Tag Archives: Cross Section

People on the Max – The Young Punkster

The Max is a lite rail public transportation system in Portland, OR. and like any type of mass transportation a very interesting cross section of people ride it for various reasons. Some are commuters going to and from work, others are visiting the downtown area to see a show or go to dinner, others use it to meet up with their buds and run around, while others use it as a way to get out of the cold of night or heat of day.

 

I however, am a tourist using it to visit my daughter who attends college in downtown Portland. And as I do whenever I go anywhere, I observe the people around me and wonder what they are thinking, wonder what makes them do what they do. This post is one of those observations I made during a trip back from downtown Portland to my hotel.

 

After the little four year old boy fell to sleep we stopped in Old China Town and a young 20 something man with a Mohawk haircut wearing a tie died shirt boarded the Yellow Line and stood near the door with a look of disgust on his face. His black jeans were tight against his legs and came to a compressed pile at the top of his combat boots.

 

“I can’t believe I didn’t get that job!”

 

“I was the strongest one there! No one could’ve taken me!”

 

“All because of my piercings and haircut!”

 

“Where does he get off telling me that I wouldn’t fit in!”

 

“Especially in a place like that! A strip joint no less!”

 

“I would think you’d want someone who looked scary for a bouncer.”

 

“And how does he think my piercings pose a potential health risk? Does he think someone is gonna rip them off me?”

 

“What am I gonna do now? I need to get a job so I can pay rent and continue with college.”

 

“No one is hiring, at least not hiring me anyway.”

 

“I guess I’ll have to try over at McDonalds or Wendy’s again.”

 

“No, wait, They told me last time I couldn’t wear my piercings and I’d have to wear a hat.”

 

“Man, that cramps my style! It hides the real me! I can’t do that!”

 

“All the really cool places won’t be hiring for another couple of weeks until after school starts back up. But, then it’ll be too late! I won’t make rent!”

 

“Maybe I could join that group of panhandlers, I hear they make good money. Everyone’s a sucker for some dirty, poor, kid, on the street with no place to live.”

 

“No, that won’t work either. Once they see my piercings and hair, all they’re gonna think is I’ll spend what they give me on another piercing or tat. I’ll never make any money panhandling.”

 

“I guess I could call up the parents and ask for a loan until the clubs start back up.”

 

“No, that won’t work either, Dad said he would never loan me another cent until I came to my senses and proved to him I was truly committed to going to college. He wanted to see at least two semesters of B’s or higher before he’d give me another cent.”

 

“Man, I’m screwed! I never should have goofed off so much last year. I knew better and the classes weren’t that hard anyway. If I had just applied myself a little, I could have gotten straight A’s, no sweat at all.”

 

“The money from the strip joint was fine! After a couple of weeks, I’d have a full month’s rent and everything I need for this semester’s tuition.”

 

“Hell, if I put in a little overtime, I could make enough for my books and a few supplies.”

 

“I guess I’ll have to do it! I’m going to tone down my image so I can get the job and back into school. Then, next year, Dad will see I’ve changed my ways and pay to send me to college and everything will be alright.”

 

“Hell, I could even pick up a part time gig over at Wendy’s, so I have some extra cash for the weekends.”

 

“And if any of the guys give me shit, I’ll pound the shit out of them!”

 

“They don’t rule me and they can’t tell me what to do or how to look!”

 

“I’m gonna do what I have to do to make it through this. And if that means I have to change the way I look to get a job, well, Hell! I’m gonna do it.”

 

“I think I’ll head back over to Old China Town and talk to the owner of that club again. Hopefully he hasn’t given the job to anyone else.”

 

And, then out of the corner of my eye, I saw the young man start to comb down his Mohawk until it was flat and then he started to unscrew the end off the stud which ran through his nose and pull it out with a little wince. The train came to a stop and the man got off the train and turned looking for the next one heading back south.

 

As we drove off, I saw him put the stud in his pocket and start to attack the bar going through his eyebrow.

 

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People on the Max – The Young Boy

The Max is a lite rail public transportation system in Portland, OR. and like any type of mass transportation a very interesting cross section of people ride it for various reasons. Some are commuters going to and from work, others are visiting the downtown area to see a show or go to dinner, others use it to meet up with their buds and run around, while others use it as a way to get out of the cold of night or heat of day.

 

I however, am a tourist using it to visit my daughter who attends college in downtown Portland. And as I do whenever I go anywhere, I observe the people around me and wonder what they are thinking, wonder what makes them do what they do. This post is one of those observations I made during a trip back from downtown Portland to my hotel.

 

After the incident with the older gentleman, I waited at Pioneer Square for the Yellow Line to arrive. A couple with a four year old and a newborn in a stroller were waiting a little ways down from me. The four year old boy had excitement written across his face, his eyes were so widely opened they must have been two sizes bigger than normal.

 

“What an adventure!”

 

“First, Daddy and Mommy took me on the train to go shopping! We got to see all of the big, big buildings and then we had ice cream, my favorite flavor too, chocolate!”

 

“And I got to eat a cheeseburger! With fries and everything!”

 

“Even got to have a coke in a glass with a straw! Mommy never lets me drink from a glass, but this time she did!”

 

“I must be getting big, now that I got to drink from a glass all by myself.”

 

“Hey what’s this big silver box?”

 

The boy ran away from his parents to the Ticket dispenser trying to get a better look at the curious silver box with Blue, Yellow and Red letters on it.

 

“What’s this? Could it be some sort of game?”

 

“It has buttons on it! Maybe I can reach them and push em! Maybe it will give me something!”

 

The boy reached up as high as he could and tried to reach the buttons on the front of the ticket dispenser, but couldn’t quite reach them.

 

“Hmph! I guess I need to get daddy to help me.”

 

“Daddy!”, the boy screamed as he ran over to his parents grabbing his father’s hand and tugging him towards the the ticket dispenser.

 

“What’s This Daddy?”, the boy said loudly with excitement in his voice.

 

“Help me make it work, Daddy!”

 

The father rolled his eyes, tired from expending way too much energy, but the father patiently reached down and lifted the boy up an explained the ticket dispenser to his son.

 

“Daddy! Can I buy a ticket!”, the boy exclaimed.

 

“No son, we already have ours, we got them earlier before we came. Don’t you remember? You helped me buy them, You put the dollars in the machine up at Echo Park.”

 

“But, Daddy, I want to buy another ticket!”

 

“No son, the train is coming we need to get ready to get on it so we can go home.”

 

“But, Daddy, I want to buy another ticket!”

 

The boy started to cry, trying to embarrass his father into letting him buy another ticket. But, it didn’t work, the father walked back over to his wife and the newborn and didn’t even blink an eye.

 

Just then the Yellow Line pulled up and the doors opened, I climbed on the train and found a seat in the middle of the car. The family boarded the train as well.

 

“Daddy, let’s set up there!”, the boy was pointing at some seats that were elevated over the wheels of the train.

 

The father pushed the stroller to the steps and then lifted it up the single step and sat it down next to the fours chairs. The little four year old boy climbed up in the seat next to the window, standing, he held his hands up to cup his eyes so he could see out as the train pulled away.

 

“What an adventure!”

 

“I get to ride the train again!”

 

“Wow! look at all the big buildings!”

 

The boy dropped to his knees after awhile, still looking out the window at the buildings.

 

Soon, he went from kneeling to sitting, too tired to look anymore.

 

Then he was fast asleep, worn out by a day of adventure and exciting new discoveries.

 

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People on the Max – The Older Gentleman

The Max is a lite rail public transportation system in Portland, OR. and like any type of mass transportation a very interesting cross section of people ride it for various reasons. Some are commuters going to and from work, others are visiting the downtown area to see a show or go to dinner, others use it to meet up with their buds and run around, while others use it as a way to get out of the cold of night or heat of day.

 

I however, am a tourist using it to visit my daughter who attends college in downtown Portland. And as I do whenever I go anywhere, I observe the people around me and wonder what they are thinking, wonder what makes them do what they do. This post is one of those observations I made during a trip back from downtown Portland to my hotel.

 

Soon after I boarded the Max I encountered a 60 something older gentleman sitting across from me, who looked like he had seen better days, those he had seen lately must have been through the bottom of a bottle. He was drunk, unshaven, his clothes dirty and worn and around him at his feet were several bags filled with what looked to be his only belongings.

 

At first I thought he might have been blind because he stared out through the window across from him without blinking or moving. His eyes seemed unresponsive and kind of hazy and he was mumbling some type of gibberish softly under his breath. I looked away hoping not to upset him. I’ve had bad encounters with drunks on public transit before and its makes me more embarrassed for them than it embarrasses me when they get upset and make a scene.

 

After a couple of stops a family returning from a ball game boarded the Max and sat down around him.

 

“These people are gonna want to take my stuff!”

 

“I’ll have to scare them off, make them want to get up and move. Can’t have anyone take my stuff! Its All I got.”

 

Just then the little girl setting in her daddy’s lap next to the old man innocently kicked one of his bags and the bottles inside rustled making a jingling sound.

 

“I knew they wanted my stuff!”

 

“See, she’s trying to get at my bottles.”

 

“She wants them for the nickels.”

 

“I knew it, she wants to use them nickels to buy her some candy.”

 

“Well she can’t have them, they’re mine!”

 

“I spent all day going through the dumpsters finding them, they’re mine!”

 

Just then the older gentlemen grabbed the bag and with the rustle of paper and jingle of bottles, picked it up and sat it down away from the girl.

 

“I need them to leave! I need them to go away! Why’d they have to set next to me anyways!”

 

Just then the old man’s mumbling started to grow louder.

 

“You don’t see me going around kicking people’s stuff or trying to take it!”

 

“They need to leave, Now!”

 

“I’ve got to make them leave so my stuff will be safe!”

 

The old man’s mumbling grew louder and irate.

 

“Its not working! They ain’t moving! What am I going to do now!”

 

Just then the older gentleman bent over and drug a dirty cloth tote bag close to him. He unzipped the pocket on the side and reached in and started to pull out a pink ladies razor and shake it at the family with rage.

 

“You try to take my stuff again and I’ll cut you! Yes, I’ll cut you!”

 

“I don’t care how young you are, you try to steal my stuff and I’ll cut you!”

 

With that the family got up and moved down to the the far end of the car and sat down.  All the time wondering why the older gentleman was so upset.

 

The older gentleman smiled with content as the family moved away and then he bent over and stuffed the razor back into the side pocket and zipped it back close.

 

“I knew it. I just had to show them that I wasn’t going to let them take my stuff and they’d leave.”

 

“Nothing to worry about now, I’m all by myself, nobody is going to take my stuff, nobody.”

 

Meanwhile, the father of the young girl was on his cell phone frantically speaking to someone about the old man. He was gesturing with one hand as he talked. After awhile he closed the phone and spoke to his wife, trying to calm her down.

 

The next stop came nothing happened. The family got up and left the car and waited for it to leave. As we pulled away a policeman walked up to the family and I could see the father waving his hands as he explained to the officer and pointing at the older gentleman as we moved away.

 

The next stop came, it was my place to change trains and catch the Yellow Line out to Expo Park, I got up and left the car and waited for this train to leave.

 

But this time the doors didn’t close as quickly as they did before. Two policemen arrived and boarded the car, they quickly located the older gentleman and started to question him about the incident. The doors closed and the train began to pull away. I could see the old man shaking his head and clutching his cloth tote as the police demanded he show them the contents. A look of panic was on his face, his eyes were clear as could be and all he could think of was, “They’ve come back for my stuff! Those mean people! They’re going to take it away from me after all! Those mean people!”

 

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