Jolly Trolley. Our adventure with public transportation.

Moving to Saint Petersburg was in part driven by a desire for a one-car lifestyle.  I wanted to walk to everything available.  If not walk, then take a bus.

Therefore, yesterday Jim and I decided to take the St. Petersburg Central Trolley from downtown St. Pete, where we live, all the way to Pass-a-Grille Beach at the Southern edge of St. Pete Beach.  The ride was expected to last about an hour.

We toted along two umbrellas, one water bottle, and Bronson’s phony service dog vest. Our little family walked four blocks to the trolley stop.  We boarded the bus, paying $1.10 per person senior fare.  I asked the driver if she needed to verify my senior status by seeing my ID.  She looked me up and down, peered directly into my face then laughed out loud.  So much for my “I certainly do not look my age” fantasy.

She inquired if Bronson was a pet.  I stated, “No, Service Animal.  Do you want him in his vest?”  She replied, “Nope, just need to ask.”

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Our Trolley Dog.

 

The trolley stops every couple of blocks in downtown St. Petersburg.  Most riders are dressed for the heat.  Tank tops, flip flops, shorts.  At 7th Avenue North we picked up a woman clothed unlike the other passengers.  She had on a broad black sunhat with a gold chain around the crown, lovely sheath dress, large gold beaded necklace, and heels.

I assumed it was her church outfit.  She held up the line attempting to swipe her card. The machine kept rejecting her pass.  A rider behind her recommended just paying the fare.

That’s when Church Lady went Linda Blair.  She screeched, “I’ll be damned if I’m paying again!  I paid too much for this damn card in the first place.” As she careened down the aisle her rant continued.  She plopped down in the back row, howled a few more choice words, then settled back in her seat.

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When she was behind us I pretended to take a selfie.  Florida is a concealed carry state.  I didn’t intend to get myself shot by a demented trolley passenger for taking her photo.

Titters all around, surreptitious glances at other riders, and off we went.  For some reason, CL decided to move a row forward.  She sat in the seat opposite Jim’s.  I considered another photo but could picture her reaching into that big green bag and pulling out a Colt 45.  Left my phone on my lap.

About five stops later a somewhat stoned but harmless looking young man boarded.  He snoozed a few blocks, then climbed off the bus.  I watched as he began to walk away. Suddenly he turned, chased the bus and pounded on the windows.  Everyone was alarmed until it became apparent he was stopping the trolley for two bikers who would otherwise have missed it.

As they loaded their bikes to the front of the bus, Church Lady yelled, “Illegal!” She then held up her left hand, fingers outstretched in the universal, “Stop!” gesture.  I was amazed that several fellow passengers took her on, demanding she put her arm down and shut up.

Didn’t they know about the pistol in her tote?

Thereupon she marched herself to the front seat, glaring at anyone who made eye contact.

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A short while later she exploded again.  “I’m calling 911!  I’m having you locked up!  Arrested. Thrown behind bars. Put in jail.”  That guy in the yellow and blue shirt was nuts enough to demand she dummy up.  Several passengers behind me hollered at her. I hoped I didn’t get caught in the cross-fire.

Fortunately, she disembarked several blocks down the road.  The drama behind us.

We began watching for the “Pass-a-Grill Way” trolley stop.  Through Trip Advisor I’d identified The Brass Monkey on Pass-a-Grill as someplace to have lunch.  When the driver announced “Pass-a-Grill Way and 31st Street” I turned to Jim and said, “Do I pull the stop wire now?”

“Sure, why not.” he replied.

Here’s why not.  The Monkey Bar is at Pass-a-Grill Way and 8th Street.

We decided a walk would do us all good.  I pulled out my SPF 50+ umbrella and off we went.  After 4 blocks we realized walking in 90-degree heat was doing us no good at all.  At 26th Street we located a red and yellow Central Trolley stop sign.

Bronson and I hunkered down in a patch of shade while Jim patiently watched for the next bus.  The stench from Red Tide was sickening.  Few cars passed. And no trolleys trundled by for an half hour.

 

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Patient Jim, watching for the bus.

Eventually, we got a coach.  We were required to pay another $1.10 each.  But we wound up half a block from our destination.  The red tide smell was even worse so close to the sand so Jim requested a table indoors.  Many people were wearing masks.

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The place was busy with enthusiastic Buccaneers fans eager to see their team defeat the Eagles.

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We each ordered an adult beverage and food.  I love eating a very late lunch–at that point, it was 3:30.  It’s a trick allowing me to escape cooking dinner.  Following our meal, it was back on the trolley for home.  This time we didn’t make the mistake of pulling the “stop the bus” cord early.

Tonight we are headed to “Six on Seven” the regular Monday night gathering at six p.m. on the seventh floor.  I’ve got my mother’s meatloaf recipe prepared and ready to tuck into the oven as we walk out the door.  I’ve been making it for years.  It has two healthy tablespoons of horseradish mixed in.  Delicious.  And enough for leftovers tomorrow night.

So, good news for me, no cooking again tomorrow!