Photos by Elizabeth Vazquez
Valentine's Day would be pitiful and meaningless if it weren't for various companies trying to subtly promote their brand through get-in-love-quick schemes. This year, the Los Angeles Metro decided to join in on the marketing fun by providing citizens of Los Angeles free speed dating on the subway. That's right, free speed dating on the City of Angels' finest public transportation service on Valentine's Day morning.
How did any of this seem like a good idea to anyone? More importantly, who the hell would actually do this? It's speed dating on public transportation in a city where around 0 percent of people drive, and on a Friday morning no less—a time when most people are probably working. Well, I don't have a car, and my job is to refresh Twitter every 20 minutes, so I guess I was the target audience. I went, half-expecting most of the eligible bachelors to be the drunk people who use our beautiful subway system as a place to urinate.
I arrived at the North Hollywood Metro station at around 11:15. A booth was set up where two Metro workers were sitting. They had us sign some paperwork. When I asked about what I was signing the female employee said, “Oh this is just so you know it's not our fault if you don't find love." Who did I have left to blame then? Just myself.
They then explained that every Red Line train going from North Hollywood to Union Station had one car designated for speed daters and speed daters only. I was given a pink wristband and a button with a pink heart on it to wear. I got on the car with my fellow lonely singles, and immediately got mingled on. These guys were not messin' around!
About seven of us were on the train, and two Metro employees timing us. They blew a whistle and I was approached by Carlos who instantly said, “I bet you like rock music." He then talked about being in nursing school, and forced me to take down his number. He saw my phone in my hand, and said he forgot his cell phone at home. So I got a number. A number I will never call. Everything was going as I expected.
At one stop, a news crew boarded the train, and I was on the verge of having a panic attack. Oh great, am I going to be on TV doing this shit? I started thinking about all the ex-boyfriends who would see some viral YouTube clip dubbed, “Look at This Sad Girl Trying to Date on a Goddamn Train." All of my ex-boyfriends, with their more attractive girlfriends, would laugh and say to their new loved ones, “I win." KABC-7 was going to destroy me.
However, I was soon at ease when I learned that the news crew who was down to chat with me was my dearly beloved Telemundo news crew, who previously interviewed me about the vending machine that pukes out burritos. I like this thing Telemundo and I have going where we cover the same exact stories and I am asked to say phrases in Spanish that I don't know. It's like we're distant relatives who only see each other when someone in the family dies.
I spoke to one more man on the train; the only one who I felt was somewhat attractive. His name was Michael, and he was extremely flirtatious. As soon as he spoke, I sensed that he was one of those guys who reads pick-up artist books, and mastered the art of "negging." He said something about my cell phone cover, and asked me the story behind it. I said that I bought it on sale for two dollars and he was like, “That's not a story! Girls are supposed to have stories behind the things they buy!” Which is probably the strangest stereotype I have ever heard about women. We spoke for maybe four minutes, and in that time the train got way more crowded (i.e. three more people boarded.)
Not only was this my first time speed dating, but this was my first time speed dating on a train, and definitely my last. I assume regular speed dating is a lot more organized. On this train however, people could sit by themselves and not talk to anyone. These were the people I was jealous of. Or, they could just stay sitting next to one person for as long as they like (even if the other person doesn't like it).
Two women near the front were sitting next to each other and giggling about how silly it all was. It reminded me a lot of a middle school dance, where girls wait for boys to come and talk to them and as they wait they giggle about stuff. Michael and I talked a little longer, and he told me he found out about this from Google searching “Anti-Valentine's Day” activities. This event was definitely Anti-Valentine's Day, but not intentionally. We ended our conversation when I asked him what kind of band he's in, and he literally said that he is in an acapella group with acoustic instruments. “We're like Fall Out Boy meets Glee”. LOL, bye Michael.
I decided that I should get off the train and see what another train was like. Preferably a train that would take me back home. I got off at MacArthur Park station and waited ten minutes. The next train that came was even more pathetic. There was only six of us, and no one else boarded throughout the whole ride back to North Hollywood. I spoke to a 19-year-old boy whose name I forgot, and after 30 seconds of me trying my best to force more horrible small talk, I just gave up and stayed silent.
When we got to North Hollywood, I immediately got off the train, bought myself a slice of pizza (as a means of apologizing to me for putting me through that), and am now making plans with friends to get drunk out of my mind tonight. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!