Saving 50 cents in the City of Angels


I was going to write tonight about a car that I just kissed goodbye…but that masterpiece was preempted because today I was in the company latrine, taking a leak. Women can’t relate to standing at the urinal, but it can be a rather reflective moment during the grueling work day because it affords you a moment of time with which to zone out and stare numbly at a tiled surface while you let the relief of relieving course through your body. It’s a slightly Zen experience, this pissing gig.


I thought of the old “truism” which goes along the lines of “there’s a reason for everything.” I thought about the absurdity of such a preposterous verbal upchuck. There’s a reason for everything. Well, let’s hope. This is usually uttered gravely in response to an unfavorable event. I never hear people blather such stupidity when things are good. I have never heard a lottery winner tell the news reporters, “There’s a reason for everything.” Nope, we reserve this for moments of inauspicious gloom. It’s as if we expect these words to comfort the orphaned child who lost his family in a car accident.


The presumption that “everything” denotes a fixed, 3-dimensional object or occurrence thus also infers that it originated from something. There was a source. It stemmed from a chain of events. So yes, everything that takes up space on this planet and affects our daily life does in fact have a reason. The reason is to exist. Isn’t that reason enough?


If you get shot in the head by a stranger, why yes, there was a reason. It’s called being the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s called making a wrong turn or leaving the house 3 minutes too early, or too late. It’s called driving through an alley you shouldn’t have. Reasons abound.


It’s as if the capitulation that something has a reason somehow makes it more palatable. Why is this? What do people fear about events caused by no reason?


Can such a thing be possible?


We tend to assume random shit falls into this category, but that’s ridiculous. Random happenstance in our macro existence is never truly random in the quantum world of infinitely small scales. “Random” for a human-sized entity merely means that a congruence of events intersected in such a precise manner that they caused something unique to happen, each the result of a conscious action somewhere further back in the chain. True randomness only occurs on the smallest scales where action is so elementally bare so as to have very little precursors to activate it.


I was done with my piss and walked back to my desk.


Party over.


Welcome wide antiseptic world of corporate culture where certain fringes create positions for themselves by running useless reports and interviewing people . Efficiency experts they are called, somewhat. People who make nothing but winnow their way into the corporate safety zone of ulterior offerings.


Yesterday I joked with a co-worker about a half-dollar coin I found in my backpack. I complained that train stations don’t accept them because of their unwieldy size. Jokes about the unremarkable nature of 50 cents ensued.


Today I walked into the Red Line station and was immediately dismayed to see a black dude lounging by the ticket machine with a ticket in his hand. You run into these guys all the time in the rail stations. They stand by the ticket machines and try to nab you before you buy an “official” ticket by offering you a comparable ticket for only a dollar or so. They are quick-fingered and quick-talking artists. They punch tickets out for you, and before you know it, you’ve bought two tickets for the price that you would have paid for one anyways, while simultaneously being led to believe you came out ahead. In my case, I normally buy the standard Red Line one-way fare mated to a metro-to-muni transfer fee of $0.35. My ticket home is $1.85. I strolled to the ticket machine and the black dude gives me the obligatory “hey, how’s it going” line and I think he just wanted to make sure I spoke English. Even black MTA swindlers have standards!


I told him I was good, and then he comes up to me and tells me he will sell his ticket for a buck and I looked at it. It said $1.50 on its face and I told him I needed a transfer, so he punches the keys expertly on the machine and tells me to just buy a transfer to muni, which I did. I asked him to confirm that my dollar would buy his $1.50 ticket and he said yes. Cool. It’s on. I gave him my dollar and took the transfer from the machine. I saved $0.50! I was rather elated with myself.


I walked downstairs and scrutinized the ticket belatedly.



I don’t do this often.


It’s not worth it. The fine for turnstile-jumping here is $250 AND community service, like 2 days of it! Not to mention the embarrassment, inconvenience, and awkwardness while you sit and wait for the transit police to write your citation while floods of respectable citizens walk by, gawking in a direct corollary to highway rubbernecking. Pieces of shit. Get a life. The risk is too great. Anyone in their right mind will just pay the fare, damnit. I didn’t want to be that sucker getting a ticket while downtown trendy bitches walked by. I would be marked forever if they found me with this bogus blue line ticket. It stated specifically going away from 7th/Metro which I was assuredly heading towards. Plus, I was on the Red Line. I don’t know how the transit cops would feel about this. They patrol randomly around L.A. Occasionally they parade into the actual train cars and ask people to show tickets. More often, they stand outside the turnstiles, waiting like hungry sharks, and ask us to show tickets as we cross out.


Each time the train door opened at a new stop, I cringed. Would this be a police officer boarding? I was tense all the way. I stood with my backpack and dreaded the opening door’s offerings. I finally reached my exit and began scaling the stairs slowly. I had a this half-assed plan that I would slowly peek over the top stair and see if the transit cops had a checkpoint readied at the turnstiles. I crept up like a little chickenshit and was relieved to see there were no patrols. I inched forward but remembered that sometimes at Pershing Square the pigs like to stand behind the corner where they can still tell if you have come from the train and not the ticket machine. Technically, the line of legal demarcation are the turnstiles, but they can tell if you crossed the turnstiles which obviously means you haven’t visited the ticket machines. In other words, you are a lying sack of shit. LA County’s finest will see to it you pay and are direly ridiculed. But the floor was bare. No sheriffs around. I felt the wondrous and dangerous elation of an escaped prisoner.


I saved 50 cents.