Written by Sheadon Ringor
8:15 a.m. My team — a photographer, a videographer and myself — arrived at the Los Angeles Union Station and realized there was no free parking — it cost us $14! Bummer.
8:30 a.m. We finally found a ticket kiosk after walking around in circles searching for it. The security guards weren’t very helpful, and everyone else was rushing toward their trains. We realized we were going to have to figure things out on our own.
8:35 a.m. While waiting to board the Metro toward Hollywood, I struck up a conversation with some police officers. With a very unwelcoming look, one of the officers began to recount a story. “I’ve seen a lady fall in the tracks during an arrival of a metro-train.” Six-year transit patrol Sheriff Roberts said, “Last week, we got a call about a crazy man that was beating up an elderly woman. Apparently he heard voices in his head to do so.” I thanked Sheriff Roberts for his time and walked away, glancing at the tracks. What a horrible way to die, I thought.
8:40 a.m. The Red Metro Rail finally arrived, and our next destination was Hollywood. “This is a very safe way of transportation. I haven’t had any bad experiences yet,” said an African-American cook who sat next me. I wanted to say, “Safe?! Did you hear about the older lady who fell onto the tracks and got crushed to death as people stood there, listening to her scream?”
8:42 a.m. I saw someone about my age with greasy, long hair, wearing black Velcro shoes, oversized white pants and a bright blue collar shirt. “I’m a singer, and this is the easiest way to get to my vocal coaches and teachers,” said 19-year-old Nein Goldstein, right before he got up and offered his chair to a woman who was standing. After giving up his seat, he just left our conversation without even as much as a “good-bye.”
8:50 a.m. An older man who appeared to be homeless saw that I was asking people questions and curiously said, “Hey, you can ask me some questions. I’ve been using this train every day since it has opened up.” Sixty-five-year-old Alan Coie continued to say that the biggest improvement to the Metro was adding bike racks. Coie, who was working on finishing his New York Times word puzzle as he waited to arrive to North Hollywood, kept his bike helmet fastened tightly to his head.
9:03 a.m. When we arrived at Hollywood, we walked up the stairs from the underground Metro onto the sidewalk of the Hollywood stars. Dancing lights from the entrance of the El Capitan movie theater caught my attention. As I glimpsed to the right, I saw the Chinese Theater, Kodak Theatre and Madame Tussauds. The Pantages Theater, Wax Museum, Guinness Book of World Records Museum and Ripley’s Believe It or Not were lined up on my left. We didn’t want to spend money, so we decided to take photos with someone famous — that is, someone dressed up as someone famous. Our choices ranged from Batman, Big-Bird, Spiderman … and Michael Jackson, who had decided to come back to life but with a slightly different skin color.
9:20 a.m. Twenty-four-year-old Whitney, who was walking on the Hollywood stars, looked like the type of girl who spends her time in tanning booths and nail salons. When I asked her if she has ever ridden the Metro, she said, “The Metro would save me a ton of money, but I’ve never ridden it.” She talked about how she would rather drive because she has a car and likes to drive. She looked like someone who probably drives a Porsche.
9:30 a.m. While still at the Hollywood Stars, I approached a skinny man waiting for the Metro bus. “Better than the New York Metro and a heck of a lot cleaner,” 55-year-old Kenneth Jeter said. “I just wish the metro ran 24 hours a day and was a bit more reliable about being on time.” I wonder if he’s actually been to New York, I thought, remembering my own Metro experience in New York City.
9:45 a.m. I got bored reading the names on the stars and of people passing out flyers to visit the “Playboy Mansion” or Michael Jackson’s “Neverland.” My team decided to travel toward a different destination. The Metro comes every 5-10 minutes, so it wasn’t a hassle to travel around the area.
9:50 a.m. I approached a couple waiting on the bench for the Metro, keeping an eye on their possession. “I’m a little worried because it’s my first time [in L.A.],” Frot Cardenas said as he waited for the Metro with his wife. “If you know your way around, you should be fine, but it’s kind of confusing and a little discouraging, considering there’s not security or phone signal down here.”
9:55 a.m. I then made my way to a cheery-looking family. I started talking to the father, who was wearing a gold watch and leather shoes. Surprisingly, he told me he took the train because it was cheaper than having to pay for gas and parking fees at Universal Studios.
10:00 a.m. I walked to the far end of the hall toward a fearless-looking woman waiting for the Metro. “I’m an exchange student from Spain, and this way of transportation is saving me a lot of money,” said 22-year-old Alba Madeos. “It can be a bit crowded, but for the most part, it’s great.” It was very difficult to understand her thick Spanish accent.
10:05 a.m. The Metro arrived, and we headed toward Universal City.
10:07 a.m. “So much more cleaner and efficient compared to the subway back at home.” Londoner Jackeline Jameson told me as the Metro departed. “I’m all about ‘going green,’ and cars aren’t ‘green.’”
10:30 a.m. We ended the day with a trip to City Walk, Universal Studios and watched performers and enjoyed a meal under $10 — my favorite part of the day. During the trip, I was struck with the varying personalities, both on and off the Metro.
If you’ve got the time and are up for a unique experience in L.A., then go get that $5 Metro pass and prepare for adventure.