How To Get From San Diego To Carlsbad (In Four Hours)

It started out as a typical Football Sunday. Drinks at 9:30 in the morning, smashed by lunch, and screaming at the T.V. by the fourth quarter of the Hawks game (roughly 3pm). We had neglected to take our car into the shop since football season began, well past its 3,000 mile / 3 month due date. There was nothing notably wrong with the car to prompt our responsibility, we just thought it would be a good excuse to drink and drive.

Pause: I am just fucking with you. Drinking and driving is a horrible decision and should not be made light of. 

The evening proved to be a success. The Seahawks won, our car was fine, and no small children were plowed over during our four block drive home from the auto shop – for sport, maliciously, or by intoxicated accident. However, the engine was now making a weird clicking sound that it had not been making prior to our visit. We notified the body shop and scheduled to bring it in after work on Monday.

Sure enough – our flux capacitor was shot. No more traveling through time, and it was also suggested that we not drive it until it was repaired. Normally not much of a burden on myself because I work from home. But unfortunately, I did have a meeting 45 minutes away the following day at 11:00am. Thus, the chain of unfortunate events were set into motion. . . . .

I live in San Diego and to say it has urban sprawl would be an understatement. After doing some research on google – my 45 minute drive was going to be a two and a half our public transport or ridiculousness. That includes four changeovers, three buses, one train, and about a mile and a half of walking – in a suit.

Pause: It should be mentioned that I absolutely fucking hate wearing a suit. I would compare the way I feel wearing a suit to that of the way your adorable dog feels when he can’t stop licking his ass so you are forced to make him wear the cone-of-shame. For some unknown reason I feel humiliated – shamed – and of course restrained from licking my ass.

At 8:00 in the morning my journey began. If I wasn’t kicked out of the Cub Scouts when I was 12 for wielding a knife at my step-sister, I would have been an excellent Boy Scout. I cross-referenced the route (google and the city’s website), emailed the route to myself, wrote the route down, and had it pulled up on my phone. The first leg of my journey started at 8:30am at the train station. I was there at 8:10am, ready to buy my ticket.

This was the first “real” time that I had attempted to navigate the train system and I wasn’t fully aware of the intricacies that would later (in about 15 minutes) prove to shit directly on my face.

The phone, written version, and email all said that I should be taking the Surfliner north for 45 minutes. I walked under the first set of three tracks to the far side of the station to purchase my ticket. There are absolutely zero transit employees available to discuss my route decision with, leaving the ignorant (myself) to buy their ticket from a machine. I couldn’t find my destination on the screen and spent a few minutes looking at the route map to figure out which stop I needed. The map indicated that there were only two stops and neither were the one that corresponded with my route plan.

I checked my information again. It said that my train stopped at Encinitas. At this point I don’t know what the fuck is going on? I decided to move forward with the process and selected the destination that was closest to what I needed. Maybe not all the stops are listed?

As I punched in my selection it came up that the ticket would be $18.

What the fuck!? 18 fucking dollars!? Oh-my-fucking-God!

I double checked my information. Sure enough, it stated that the entire trip should cost me $12. This left me a little confused and short on time to figure things out. The only person that I could spot that ‘might’ have a chance of knowing what was going on was the transit security guy. Now I don’t like to judge a book by its cover. But – if I was the type to make a judgement call based on a person’s appearance, looking at this particular book, I thought I would be better served trying to search for a solution to my problem in the puddle of urine left by a bum the night before.

As I approached the $7.50 an hour waste of oxygen I noted that he was occupying his time by harassing a 15-year-old girl.

Dipshit: I need to see your ticket.

Girl: Why?

Dipshit: Cause I have the authority to ask you for your ticket.

Girl: Uggh….. rolls her eyes and digs in her pocket.

Dipshit then examines the ticket like a dyslexic child trying to read stats on the back of a baseball card.

Dipshit: See – cause if you don’t have your ticket you could get fined

Girl: But I have my ticket

Dipshit: Yeah (examines it again) just so you know it would be a $350 fine if you were caught on the train without your ticket.

Girl: ………………………Ok………..

Me: Excuse me…………excuse me…………..EXCUSE ME.

The transit cop must have just watched a John Wayne marathon the night before or the down syndrome was worse than I initially suspected.

He slowly moved his gaze from the girl to me in a downward motion, his eyes squinted, as if I had just challenged him to a duel at high-noon.

Dipshit: Yeah?

Me: I am trying to get to Encinitas. The website said I needed the Surfliner. Is that correct.

Dipshit: Encinitas – No, no, you need the Coaster (as he pointed)

Me: You are sure?

Dipshit: Postive.

I walked over to the Coaster machine and was surprised to see my destination available and at the time and cost I was expecting. Huh, I guess the handicap can severe a meaningful function in society.

I purchased my ticket and waited by the tracks. I let out a deep sigh, thankful that I figured out my ticket situation with five minutes to spare. I watched as the Surfliner pulled into the station, three tracks and a fence away, at the exact time I was suppose to catch my train. A sudden feeling of panic set in. I rushed toward the security guard and asked him if my Coaster ticket entitled me to get on the Surfliner.

Pause: The only time that I had taken the train before was to head up north to watch football and get smashed. On my way back, a slightly less moronic transit guard had helped me purchase my ticket and put me on the train. Which was a Coaster ticket and a Surliner train. Yes, I was that smashed that I required assistance and thus my confidence in doing this action again was. . . . fuzzy. 

I quickly asked him my question again as I intently stared at the train.

Me: You are 100% sure!?

Dipshit: No, no way. You can get a $350 ticket for that.

Realizing that I made a mistake by not digging through the urine I quickly ran back to the Coaster machine to check the schedule. Sure enough – there are two times that you can purchase Coaster tickets and use them on Surfliner trains – 8:30 in the morning and 10:30 in the morning.

Just as I turned to run toward the Surliner it took off. . . . . . even my inner Buddhist told me I should go kick the shit out of that fucking transit retard.

No Bret, I thought to myself. You cannot blame the illiterate for their shortcomings.

Illiterate – at this point I wasn’t sure if I was referring to the transit guard or myself?

My only other $5.50 option was at 10:30am – two hours from now. With the buses and walking I needed to do after the train, I would arrive at my meeting just after 2:00pm.  Three hours late. I wonder if anyone in our four person meeting (including myself) would notice?

I called my wife to complain, vent, and ask for guidance. Being raised a devout Methodist my initial instinct was to not go at all. Say fuck it and go home and watch SportsCenter. But Sally reminded me that this is work not church and we needed to keep me employed, I need to impress my boss, and money for us is as scarce as intelligent transit security guards.

I gritted my teeth and made my way back over to the Surfliner ticket machine. Thankfully there would be another train in 30 minutes and Sally was going to email me my new transfer itinerary. Not so thankfully – it was going to cost me $18.

Just as I was coughing up the $18 (on top of the $5.50 that I just paid for my “Coaster ticket”) an older lady came up to me and described the same problem that I was having. I explained to her the situation and even managed to refrain from using profanity. She was thankful for the help and also discouraged that she had to pay the additional $18.

Stranger: I’m from Australia, what’s your excuse.

My wife’s family is Australian and I have a slight affection for our English brethren from Down Under. So normally I would take the opportunity to engage in polite conversation and witty banter with a stranger such as this. But her comments couldn’t have come at worse time.

In an attempt to keep the anger in my eyes from turning into laser beams and melting her on the spot. I gritted my teeth, half smiled, and fake chuckled. I then did an about face and as I walked toward the opposite side of the train station to where she was standing I mumbled the only offensive Australian word I knew, just loud enough that she might here.

Me: Fucking wanker!

A text from my wife with my new itinerary reveled that I was only going to be about 20 minutes late. A relieved sigh escaped from the corner of my mouth as I plopped down onto the bench to wait for the Surfliner.

1 minute late.

5 minutes late.

10 minutes late.

Other passengers starting to grow concerned and checking their watches.

15 minutes late.

20 minutes late.

Oh fuck – there goes my revised itinerary. The bus numbers hadn’t changed, so rather than pestering my wife for yet another update to my travel plans, I decided to let this one play out and just grab the first bus I see when I get off the train.

The train rolled in 22 minutes late. I made my way to the second story and laughed to myself as I stretched my legs out for the 45 minute ride.

What a shitty way to start off my day.

It was a fairly sparse crowd, mixed of business professionals and young kids who appeared to be skipping school. The time was passed with one verbal disagreement between a passenger and ticket collector about the use of the four seats that are facing each other. In that they were reserved for groups of three or more and the girl (on her way to Vegas for the weekend wanted to sit there until said group arrived) and another verbal disagreement between a young girl and half of the train. She had her music playing on her phone and was asked to turn it down. She ignored the first request and that passenger moved to another train. The girl was then asked again by a different woman to turn her music down.

Woman: Excuse me, the entire train can hear your music. Would you mind turning it down.

Girl: I don’t got to turn it down. It’s not my problem if it’s bothering you.

Woman: Actually it is your problem, could you turn it down?

Girl: Nobody asked you to sit in this train car. You can move if you don’t like it.

This conversation went on for an amusing five minutes and escalated to the point that the woman went to fetch the ticket collector. The ticket collector told the girl to turn down her music in passing, which resulted in a 1/4 reduction. This resulted in none of the parties involved being happy with the outcome.

The woman then moved train cars.

I arrived at my final destination just as my meeting was getting started (11:00am). I saw the bus that I needed to catch and immediately jumped aboard. The driver proceeded to drive off just as I sat down.

I scoffed at the fact that I actually made it to one portion of my journey in a timely manner.

I asked the bus driver about where I needed to get off in order to catch my next bus. He told me he would give me the heads up, but I had it pulled up on my phone just in case. It was a quick 15 minute ride across town and just as I was jumping off the driver said I better hurry if I want to catch my bus. As I turned toward my objective I could see my bus pulling away from its stop.


I slowly walked to the bus stop to check the schedule to see when the next one would arrive. But the stop was just a pole in the ground and had no information about when I should expect another bus. I pulled it up on my phone and it said another bus should be there in 15 minutes. That puts me getting to my meeting 45 minutes late. . . .

I waited around, entertaining myself on my phone and day dreaming about when this day was over so I could get blindingly drunk. I was so caught up in my own thoughts that I didn’t notice that my bus was 5 minutes late. Panic mode set in again as I scrambled to get back to the bus schedule on google maps.

What the fuck? It said the next bus wasn’t going to be there for an hour?

Had I read it wrong?

I tired to look it up on the bus website but apparently they had decided to stop investing into modern technology after bubble burst. All I could do was email to their AOL account or send them a carrier pigeon.

I decided this was it. I was fucking done. I was not going to wait for an hour, on the side of the road, only to get to my meeting just as it was getting over. I looked left and right for my closest bar.

Just thinking about trying to get a bus back to the train station, hoping to catch the cheap train home, only to have my boss call me and ask “Where in the fuck where you?” struck my as annoying.

Fuck it. . . . . .

I googled a local cab company. While speaking to them they insisted that I can’t be “on the side of the road next to the mall” and expect to get picked up. So I walked a couple blocks up the street to the movie theater and gave them an address.

5 minutes.

10 minutes.

15 minutes.

As I look down the road I see a bus coming from the direction that mine was suppose to come from. Sure as fucking shit, it stopped at the bus stop where I was waiting. Running there would have been beyond pointless. I was at least a 4 minute jog away and the bus did a two second stop to appease procedures before taking off.

The salt had officially been poured into my wounds.

Just as I was about to call the cab company to ask them where in the fuck they were I received a call from an unlisted number. Assuming it was them I picked up.

Cabby: Hey what up man?

Me: Um, are you coming?

Cabby: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I will be there in 15 minutes.

Me: Fucking . . . . . awesome. . . . . . . .

I leaned against the wall of the movie theater in despair. The cabby was able to take me the 13 miles to my meeting for only $25. With the two train tickets, bus ticket, and now cab ride, my entire journey cost me $50. While causing me to get to my meeting an hour and twenty minutes late.

The are several lessons to be learned here. But I think the most important one is – don’t give up, and guess what? You can’t give up if you choose not to fucking do it in the first place! So I think the real take away from this story is – Fuck Public Transit!

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