Chuckbo III - The Magic Metro Ride

Downtown! It's where I like to work -- except for minor inconveniences such as overpriced parking and the long commute with rude, idiot drivers (you all know who you are). That's why I began riding the bus. Mr. Toastmaster, fellow members, and guests, I know what you're thinking: "hey Chuck, I've always wanted to ride the bus, but I've been too intimidated." Well, I'm here to give you practical advice on the etiquette of bus-riding. Follow these simple tips to enhance your bus-riding experience.

First, keep telling yourself that "I can get there." It may take four or five bus changes, but you can get there. Here's how to plan your trip. Take your bus schedule and intersect where you are, where you're going, what time you have to be there, what time you're leaving ... oh, and let's throw in the phase of the moon and the number of letters in your name just for grins ... oh yeah, here it is: for information on metro routes, call 225-1010. That's the only way to do it!

Second, mingle with the other regulars. There's the guy with a tattoo of an anvil on his forehead, the petite oriental woman who reads Spanish romance novels, the retired gentleman who goes downtown to watch small claims court, and the young man wearing a suit and preaching from the Bible. Use your listening and speaking skills to invite your new friends to your Toastmaster club. Even better, earn valuable points for your District by forming the world's first mobile club on your bus!

Third, Take advantage of your new commute time. Remember that for ever hour spent on the bus, that's about ten minutes that you aren't in your car. Use the time to pursue your favorite hobbies. Except for you
Toothtations; I don't know about that lip-syncing! Common activities are: reading, sewing, and sleeping. In rare cases, you can include playing a musical instrument (like the boombox), but only if you're real big and real mean-looking.

Fourth, stay alert, because opportunities for excitement constantly surround you. I was riding home one evening when a man and woman got on. I was immediately suspicious due to the enormous bulges under their jackets, and I surmised that they were carrying portable grenade launchers. Without delay, I hurled a couple of leftover apples and knocked them both unconscious. I ran up to examine them and noticed that he was wearing gold socks, and she was wearing red socks to match his. Suddenly their nefarious scheme was frighteningly obvious: their accomplices were going to kidnap Hakeem Olajuwon, and this bus was supposed to be the getaway vehicle.

Only I had time to thwart their evil plan. I jumped off of the bus and began running towards the Summit until I caught up to a car at a red light. Imagine Claudia Schiffer and Heather Locklear in green and white bikinis, driving a scarlet Lamborghini convertible, asking what they could do for me. (Pause --- smile) Okay, that was fun, but back to reality. I caught up to a small, white-haired lady in her 80s driving a white Ford Bronco. I knew this would work; I once saw a car like this on TV stay ahead of a pack of police cars for over an hour!

She introduced herself as Myrtle Doppenheimer, and we took off ä and she's swerving around cars left and right. As she left the road and began driving on the sidewalk, she explained that she used to be a stunt driver. Perfect! I've seen enough Steven Segall action movies to know the value of having a babe around to cover your back.

We came to acrowd and knew the rest of our progress would be by foot. We dragged each other through the mob. But wait; this was game four of the NBA finals, and we didn't have tickets. The guards refused to let us enter; they were in on it!

Fortunately, Myrtle had been the lead architect for the firm that built Greenway Plaza, and she knew an emergency access tunnel. We ran to the feeder, descended a manhole, and headed towards the Summit, but we met resistance ä a dozen men with machine guns. We plunged forward. Myrtle eliminated six of them with her concealed handgun, and I finished off the rest with a series of flashy kung-fu moves. And my wife used to tell me that I was wasting my time watching the Power Rangers.

There were only thirty minutes to gametime, and now our progress was impeded by a locked metal door. Myrtle asked to borrow my tie. Combined with her hatpin, cigarette lighter, and can of mace, she constructed a crude blowtorch to melt the lock. Silently, we opened the door and scouted the layout. It was about twenty yards from us to a small room where Hakeem was tied captive. The tiled floor between us was mined. Myrtle used her rope to lasso the doorknob, and she held her end while I ran across it like a tightrope. At the other end, I reprogrammed the alarm system to turn off the minefield.

We entered the room, but it was too late; Hakeem was drugged and unable to play. What could we do? The Rockets were goners without Hakeem, and this could swing the momentum to Orlando. There was only one choice; I would have to take his place.

Myrtle converted her video camera into a projector and we dialed into my Macintosh with her cellular phone. I programmed it to project a holographic image of Hakeem's body over my own to keep the Magic from realizing that it was me on the floor instead of him. You might remember that I dominated Shaq that evening, scoring and rebounding at will. I asked Myrtle if she wanted to start the second half, but she just shook her head. I even ended the game with a 3-pointer, just to show off.

Later, Hakeem thanked me for saving his life and for winning the game. He offered to give me his championship ring, but I told him that I hadn't done anything that any other Houstonian wouldn't do.

So you see, there's no reason to be intimidated by Metro. Just remember my simple tips:
1) be positive about reaching your destination;
2) make friends;
3) use your travel time constructively;
4) anticipate adventure --- especially if you ride with Metro's newest driver, Myrtle Doppenheimer.

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