Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Strangers on a Train, Pt. 3


We were, I believe, discussing the public transit system in Salt Lake called Trax. I quickly learned that it was a fairly efficient way to get from my lodging in the middle of the valley to either Sandy City or to Salt Lake City, where shopping, food, fun--are all available. It was cheap entertainment as well.

One of my Salt Lake colleagues explained to me that the closer to "downtown" Salt Lake one gets, the crazier the people become. From my previous posts, that much is obvious. Apparently, though, frequent riders on Trax become somewhat jaded to their surroundings.

Case in point: I had taken a train down to Sandy City to do some shopping and decided to ride all the way in to Salt Lake to browse through their so-called Gateway Mall. This is a fairly new "mall"--really an oversized strip mall, if you ask me--an "open-air pedestrian mall" that has taken over several city blocks in the heart of the city. High-end shops abound, as do the snobs and freaks.

Aside: And really--how smart is an open-air mall in a place that reaches 100+ degrees in the summer and the 'teens (or below) with heavy snows in the winter. C'mon.... SOMEONE just was not thinking.

So, I've just gotten on the train and found a seat near the end of the car. There are a good number of other riders around me. After about five minutes, my eyes fall upon the "Handicap" sign. You know the type, pleading with riders to "please be considerate" and "reserve these seats" for those who need them the most.

It even took me a few minutes and I have only been on the train a handful of times. After these few minutes, I noticed a piece of regular white paper taped immediately below the "Handicap" sign. I managed to fumble a picture.

Odd. I was not aware that this was a big problem. A random inconvenience, perhaps, but not a wide-scale public health risk. I have to admit my guilt: I laughed. Snorted, really.

I had to be careful, because I did not want to call attention to the sign. Instead, I immediately determined to perform a social experiment. I wanted to see how the other riders reacted to the sign.

Not a flinch. Not a smile.

For almost one-half hour I rode that train and watched person after person get on and get off. For that entire trip--as far as I could tell--I was the only person to notice the sign. All the others were too engrossed in their books, their electronic devices, or the passing scenery.

No neighbor-nudging. Not even a head-shake.

Are the public transit riders in Utah that sheep-like? "Just climb aboard and wait to be dipped and shorn. Just don't break wind and all y'all'll be fine."

Well...I'm not a sheep. I reacted, with a good snort of laughter. Every time I thought about it, in fact, I snorted.

THAT got a reaction from the other riders.

...I think they thought I was crazy.

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