I borrowed my mother’s car so we could go to John and Joan’s wedding without paying for the Flexcar. (Joan’s house isn’t accessible by public transportation) This involved a trip to my mother’s house to pick up the car. Normally this is a fairly easy trip. I get on the Max Yellow line and read until I hit the bus mall downtown at which point I transfer to the #12 and read until I reach her stop. It takes about an hour, but it’s usually a pleasant hour spent reading: either on the bus, or while waiting for the bus.
Not today. Today’s commute would put off a commuter not as hearty as I. First of all, if I chose to take the yellow line, I would have to take a detour because the Max trains were not running over the Steel Bridge, their passage to downtown. Instead, I would have to take a shuttle bus over a different bridge and wait for a connecting train. So, I avoided the whole Max/Shuttle Bus/Max/Bus rigmarole and decided to take the #6 which would take me downtown where I could grab the #12 which takes me straight out to my mom’s house.
The #6 is what I would call an “advanced” bus route. Not that it is difficult to get off and on it, or the route itself is confusing, but for people not used to the melting pot that is public transportation and a bit leery about taking it in the first place, I would direct you away from the #6. First of all, the route, after turning from Lombard, travels a long way on MLK. And many, many people who live and work near MLK need to take the bus. So the bus stops often. On days I want to be somewhere quickly it seems to stop at every possible stop.
The clientele of the #6 bus ranges from incredibly loud teenagers (who can be a bit fowl-mouthed) to middle class working people, to poor working people. Throw in a few hipsters and a couple of guys with big bags of cans and you’ve got a crowded bus. I’ve ridden the #6 morning noon and night and never have I had the seat to myself for the entire trip.
So it was this trip. I was trying to write letters and the constant stopping and starting and sheer mass of humanity had my motion sickness kicking in. Without a book to retreat to, I resigned myself to staring out the window and eavesdropping on conversations.
As we approached the Hawthorne Bridge, my spidey sense kicked in. Shouldn’t we be a lot closer to downtown by now? I consulted my notes and found that, indeed we should be crossing the bridge at this point. What was holding us up?
As we slowly made our way over the bridge I realized what the problem was. It was the Flugtag! For those uninitiated, Red Bull sponsors a Flugtag in different cities around the world. Local teams make flying objects, dress in costumes and then attempt to fly off a pier, or other high place, and land in the water. Some enterprising team flew 195 feet in Austria in the year 2000, but mostly you watch the skit the group performs and then gasp as the flying machine falls off the pier and straight into the water. I went in 2004 and it is a nice way to spend an afternoon.
My recollection of that event was that I wandered down 2 hours or so before and had a seat. People filled in spaces and we all watched the show. From the bridge, this year’s event was a different animal. The “bowl” at Tom McCall Waterfront Park was packed with people. The other side of the bridge, with the big screen TV, was packed with people. Hordes of people were walking on the bridge. Billions of bikes were locked to the bridge. Traffic was moving very, very slowly.
I learned later that 80,000 people came to watch the Flugtag. With 80,000 people in once place, no one is getting anywhere fast. The bus eventually made it over the bridge, but I had missed my #12 connection. The next one was late too. I eventually made it out to my mom’s house and found out that my brother was part of the problem. He had gone to the Flugtag with a neighbor.
ps. I titled this Farging Flugtag because I just read an article about Battlestar Galactica and their clever use of the made up word “frack” which substitutes for another f-word not used on TV, or in polite company. “Fake f-words?” I thought to myself, “Why, members of the Borah Band circa 1991 already had a good fake f-word: farg.” I mostly associate the use of “farg” to Aaron Nesbit, he of the most heavy use, but it was in common use at the time among populations seeking to avoid profanity.