Riding the Blue Line in LA (The UndocuTrain)

By Fernando Romero

Fernando, graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 2009 and studied Creative Writing and Journalism. He is a co-founding member of Dreamers Adrift and co-founding member of the AB 540 group FUEL @ CSULB. He is also the Coordinator for the Justice for Immigrants Coalition of Inland Southern California, which is an immigrant-rights coalition in the Inland Empire region of California. He is also a contributing writer to the Huffington Post on the Dream Activist series.



I try to alternate between driving and public transportation, partly because my mexicanity has impelled me to keep it ‘real’ but also for the convenience of saving gas and avoiding the hassle of parking (aka cal state long beach).

In all my years of riding public transportation, stemming back from my childhood to adolescence, to the present quasi-adulthood, has allowed me the privilege to observe the moments in life you cringe at, but you’re not able to look away, because monotony has you down and that part of you that has made you become cynical and insouciant won’t allow you to do anything but to take notice. Stemming back to my radio internship at KPFK, meetings in LA with the dreamers, imm reform peeps, my job (phone slave) in Hollywood selling my soul (and memberships) on behalf of non-profit orgs at a for-profit company, the meetings with the sexual assault crisis agency, schooling, coverage of reporting, journalism thingies, work, etc…..

In all these years of riding public transportation, I’ve heard and seen some crazy things.

There was the time, late at nite I got mugged a knife point near the Watts train station by a couple high school kids. The joke was on them cuz I was flat-broke.  The two youth took a look at my wallet and upon seeing I had no cash, no credit card, no debit card (this is before I gotten my matricula) nothing; they then simply dropped the wallet on the train floor and got off the next station and walked away like nothing had happened.

There was the time, in March 2006, I crammed myself along with hundreds upon hundreds of people at the Del Amo Station as we made our way to Downtown LA to take part in La Gran Marcha.

There was the time when an older man was boarding the train and got his arm stuck in the doors of the metro and then the conductor came out to help but then they started yelling at each other, which in turn caused the older man to begin yelling and pointing at me. “Why you getting mad at me?! I bet you wouldn’t say anything to these BEANERS sitting over here!” I can still feel the heat eminating from his index finger pointing at me while yelling beaners, over and over again.

There was the lady who beat the shit out of her toddler for not being smart enough to hold on to the railing.

There was the white couple who argued all the way from del amo station, where i got on, to 7th Street station. The screaming argument was about about whether or not they should throw away the huge bag of plastic forks they were carrying with them. I guess they had just come from a party or barbecue or something, and they were trying to decide whether to keep them or throw them away and buy new ones later on, to which the man vehemently argued that it’d be best to buy new ones, to which the woman argued that they could be washed and be used all over again. The screaming match went on until everyone got off with them in downtown LA.

There was that woman who told me, as if she knew my relationship, that I shouldn’t be too sure about my girlfriend because she probably doesn’t really love me. Because after all, she’s a woman, and she knows women.

There’s the man who always asks to borrow $10,000 and promises to pay it back on Wednesday. “I didn’t say what Wednesday,” he says, then he takes out his gooey artificial eyeball.

There was the woman who took a crap on herself and cleared out an entire section of the metro, because of the smell, and rocked herself back and forth. Then, months later, she sat next to me and didn’t smell like shit, but perhaps, she smelled of a pleasant scent, one of which i couldn’t recognize because i can’t smell, but it was obvious that it bothered no one.

There was the man who, after the metro stopped in the middle of nowhere and awaited the assistance of technicians, got up from his seat, banged on the conductor’s door and yelled, “What the fuck is you doing? I got muthafucking places to go, so what the fuck is you doing?”

There was the lady who offered me a seat next to her and said, “Next time, ask for the seat. That’s what God gave you a mouth for.” And I resisted answering back in sign language. Because why would God give mute people mouths?

And of course, there was my favorite. The man who kept nodding his head, stop after stop, until finally he jumped up from his seat and told us what was bothering him. “Tae Kwon Do muthafukkah!” he yelled as he impressively kicked the air. “Duh, huh, huh NOTHIN’!” he continued. “He is a liar, a goddamn, muthafuckin, cheap ass liar. Take heat, muthafucka, take heat. I will not calm down. Tae Kwon Do!” Kick, after roundhouse kick, after kick.

But then there was this. A comment from a twenty-something female. It made me gasp. It made my eyes widen and my heart leap. What my creative writing professor, described as “a great Joycean epiphany that rivals anything in The Dubliners.” She said, “Are all cats girls? I’ve never seen a guy cat.”

And it was all I needed, and now I can die.



this post was originally published in February 2010 as a “Note” on Facebook here

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