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RTD
Experiencing a Functional Mass Transit System: Denver, 4/1/2022
© 2022 James LaFond
AUG/19/22
It was confusing. I have been at Denver’s Union Station a half dozen times. The train arrived at 8:56 P.M. as darkness cloaked the modern glass box and metal bow architecture. Cops and security were thick on the ground and helpful, to the extent that they knew where things were. I was wearing teamster’s clothes and looking retired, a friend’s strategy for making certain that cops and Amtrak people treated me better—and it worked!
But the cops and security were slightly outnumbered by the large homeless drug addicted Bantus generally in their thirties. These goons sold drugs, did drugs, and fenced stolen goods in front of the police and security, all of whom were gun armed. With a rucksack strapped to my back, I was a likely target for groups of larger men half my size and three tried me—then the hand went into the pocket to the yank-knife and they veered off.
One negro asked me if I wanted weed and I kept on going.
There is an escalator down into the bus terminal where the ticket counter for the RTD light rail is—and was closed. I could not get a ticket.
Many buses were coming and going, with the greyhound bus terminal, run by two Africans, being the focus. A big older Bantu sang and played guitar.
A large redneck, in his 20s, drunk, angry, amped up on some uppers, and sweating approached me with a child’s scooter in his hand, “Will you buy this fuckin’ thing from me? I need ten dollars.”
I kept on going and this big bastard follows me, twirling this metal scooter around in one hand like a noise-maker. It occurs that he could knock the shit out of me with this and stomp me out while I tried to get out of the rucksack.
He leaves me and starts asking the Bantu musician.
A dead end—I was sent the wrong way by the Nigerian cop, and then by the nice bald ghost cop and circle around again. Cops are rousting some brown dope fiend who is insisting on rights of some kind.
I see the nice bald cop and his supervisor—a Robert Conrad knockoff—and the ranking cop directs me to the correct platform.
I board the train without even having to step up, spacious and clean. Mask signs are up. Amtrak conductors have told us for two days that all mass transit is a mask zone still. None of the young white men are masked. One is a lone musician, a bearded grunge man with guitar who helps the only masked man on the bus, a black drug addict, with a sloth donation.
The other 8 men are 17 to 22 year old athletes of the skateboarding kind headed to a party.
A pleasing Latina is unmasked.
Two pretty, plump, white women are masked—a shame as they are prettier than the Latina.
Various homeless, or criminal or grifting Bantus come on the bus, look for a mark—whether for selling, begging or sexing I could not tell, but did not think they were violent. A discovered here were the men from places like Dallas, LA, Austin and Chicago come when they are at the bottom of a darkling food chain.
I had no ticket.
I took off the mask—refusing to be the only masked ghost man.
The train had no driver, no attendant, no conductor that I could see.
A female computer spoke: “please for the safety of fellow passengers, where masks at all times while using RTD.”
“You must have a ticket, a transfer or a pass to ride the RTD, please have your ticket available for the attendant.”
Back in Baltimore, you had to know your stop. Here, on the RTD, the computer babe tells you what stop is next, then tells you when you get there and tells you to be careful—and I was there, my brilliant young friend, half my age, waiting outside the Central Park RTD station a third of the way between the Amtrak station and the airport.
The knight was cool, the city clean, the women pretty, the men diverted with their various pleasurable activities. I like Denver in a way that makes me want to hate it. It is like Pittsburgh in the sky, or a Salt Lake city where everyone gets high. Denver lacks the hyena quality of predation that is the central focus of eastern cities—but the alienation is still there, people drifting through a bright lit space like ciphers in the night.
When you’ve punched each other and drunk together, it’s usually a hug rather than a handshake, and so it was.
Thank you, Zeer, from your kitchen table.
Tony from Texas
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Jay     Aug 21, 2022

I am from Pittsburgh and have been to Denver many times. I like your observation.
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