Gag & Sputter
Apparently, here in the Land of Zion, the air quality is soooooooo bad that they are advising everyone, who can, to stay indoors and to avoid driving. Since I live in BFA (my daughter’s version of BFE, her’s being more G rated: Beyond Far Away) and I have no choice but to drive to work, I felt a tad guilty.
The drive from The Pillow to work starts out on the Southwest end of town and ends up almost center downtown. From the vantage point on the hill, when I pull out of the neighborhood, I could see the heaviness of the atmosphere clinging to the city. Split-pea soup gone terribly wrong laid on the air and even as I looked at it I felt an urge to swallow hard around the psychological gagging cough.
The city-big-wigs are brilliant, though. They have put out bulletins on the radio stations admonishing the citizens to be environmentally conscious and keep their cars in the garages. They have even gone as far as using the electronic traffic billboards along various points of the interstate to announce: Air quality poor (really? is that what this is?) Tomorrow limit driving.
I thought it was funny that the powers-that-be gave us a heads up that tomorrow we need to limit driving. Today it’s fine to drive. But tomorrow? Nah. Don’t drive tomorrow.
I was once told by a Hurricane Katrina reluctant transplant (who had been “unceremoniously plunked on a stinking bus and shipped to some godforsaken place called Utah – where the hell is that and don’t they have lots of wives there – and then dropped here without so much as a thankyouverymuch”) – who was also a flaming drag queen and oh so very proud of that fact (another story all together.) – that he lo-lo-lo-loved living in Utah because “you can get anywhere on the train.” Having lived here all my life, I begged to differ but did not want to burst his shimmering pink bubble.
Trax, as our “train” is called, is cool, yes. But is it a “mass transit, user-friendly, go-anywhere” sort of system? No.
A bit of background for those of you unfamiliar with the layout of the city… Wise ole Brigham Young and his buddies devised a numbered grid for the street layout of SLC. When you understand that every street has a numerical order, it’s very simple to get anywhere. The grid starts at, oh surprise, the Salt Lake LDS Temple – which is called “City Center” although it isn’t really in the center of the really bizare ellipse – and works north, south, east and west from there. The Temple is zero on every direction of the grid and works outward. The city sprawls from the Temple up to 2300 North and down to 17000 South; down to 9200 West and up to 4000 East before bumping into mountains at any of these points.
Trax runs the length of our fair city from the south (I have never taken a Trax ride all the way south. I don’t know where it terminates. Hmmm… maybe that is an adventure for this weekend???) and ends in the North at the Delta Center, which is near the Temple, just west of “dead center” of the lopsided city grid. The city planners wisely also completed the length of tracks up to Rice Eccles Stadium at the U of U just in time for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Since that year, that has been all we have had as far as “the train” tracks go. After that lengthy background bit, I am hoping you can see why I disagree with the Drag Queen’s effervescent gushing about being able to “go anywhere” on the lameass Trax system that only runs from north to south.
Public transportation here is expensive AND it sucks. When my former husband first moved here from Seattle – which has a kickass metro/bus/cab system – about 17 years ago, he was dumbfounded how all these people could be living in such a huge space with no way to move them around other than in individual cars. And me, having lived here all my life, understood that my city planners planned for the Now, not the future. Thus, our freeway systems are obsolete before they are started. Our Trax system is overloaded the first day it is opened. Our roads are always needing repair. On and on and on.
So, as I gagged on the poor air quality on the way in to work today, I looked around me at all of the other people who were driving and adding to the poor air quality and I thought… perhaps it’s time for Utah to plan ahead. Perhaps if they start now then, in 25 years when they get to an agreement on something, it will be way ahead of the population because we will all be dead!