first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week During that time, commuting in the San Fernando Valley has deteriorated significantly. The everyday courtesies of the road are gone. Signaling is a lost art. Slowing to allow people to change lanes is a thing of the past. The cars got bigger and brains got smaller. Civility dwindled until now it only twinkles like a distant star, eclipsed by the cell phone. It’s nine miles from Valley Glen to the Daily News office in Woodland Hills. I have been commuting these nine miles so long that I’m pretty sure my car does the real driving. Frequently I’m surprised to find the car already pulling into the Daily News driveway before I knew we’d arrived. The bus arrives a little more than two minutes after I do. I get on through the rear door, just behind the strange accordion thing that allows the bus to turn on a dime. The bus is almost full, but nobody is standing. Half of the seats face the center of the bus. I choose a seat facing the aisle. It’s the best seat for the second part of why I rode the bus. The Orange Line is my retirement plan. A lot of people are worried about the dangers of this busway: No intersection crossing gates. Poor placement of light signals. Poor placement of warning signs. Neighbors will be kept awake nights by the sound of buses bumping into cars, bicyclists and pedestrians. What if they aren’t just dogs-in-the-manger, sour-graping-it, light-rail chauvinists? I intend to be on the bus. Even a slow-motion accident, a tai-chi collision, will be sufficient for my retirement. I have my lawyer’s business card in my wallet. I am the only coat-and-tie person on the bus. Everybody else appears to labor for a living. There are no blondes going west; perhaps they ride east in the morning. Out of the window is the backside of what I usually see when my car is driving me to work. I see Victory Boulevard over to our right. I look up and down the street and for a moment I think I see my car. Maybe my car has decided to make the commute without me. Nope, not my car. Then, there’s a cornfield. There was never a cornfield on my commute. It’s a fine cornfield. Acres of green cornstalks rippling in the early morning. Cornfields are always relaxing. No one is ahead, no one behind, no one keeping score. It’s always now in the cornfields. The bus stops again. It’s been stopping right along but I haven’t been paying attention. More riders get on and suddenly a big woman is standing in front of me. The whole other side of the bus is blotted out. She’s going to sit down in the empty seat next to me. I’m considering standing for the rest of the ride when she turns to me and smiles. She has a better smile than Antonio. It’s a wonderful smile. She’s going to a house-cleaning job in Northridge. She’s done it for years. This is a better bus for her. Her English is pretty good. Much better than my Spanish. I know one phrase in Spanish: “Donde es bano.” That’s all you really need in a foreign language. Your can pantomime everything else but you can’t pantomime, `Where is the bathroom?” and stay out of fights. We leave the busway itself and go down Oxnard Street past the Daily News. I look in the parking lot to see if my car beat me here but it was nowhere in sight. The bus stops on Owensmouth Avenue, my stop. I look out at the people waiting around. No Antonio. A good trip. Mike Tetreault is the Daily News letters editor and can be reached at [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! It’s 6:45 a.m. Tuesday at the Orange Line’s Van Nuys Station. There are a half-dozen folks waiting to go west. Across the busway, there are twice that number going east. This is my first ride on the Orange Line, or any bus for that matter, since I got out of the Army in the mid-’60s. I was going to ride the bus on Saturday but I was afraid of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Not Antonio himself, but of Antonio’s almost mystical ability to get his picture taken. Where there is Antonio, a camera will appear. I don’t like to have my picture taken; a picture steals part of our souls. Look at the movie stars, look at the celebrities, look at the politicians. The westbound Orange Line buses run every six minutes or so, but I’ve been waiting for this particular bus for nine years, minimum. last_img

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