Curious to see just how the tram spends its day, I spent this afternoon riding around and around in it, learning street names and engaging in random conversations. I talked to one girl who had driven to USC from St. Louis, and had wrecked her car in the same lightning storm in Kansas that compelled me to pull off the road. I also spent a long time talking to the bus driver, Francesco, who’s worked at USC for over 30 years. He knows everyone, waves at people as he passes, and greets many students by name. He hooked me up with some invaluable local info — events, places to eat, places to see, and tips such as that if I missed my tram, I could catch the other line just one street over. The tram does go by my apartment on a fairly regular basis, so I’m a bit perplexed that it never seems to show up when I’m waiting there. And apparently once class starts, there’ll be two busses doing half the route that the one bus was doing today, so maybe they will come every 15 minutes.
At one point, a residential street was blocked by a UPS truck on one side and a big SUV on the other. I was aghast when Francesco steered between them. It just did not seem physically possible that the bus (a full-sized city bus) could fit, but somehow it did. Maybe it’s like that bus in Prisoner of Azkaban. Later, as we drove down Figueroa, I noticed a visibly deranged individual glaring at us from the sidewalk. I thought to myself, Wow, I’m glad I have the walls of this bus between that guy and me. After a few minutes, I forgot about him. But on our next circuit, the guy was waiting for us and, very deliberately, dashed out in front of the bus, trying to be run over. Francesco slammed on the brakes and just barely stopped in time. The guy glared again, and ambled off.