Thursday, July 2, 2009

The End of the line

Note: it was later confirmed by the Press office of the Metro LA that the cause of the train stoppage was a power outage. They do not know what caused the outage or if it will reoccur

At the End of the Line

I like the Los Angeles subway system. In the subways you could be in any city, any place. From San Francisco to London subways are very alike.

Today at eleven forty-something the red line train to north Hollywood slowed. It stopped several time between stations before, at 12:08, coming into the Hollywood and Vine station the conductor announced. "Folks, I've just been told that this is the last stop. This train is going to be turned around and sent back to Union Station, you'll have to make your own way from here."

When i returned, at 1:40pm I was told the trains still weren't going. "There's a suicide," a young woman holding her boyfriend's hand, told me.

The same way someone might say, "There's an apple." No inflection, no thought, not an event but a thing. A suicide. I decide to go in and wait, hoping that at least the trains going away from the thing will start up soon. After 20 minutes the train going towards downtown, where i happen to live, start up again. As we pass station to station i see the trains on the other side of the platform standing inert, each one filled with people going nowhere. People who hopefully stand inside the non-moving cars, their attitude less of a vigil and more of a stoic, where else can i go?

The car is packed but quiet, nobody speaking much above a whisper, a guitar plays just softly enough in the background to be mistaken for incidental music. As though this was a very boring, very long, scene in some genius's independent film. And like any independent film star the narrator in my head begins it, well its narration.

At first, being the narcissistic being that i am, i imagine someone very much like myself. Maybe somebody like me with health or money problems (or worse money problems.) I wonder what could make me jump in front of an oncoming train, instead of taking it to Universal Studios and going on rides that only simulate catastrophes. I wonder if I ever could do that, to myself, to the passengers, to the train driver.

Then i think about the act itself, if it was a fall or a leap. if the person waited till just before, or climbed down and watched it coming. i wonder if the thing that happened was a suicide. My mind runs through the possibilities of all the people it could be. A veteran with PTSD, a failed actress writer musician, a drunk or druggie, or someone very much like me who was in a lot of pain.

I wonder which train exactly experienced the thing. I had missed the train before mine, mistaking the red line for the purple line and not getting on. Was that the train that had the problem? How close to this thing was I?

At 2:02 the train across from us starts to go forward again. I wonder about the whys of a suicide that is so public, so gruesome, and dare i say it? so annoying to commuters. For two hours this person was thought about by every person trying to get to work, or go home. Tourists with over-sized luggage thought about this person. Boss's waiting for workers thought about this thing. Children waiting for parents to pick them up from school were affected by this person. For two hours this person mattered. For two hours this person would make the world stop for them god damn it. See me, know me, pay attention to me.

I wonder if that is why they did it? Why they went into a station filled with film canisters and gilded stars and decided that for just a moment, that moment, they would matter.

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