on being carless in a car society

an 'average-sized' american car one thing that has often struck me upon returning to the U.S. after time abroad is the size of the vehicles. nowhere else on earth do the size of the cars match those of the united states. i distinctly remember after a year and a half in china and 2 weeks in new zealand following it, i landed in san francisco and nearly had a heart attack as my friend’s teeny ford escort buzzed down the highway with huge pickup trucks screaming by.

to add insult to injury, i am now living in albuquerque, a place where it is virtually impossible to stay for any extended period of time without a vehicle of some kind. for two weeks while my uncle was away, bill and i drove his humongous dodge ram around the city – an experience i don’t care to relive (but thanks, uncle tim, for the wheels!). it’s like this: you can’t not have a car, but when you do, it’s too big.

albuquerque’s public transport system, which consists only of buses, is flimsy at best. in purported attempts by the local government to beef up the buses and trains, we now have the albuquerque rapid ride, as well as the new mexico rail runner train, both of which i use with relish, on the occasion that they actually take me to a place i’m going at a time i’m going there.

bill and i just last week signed a lease on a new apartment in the trendy nob hill area of albuquerque. here, we’re endowed with pedestrian access to restaurants, cafes, a supermarket and the bus system, should we want to try and get to some other part of the city – god forbid it.

all of this leads me to muse with gentle sentimentality about those rainy days cramming into an over-packed dublin bus, its windows fogged over by sweat, drenched shoes and umbrellas and human breath. they charged you way too much for a single ride and treated you like shite from the start to finish of your journey, sometimes disregarding altogether your request for a stop and forcing you to walk 10 minutes in the direction you just came.

but dublin bus runs until 11 pm all over the city, and then there is the oh-such-an-amazing-experience – the nitelink – a late night, once-an-hour bus service where you can see firsthand the aftereffects of too much nightcrawling and too many pints. if you’ve ever wondered what a girl’s hair looks like at the end of a long night of clubbing, her green dress with the sequins gently stained or torn, or what a guy smells like after his fresh cologne has combined with the aroma of spilt beer and too many fags to count, or what a horny couple looks like just before they head home to a night of drunken semi-bliss, just hop on board dublin’s nitelink. i heard a story once, it might be an urban legend, that someone was sitting next to a girl on the nitelink who vomited into her own hands and actually held the puke there all the way to her stop, leaving behind her hat on the seat.

god, i miss public transportation.

here, for your viewing enjoyment, is a fairly tame taster of dublin nitelink fun.

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