’t as busy as southbound, so I guessed Reilly would arrive in about 20-25 minutes, which meant 6:05-6:10.

The wait went beyond that range of expectation, which means that I got that much colder for every minute that I waited past 6:10. I was perfectly cozy in my many layers before then. And then somehow my toes froze inside my insulated boots, which means the insulation worked the wrong way.

So Reilly didn’t get to the Draper Frontrunner station until 6:27, which means it took him 43 minutes from Orem. The station looks to be quite in the middle of nowhere, and I wondered if people who’ve never been to the station could easily find it. The answer is easily no.

Thing is, dear Emersonian eyeball of public transportation: Just because you name a road “Frontrunner Boulevard” doesn’t mean the Frontrunner Station is automatically easy to find. Online, the station location is 12800 S 500 W, but the street names do not follow this grid address system near the station. That extra 17 minutes in the cold really isn’t anything to whine about, but if public transit in Utah is to be efficient and comprehensive:

  • Mark Frontrunner (and bus) stations with signs at the freeway exits
  • Use signs en route (from the freeway exit) to clearly direct public transport commuters to Frontrunner stations
  • Provide better online maps/links for Frontrunner station locations
  • Update the website immediately with alerts or route changes

It could have been worse, definitely, but no one should get lost looking for a Frontrunner station, especially if so many people rely on Frontrunner to get to and from work, and especially if another situation like today happens and people don’t want to keep their friends and lovers cryogenicizing out in Siberia because uncoordinated or lacking streets signs have caused the station to David Copperfield. Poof.

Things could be worse. I could be in Florida, stuck on Blanding Boulevard or the Buckman Bridge. I could be in Manhattan, in a Zipcar on the Westside Highway on the Friday before Labor Day.

But things are better now. My feet are warm again, and I can feel my toes.

So, I guess as long as the mercury doesn’t freeze, there will always appear to be a silver lining.

Thanks for letting me vent,

May

Things I Liked About This Evening

-singing Christmas songs
-singing Christmas songs in a nursing home
-singing “Go Tell It on the Mountain” all the way through for the very first time, then twice more
-seeing those kind folks in the nursing home smile, which made me smile, and often almost made me cry
-the roving keyboard which accompanied our caroling
-that 10 of us showed up, and we sounded pretty good
-singing for at least an hour
-seeing the entire range of generations, from within the choir, as well as in each of the rooms we stopped by
-hearing stories of how music reached these people in unexplainable, beyond-comprehension ways
-getting to see Mr. Coleman again, the man who inspired this post
-talking to Mr. Coleman about the good ol’ days, when he sent Laura and me to the bathroom to practice for All-State auditions
-talking to Mr. Coleman about the good ol’ days, the sorry excuse for a bandroom, the clarinet solo, Mr. Buddy Ball
-talking to Mr. Coleman about life plans
-talking to Mr. Coleman about New York City; and Utah
-listening to Mr. Coleman talk about his family
-talking to Mr. Coleman about the difference between Middleburg Mormons and Mormons in other areas outside of Jacksonville
-feeling my heart swell when Mr. Coleman said he used the examples he saw in Middleburg Mormons for some of his sermons
-listening to Mr. Coleman, a legend in his own right, talk about still finding moments of being mentored by people he gets to work with
-meeting Mrs. Coleman and thanking her for loaning her husband to Wilkinson Jr. High some 20 years ago to change young lives for ultimate good
-seeing how undeniably in love Mr. and Mrs. Coleman are
-trying not to be uncomfortable when Mr. Coleman listed qualities about me and expressed his hopes for me and my life
-trying also not to cry in the middle of (the original) Bono’s Barbecue (on the Southside) as he did this with pure sincerity and looked upon me fondly
-hugs
-driving home with my heart having grown three sizes and feeling all warm and fuzzy

It was so wonderful seeing you again. I hope we can continue to keep in touch.