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Davis, California

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Column: Oh, the horror!

As college students, we’re all commuters – to an extent, at least. Unless you were raised in Davis and go to college here, too (bless your heart), odds are you’re from some other part of California. Depending on your location of origin and transportation means, how enjoyable your trip to and from school is can vary.

Nothing can be more frustrating than a 60-mile trip that takes well over an hour. Whether you’re coming or going, it’s hell when traffic hits the 80.

I was once stuck going home (in case you didn’t guess it, that’s the Bay Area) from Sacramento during rush hour. Plus, I had no music to listen to. Not a radio, not an iPod, not even an mp3 on my cell phone. I cringe while I reflect on that experience.

In the meantime, some of us will take planes to and from our hometowns. There are pros and cons of this, too. Just so people don’t think I’m so negative all the time, here are some pros: It’s a hell of a lot faster, it’s really exciting being in the sky and people come by pushing a cart full of food and ask you if you want anything. (Is it just my dirty mind or does the first two parts of that sentence make you think of the mile high club? Actually, the last two parts could, too. Okay, add mile high club to the list of pros.)

Cons include children, sitting in the middle seat, smelly people, layovers and plane crashes.

Children! They show you all the cool stuff they have. A pacifier, sippy cup, the gum in their mouth – what do you do in that situation? Just smile, pet him a little, then go back to your book. A mom once actually asked if I could hold her son for a little bit. She sends the kid my way. There I am, cradling this little boy in my lap while he stares at me. The mother is ecstatic. Then the little poop starts crying! And I feel it’s my responsibility as the apparent caregiver for this child to console him for the duration of the plane ride. So I start patting his back a little and rocking him and stuff. The mom says to give him back. Take him!

Amtrak is easily the best mode of transportation to the Bay and back. The best part is the lack of children and the fact that sleep comes easier than in the congested seating of a plane. The scenery changes quickly, so before you know it, the cows are gone and the familiar and comforting maze of overpasses and highways is back.

However, not knowing the exact time of arrival can be irritating, especially when time is short. The train won’t really speed up. Rather, it usually slows down before anything.

Something I didn’t know before this weekend: A train is not allowed to cross a bridge with a boat going under it. Not a drawbridge or anything – a suspension bridge.

All the delays happen when we’re in a rush. Tick-tock-tick-tock – the 9 a.m. westbound train with station stops of Suisun/Fairfield, Martinez, Richmond, Berkeley, Emeryville and Oakland/Jack London waits for this tiny yacht-looking boat to make its merry little way under the Benicia Bridge!

And everyone on the train is mentally trying to add minutes to the original time of arrival, imagining themselves swerving through lanes, going 90 mph, not taking shit from some tiny yacht.

We know how that can turn out, though. It’s a vicious circle, this commuting stuff. However, regardless of your mode of transportation, anyone can appreciate getting out of Davis for a weekend.

SARA KOHGADAI wants to know your commuter horror story. E-mail her at sbkohgadai@ucdavis.edu.


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