Minnesota Daily reporter Robert Downs masochistically decided to spend 19 hours traveling on the Metro Transit system, recording what he saw. For the most part, what he saw were depressing scenes and snippets, like the bus-stop fistfight that opens the piece and a conversation with a Wal-Mart greeter. Here's my favorite passage, during a conversation with a fellow named Robert Olson; the pathos rolls off it in waves.
"I came to Minneapolis in 1995, strung out on methamphetamines," Olson said. "I ain't done any in 13 years. There's no practical purpose in taking meth except for war." Olson was not in a war when he was strung out, he said. He was in San Bernardino County, Calif. A part-time worker, Olson sees a lucrative future in buying foreclosed homes and flipping them for a profit, but said he just doesn't have the capital to buy his first house. Olson works part-time at his cousin's house in East St. Paul.There are a couple lighter bits, like the bus driver who says passengers have brought him Christmas goodies. But mostly it's one down-and-out tale of woe after another, guaranteed to make you thankful in the upcoming holiday for your nice heated, clean car away from other human beings.