Saturday, August 26, 2006

Against All Odds, Intrepid Cyclist Reaches Far-Flung Destination

It only takes about ten minutes to ride from my house to the Max station. That’s Portland’s subway system, only it’s not sub, it's above ground. I don't ride the Max often but when I do, I wonder who Max was and why he got a transportation system named after him. I did not actually find myself boarding a train until ten o’clock, so there went the first thirty minutes just on the house-to-train portion of the trip. You can take your bike with you on the Max, you just roll it right on. It took another thirty minutes, almost exactly, to reach the Gresham City Hall Transit Center stop, where the mangled piece of paper in my hand said to disembark.

From there it took me another 30 minutes to ride my bike to the courthouse. Not because it was really 30 minutes away, but because I had to extrapolate, as I went, the correct version of reality from a few lines drawn on paper, and that’s not my area of expertise. Give me a language to learn and I’ll know exactly what to do, but if you want me to get from point A to point B, now you’re taxing me way down at the molecular level.

I actually rode right by it at one point, but missed it because I spied a courthouse-shaped structure further ahead so I aimed right for that. It had a mansard roof and a cupola on top – what was I to think? But when I reached it I saw that it was only a faux courthouse with a brick veneer and snap-in window mullions that housed a bank.

Stumped, I decided to seek guidance from one of the indigenous people. From the meager selection of pedestrians available in this pedestrian-unfriendly landscape, I chose an extra-gnarly-looking one, thinking he would be the most likely to know the location of the courthouse. Sure enough, he perked up and came to life just like I would if a passerby asked me a question about why you can’t use an intransitive verb in the passive voice.

He directed me back the way I’d come. “You’ll see the Gresham Rifle Club alongside the Gresham Masonic Center and then you’ll come to it, right past Living Art Tattoos. It’s easy to miss. It’s a small, low building with a little tiny sign.”

So there I went and when I got right up close to it I finally spotted one of those green highway signs, under an overhanging tree branch, that said Circuit Court.

Here’s a picture of what I at first rode right past before I found the nice gnarly man to help me. If you look closely you can just barely decipher the Circuit Court sign sticking up behind the pickup, under the shrubbery there.

I entered the building seeing no other human life besides the security person until I came to a glass reception window with a young woman behind it. Apologizing for my lateness I explained that I was there for jury duty if they still needed anybody. She was so sweet. Very unlike the remarkably unsweet person I’d spoken to on the phone at 8 o’clock that morning.

“Well actually, all our cases for today went away, so if you like you can just turn in your badge here, and you’re free to go.”

So I rode my bike and the train back home, which now that I knew the way, took me an hour instead of an hour and a half.


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