Max Lance Typing

Things I Miss About New York: Racing to Read the End of the Chapter Before the Subway Doors Open at My Stop

This shouldn’t be a nostalgia day. It’s a perfect seventy degrees in the Southland while NYC is getting knocked with those freezing water rain pelts (I think there is another word for this).

I was just thinking about how all the fun has been taken out of reading ever since I moved west. This is partly due to the fact that no one reads books on the other side of the Rocky Mountains, so you can’t really talk about anything you’ve read, and – most importantly – appear intelligent. I think the thing that’s missing most, though, is that I no longer have subway car doors to race when the end of the chapter is in sight.

This is much more exciting than it should be, yet with all the competing media to get my entertainment dollar, it’s freaking awesome. The drama starts a few stops before you get to where you’re going. Let’s say you turn the page and it’s a full block of text without any of those little dot things (again, probably a word for this) to break up the page. And no one wants to put their bookmark between two pages full of text. That’s insane. In-sane.

But then you turn the next page and see that the chapter is over in around seven paragraphs. Then the conductor says your stop is next, and IT. IS. ON.

This is Waiting for Superman times a thousand. We can get kids to read without having them get smarter or ditch their video game mentality. I never absorb a single word under this kind of pressure, but I sure as hell am going to have my eyes cross every single letter. That’s part of the game. There are no cheat codes when it comes to beating the subway doors to the end of the chapter.


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Unfortunately, the closest equivalent to this in L.A. is trying to read without getting into a ten-car pile-up on the Santa Monica Freeway. While fun, the risk-reward ratio is obscene.

The bus isn’t the same. First, no one can read on a bus. L.A. is pot-holed enough, and the city decided to save money by not adding shock-absorbers to the Metro fleet. And things aren’t working out in your life well at all if you’re on the bus in the first place. You’e not going to sweep all those problems under the rug because you got your hands on the New York Times Bestseller List.

This is motivation in its own right to build the L.A. subway to parts of town where people live and want to go. Sure, you can read and race the L.A. subway doors, but there isn’t all that much drama when the train is going to the corner of Western and Normandie before you have to wait an hour for the next bus to get your unemployment check. At least on the bright side, after you have received your last explanation of benefits, you have something to peruse for the long ride home.

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