As the appointed time for the senator’s appearance approached, photographers, cameramen, a few TV reporters and a number of onlookers who figured something must be happening began to pace along the sidewalk outside the San Pablo Metro station. I sat on the edge of a bench, clutching a borrowed tape recorder and a very unprofessional camera. The longer I waited, the more nervous I became; what if I couldn’t form a coherent Spanish phrase when it was my turn to ask a question?
My problem, it turns out, was solved for me. As soon as the senator arrived, he was buried beneath an exoskeleton of television cameras and people with real microphones. I was quickly relieved of my naivety and realized that there were no turns here. Still, I nudged and permisoed, usually to be motioned back by a photographer whose shot I’d spoiled. I clung to the edge of the media clump, too far back to hear what the senator was saying but hoping that my tape recorder, which I’d shoved as deep into the microphone mass as my arm could reach, would salvage some of his words.
I don’t know if any of the networks present actually aired the footage, but if they did,
When I replayed the senator’s comments at work the next day, I decided not to write the article I had gone to
I decided that I hadn’t and that I had to change the focus of my article. Having interviewed a number of commuters at the station before the senator’s arrival, I had plenty of other material to draw from. What about a report based on the comments of people who actually use public transportation on a daily basis instead of those who show up for a photo op and a round of political criticism every once in awhile?
As much as I appreciated the comments that people on the street were willing to give to a strange girl with an accent and a tape recorder, I soon realized that they weren’t enough to base an original article on. The citizen outcry surrounding Transantiago has, of course, already been done as well. The people I interviewed—except for one who told me I’d better put my tape recorder away before someone stole it—all expressed the same general idea: Transantiago sucks, and we’re mad about it. It’s a sentiment that I—a frequent Transantiago user despite my newly acquired status as a bike owner—can empathize with but which, alas, has already been said, written about and read as well.
That left me with the comments offered by someone who had been at
Here was something new, at least in comparison to the rest of what I’d heard. Commuters have complained and politicians have claimed to complain for them, but what of those whose contact with public transportation is of a different nature altogether?
I don’t claim to be the first person this idea has occurred to. In fact, I’m sure a few minutes of Google searching would turn up ample proof to the contrary. Still, I like to flatter myself and think that no one’s written an article in English about it yet, even though I might be giving myself way too much credit on that front as well.
So it was that I set out from my apartment on Saturday afternoon, once again toting a tape recorder and a camera. I was off to