We spent 12 hours riding the People Mover so you don't have to 

A dizzying day in Detroit

On Aug. 1, 1987, Virgil Knaf drove from the suburbs into Detroit to ride a monorail system that opened that day. Dubbed "the People Mover," the maligned project was millions of dollars over budget, opened two years later than expected, and basically everyone hated it.

Everyone, except Knaf. Breathlessly optimistic about the People Mover, Knaf told the New York Times at the time, "This is better than the New York subways. At least you can see where you're going."

In hindsight, over a quarter-century later, virtually everyone in metro Detroit would agree that Knaf's point was overstated. Few see any purpose in the 2.9-mile endless loop that perpetually hovers above Detroit's Central Business District. Yet it manages to serve the exact purpose it was intended: to successfully shuttle tens of thousands of people around downtown Detroit at any given moment.

If anything, the People Mover has earned an unfortunate reputation as a boondoggle, when it was never meant to be a standalone initiative. Back in the 1970 and 1980s, plenty here wanted public transit; an Associated Press story from December 1977 declared it was "full steam ahead for mass transit" in Detroit.

At the time, it seemed like that was the case: Then-President Gerald Ford plopped $600 million on Detroit's table and said to make it happen.

Plans were floated to construct a subway line underneath Woodward Avenue into Royal Oak, which would've veered off to the northeast and eventually link up with an existing commuter rail line between Pontiac and Detroit. Amtrak wanted to run a commuter rail system between Joe Louis Arena and Ann Arbor, with 11 trains running daily. City planners looked at the bay area of the Joe Louis Arena parking garage and visioned it a perfect spot to land a commuter rail line.

A light rail line was intended to run along Gratiot Avenue as far northeast as I-94. An additional commuter rail line was planned between Port Huron and Detroit. Additional light rail lines would stretch into the suburbs along various arteries, bridging downtown and the suburbs once again. In concert with the bus systems in place, it was a blueprint for some connectivity in the region that, on paper, would allow an average Joe to jettison the automobile. It would've been a start.

Things were looking good.

Then none of it happened. Elected officials couldn't agree on anything. The $600 million (more than $3 billion in today's dollars) offer was eventually revoked. The biggest boosters of the People Mover, however, forged on, deciding to extend the monorail into the Joe, where it loops back eastward toward downtown present day.

That's why the People Mover was never going to be a success. It was destined for failure, an ideal placeholder for the conservative Mackinac Center for Public Policy to call a waste of money, a "roller coaster for the rich." And yet, guaranteed, if you happened to catch a ride on a Friday night from Greektown Casino to, say, Grand Circus Park, chances are you'll hear somebody mutter something like, "God, it'd be great if this thing was extended into the 'burbs."

That last point — that is why, on a brisk fall day in late October, I decided to spend a day on the People Mover. I wanted to see if I was, in fact, out of my mind for once boringly declaring, "The People Mover is dead, long live the People Mover."

Yes, it's a costly piece of transportation that operates itself — but it is the foundation for something more. Even to this day, elected officials and planners seem hellbent on dropping nearly $1 billion to pour additional cement to widen our highways. For some context, that kind of money would buy the originally proposed $500 million light rail line on Woodward between downtown to 8 Mile Road, and then cover operation costs for years.

It gives one pause to consider what type of results the region would see if that same drive was established to construct a more efficient public transit system here — like, for instance, one that directly connects to the People Mover, as it was intended.

For instance, look at the efforts behind the 3.3-mile M-1 Rail streetcar on Woodward Avenue. Backers of that project fought like hell over seven years work to make it a reality. They clearly showed commitment to making an alternative transit project happen. Still, the project has been criticized by a number of observers as a parking shuttle of sorts for downtown employees and out-of-towners visiting the city. Yes, M-1 Rail will drop riders off at Grand Circus Park, where they can hop on the People Mover. But the transition isn't seamless: They'll have to exit onto the street and walk upstairs to the People Mover platform — and they'll have to pay an additional fare.

And if the streetcar, which is expected to open in fall 2016 runs as fast as its counterpart in Portland, Ore., a city M-1 Rail backers have highlighted during their mission to bring the Detroit project online, that might be cause for alarm: In 2013, the Oregonian found that, depending on the time of day and distance, one could walk faster to their destination than the Portland Streetcar.

In a nutshell, metro Detroit is years, if not decades, away from having an effective public transit system.

For now, besides the insufficiently funded Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) bus systems, the region has the People Mover. A simple question many have about the circular monorail: "Who rides it?" Does it really attract thousands of riders daily? (The Detroit Transportation Corp., which operates the manual, reports the People Mover carries an a daily ridership of 5,300 — most of which likely occurs on weekends, or during a Detroit Lions, Tigers, or Red Wings game. That works out to roughly two million rides annually.)

For that alone, it was worth the time to see what the system looks like during the day: I planned to spend 12 hours on the People Mover and the only places I could exit to use the restroom or eat something would be any stop that feeds directly onto a platform for the system. That would mean only Greektown, the Renaissance Center, the Millender Center, and Cobo Hall. I sat quietly, I chatted briefly, I gambled a bit, and thought aimlessly. It was, by all accounts, a long day.

6:58 a.m. — Armed with a bagel filled with a spicy red lentil spread, I call for a ride to the Fort/Cass Avenue station from my apartment. The weather bites, I'm not feeling too excited about anything at the moment, and I'm looking forward to whatever I might be eating for dinner. Finally, my ride arrives.

7:02 a.m. — Standing on the platform, I jot down a streaming list of questions that quickly hit my brain, in particular, one perhaps every People Mover rider has imagined while awaiting their automated vehicle to arrive: "Will I even get a chance to talk to anyone about anything?"

More importantly, I ask, "Where will I eat?"

I hear that beautiful screech, the grinding of metal on metal, and know that in moments, I'll be seated inside a warm vehicle because the People Mover keeps the heat rolling when it's cold outside.

7:03 a.m. — It's freezing inside. Immediately, the pre-recorded announcer hits the airwaves: "The next. Station. Is ... Michigan ..."

7:07 a.m. — A few stops later, an older black woman walks on. She's wearing black shoes. She crosses her legs, and huddles over her phone, a flip-phone, and says to me, "God bless you this morning." I politely nod my head and say, "Hello. "

"I passed my midterm on Wednesday," she says without a pause. She attends nursing school at Wayne County Community College. She tells me she scored "an eight." I don't think to ask if that's good or bad. She says something quietly to herself and then directs her attention toward me: "At least I'm trying to do something with my life!" I hope that wasn't actually a direct comment to me. She's wearing a long, dark blue jacket, a tan scarf, and has caramel skin and beautiful, striking eyes.

I ask her what her name is, and she says, "[inaudible] Porter." The People Mover is screaming bloody murder and I wish it would stop. I ask her again, and she simply says, "Ms. Porter." I tell her, "I'm Ryan."

"God bless you," she says, before asking me what I do for a living. I tell her I'm a reporter and that I've been tasked to spend a day on the People Mover. This doesn't draw the stupendous amount of laughter I anticipated from her. She says, "A news reporter? What station?"

It's not a station, I tell her. I work for a newspaper.

There's a long pause.

A Detroit transit cop hops on. Even though I've only been riding for mere minutes, I immediately consider if the officer is irritated that I'm aimlessly riding the People Mover in circles. I consider telling him my reason for partaking in something so taxing. I don't.

7:15 a.m. — I text my girlfriend, "I'm already going crazy." I realize that I said I wouldn't use my phone while engaged in this exercise of fun. I write down, "Rules: 1. Don't step foot onto, or into, any structure that doesn't directly feed into the People Mover, and, 2. Don't use your phone."

7:16 a.m. — We arrive at the Fort/Cass station and Ms. Porter gets up to leave. I wonder if I'll ever see her again. I realize the officer is actually a security guard and feel foolish.

7:20 a.m. — Grand Circus Park is currently being renovated due to the rehabilitation efforts at the David Whitney Building. So, the pre-recorded announcer says, "The next. Station. Is ..." and I realize he's meant to say Grand Circus Park. I realize now that he won't and that I'll have to listen to him say this broken, blank phrase on and off again for the next 11-and-a-half-hours.

The security guard gets off at the Times Square station, a woman gets on at the Michigan Avenue station, and I want to ask them questions, but I feel so tired that I can't imagine saying a word.

I jot down in my notebook: "need coffee" next to a miserably drawn coffee cup.

The vehicle keeps stopping for awkwardly long increments near the Broadway station. I wonder if this is the end. At Grand River and Farmer avenues, I notice a sea of people inside the YMCA throwing balls into the air. I assume this is for exercise.

7:23 a.m. — I'm starving. This is the first predicament of many I feel like I'll have today: Do I eat at Greektown or the Renaissance Center? The woman who hopped on at Michigan gets off. Total count of people I've seen on my ride so far: three.

At the Bricktown Station, a white man with a mop of red hair jogs up the steps to catch the train before it departs. He heads to the other cart. I decide to eat at the Renaissance Center.

7:35 a.m. — Standing on the platform of the Renaissance Center station, I admire the view of downtown. Whatever dissenters of the People Mover say, it unquestionably offers a lovely view of the central business district. I walk through the skyway into the Ren Cen and immediately consider how good a basic breakfast of eggs and hash browns with a piping hot cup of coffee sounds. Soon, I find out the Ren Cen doesn't have a Coney Island. Why did I ever think it did in the first place? There's something eerie about the Ren Cen at this time of the morning: With the illuminated walkways circling around the various towers of the building, it reminds me of some futuristic scene out of Brazil, or something. Everyone appears to be totally bummed out about being at work. I quickly realize my options for breakfast are limited and settle on McDonald's for what turns out to be one of the most depressing meals I've had in awhile.

7:42 a.m. — I order an Egg McMuffin without Canadian bacon, a hash brown, and a cup of coffee. It's nowhere near what I wanted. After finishing my meal, I sit and read and people watch for the next half-hour. A steady stream of men file into the food court dressed in junior CEO attire and they sit nearby and begin to laugh non-stop for reasons I can't quite hear. I make it a point to leave.

8:36 a.m. — I pass the Ren Cen's CVS, head back to the People Mover and hop on. At this point, there's actually some chatter on the train, with eight people on board, including me. Someone, inexplicably, says aloud, "Civilization is the accumulated culture of men," though I'm not sure who said it or who they're talking to.

After completing another rotation of the People Mover loop, each of which takes about 12-and-a-half minutes, a woman on her phone steps off at the Ren Cen platform and says, "No." She turns back around and steps back inside. She corrects herself again by saying, "Yes," and steps back off. This draws a laugh from everyone in the immediate vicinity.

8:45 a.m. — I realize I've lost track of what stops other riders hop on. I have no idea how many times I've gone around the loop. At some point, I'm alone again in the vehicle. A tiny black woman with a slight hunch in her back hops on. She immediately starts talking.

She says she'll turn 92 years old Feb. 23. I find it incredible she's moseying about downtown with ease. It reminds me of the older women I saw last year in Paris carrying baguettes off the subway walking at a snail's pace. But, they were still flying solo.

"Grandma seen many moons," she says. "One thing I know, in my next life, I'm not gonna have any kids." She tells me she has two daughters. She became estranged with both due to drugs, she says. I tell her I'm sorry about that. She says "whateva" a number of times.

"Hey, they don't bother me," she says. She offers a comment on my handwriting, saying it's awfully disjointed and sloppy. I agree. She stands up and prepares to leave. I forget to ask her name.

"You have a good day now," she says. "I'm on my way to Bingo — gonna win me some money!"

Traffic in downtown is backed up to a halt; I hear faint car alarms blaring in the distance. Nothing is happening on the People Mover.

9 a.m. — I let out a sigh because, as I put it in my notebook, "God damn, it has already been two hours."

I'm sitting inside a vehicle that has been wrapped by an ad for Fishbone's in Greektown. Where I sit, a freakishly cartoonish fish stares at me. The fact they placed the fish in a way riders can stare into its eyes, without any context whatsoever, is awful.

I notice a sign that says, for emergency assistance, to use, press red button "and speak slowly." It feels tempting because I have no idea who would answer and have so many questions to ask. I take a look at Joe Louis Arena as the vehicle whizzes by and agree with (just about everyone it seems) that it really is an ugly facility.

At the Fort/Cass station, I notice Louis Aguilar, a reporter for the Detroit News, walk off the other vehicle. Two transit officers are inside my vehicle. One of them asks a man dressed in an all-white suit with a goofy hat how he was doing. The man, apparently caught off guard, shouts, "I think I remember you from years ago!" It's unclear if he's certain about this.

9:25 a.m. — A guy wearing giant headphones on the third floor of the Madison Building near the Broadway Station is sitting on a windowsill while drinking a cup of coffee. I wonder if this is partly why Quicken Loans and its affiliated companies are rated as some of the greatest companies to work at.

I notice a guy decked out in Sons of Anarchy gear hasn't left the cart in one full rotation. I wonder if he's in the same boat as me, but as soon as I get ready to say something to him, he gets up and leave. And again, I'm alone on the cart.

9:30 a.m. — It seems like in most towns, you can tune out your surroundings when using the subway or bus or any public transit system. The People Mover, at many bumps and skips in the route, screams with a piercing screech every time it arrives at a destination — which is every 30 to 75 seconds.

9:45 a.m. — I'm starting to feel anxious and tired. I remember how I felt when I stood on the Fort/Cass platform nearly three hours ago. We pull up to a stop and I notice a sign that says, "Report any suspicious activity." It feels like I would appear as suspicious.

We pass by the Times Square station and I think of every bad joke I've ever heard from some out-of-towner who quips, "Times Square! In Detroit? HA!"

I wonder how many people were living in Detroit when the People Mover opened. (Somewhere between 1 million-1.2 million.)

I finally notice the loud buzz I've been hearing for the last 20 minutes: The speaker is playing a continuous loop of feedback between announcements. As the cart hits every nook and cranny of the monorail track, the feedback hops with it. It sounds like something off a Sonic Youth album, maybe.

In the distance, I can see white smoke billowing out of the Marathon refinery. I think about 48127. I realize I have to use the bathroom and settle on Greektown Casino.

10:37 a.m. — Shuffling through a casino during the morning on a weekday feels rather odd. The place is emptied out. I grab a cup of coffee and decide to play video blackjack. What the hell. Within minutes, I'm up $40. A man who appears to be a worker at the casino sits in a chair three down from me. He nods his head and says "yep" every time I land a winning hand. He isn't playing right now. Soon after, I gather my winnings and head to a live table. Since it's a weekday, in the morning, I figure there'd be a $5 per hand table. There isn't, so I mistakenly settle on a $15 per hand table. I lose everything in three hands. I leave the casino.

10:59 a.m. — I realize I have $20 left in my wallet so I decide to head back to the video blackjack table. Don't take my word for it, because I'm sure these machines are rigged, but play the $5 per hand video blackjack table from the farthest seat on the left. The video dealer hands me blackjack after blackjack.

An older group of white women walk by and one exclaims to her friend, "I can smoke here!"

Soon, I'm up $85 and feel it's best to just leave.

11:30 a.m. — I get back on the People Mover and can't believe I've been doing this for nearly five hours now. A diverse group of seven kids who appear to be either in pre-school or kindergarten hop on the vehicle with two adults. They're pumped to be riding the People Mover.

I make note of the vehicle's interior: There are 32 seats, four of which pull down. There are 16 spaces for ads along the sides near the ceiling, with two additional spaces on each end. I'm sitting in vehicle No. 9; there are 12 total in the system. There are 15 poles strung about the vehicle for people to grab onto.

Some downtown employees are coming aboard to, I assume, grab lunch. The People Mover has three purposes: Get to work, grab lunch, and shuttle people to Bingo.

12:22 p.m. — I know I only hopped back on the system minutes ago, but I need to use the bathroom, again. The vehicle is approaching Cobo, and I don't see any other reason to stop at the convention center today, so I get off. During this time, the place feels cavernous. I head to each floor, and it's all the same: long, vast stretches with few bodies, if any at all. I spend the next half-hour perusing the building, but find there's nothing nearly as interesting to look at like there is on the People Mover with Detroit's beautiful architecture spanning the entire loop.

I head back to the platform, located on the fourth floor. As I make my way toward the escalator, I notice a plain sign printed out from a computer that says "People Mover" with an arrow pointing upward. It's taped near the bottom of the escalator. It feels like a symbol for this region's feelings on the People Mover.

1 p.m. — I'm sitting on vehicle No. 11, and it's unreal how cold it is. I hear the sound of what seems to be a heater, move closer to it, and am sorely disappointed to find it's nothing but a loud rumbling part of the cart I'm on.

An older man wearing a ski cap, sunglasses, and dressed entirely in black reads a copy of the Detroit Free Press.

The sound of the vehicle as it makes its turn toward Joe Louis is spectacular. It's so excruciatingly loud it becomes difficult to think about anything other than the screeching sound of metal.

1:19 p.m. — At the Michigan Avenue station, a young guy wearing a pea coat gets on my vehicle. I ask him his name and why he's riding the People Mover in the middle of the day. He says he's Jacob Johnson, from Flint, and he's here for the Youmacon anime convention happening later in the week at Cobo and the Ren Cen. I now understand why I saw scrawny white males bouncing around the Ren Cen earlier this morning. He says it attracts 12,000 people annually.

The People Mover is "a good way to get around at least for events like that," Johnson says. "I like that it's scenic, I mean, you get to see a lot of stuff that you otherwise wouldn't get to see walking on the ground." He recently graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a bachelor's degree in English. At the Ren Cen, he departs, telling me to be on the lookout for all the "geeks and nerds" walking around downtown this weekend.

1:30 p.m. — I jot down two points: There are more parking garages in downtown than I remember, and, surprisingly, I've only experienced one complete rotation so far where there hasn't been anyone else on the vehicle.

2:04 p.m. — One of the transit officers I've seen a number of times comes aboard, again. This time, I feel I have to tell him what I'm doing. He laughs, hard, and says not to worry about it. I try asking him some questions, but he says employees are supposed to direct any media inquiries to a spokesperson for the system. Still, he tells me a point I never considered: The People Mover is one of the safest transit systems in the country. And, the way he puts it, he says he comes face-to-face with more riders on a busy weekend than your average cop might in his or her entire career. (Perhaps that's the case if we're talking about cops in, say, Greenville, Mich.)

2:12 p.m. — I check the time somewhere between the Cobo Hall and Joe Louis stations, and in between the tunnel connecting each. My iPhone's WiFi menu pops up, asking me if I'd like to connect to a local network. The only choice on the list? "The Love Shack."

2:15 p.m. — I, depressingly, arrive back at the Ren Cen to grab a bite to eat. As soon as I step off the vehicle and head down to the skywalk, I come face-to-face with a giant squirrel. Neither of us move. I take a step toward the squirrel, and it still doesn't move, so I begin to think I'm doomed. I slowly tiptoe away, maintaining eye contact with the creature until he finally decides to scatter off. I realize this has been the highest point of excitement in my day. Inside, I grab a black bean burger, a bag of Better Made regular potato chips, and a Diet Coke from Presto Gourmet Deli.

2:54 p.m. — Annoyingly, I have to use the restroom again, so I head back to Greektown. After eight hours, I'm starting to feel dizzy riding this thing in circles. On the casino's main floor, I stare outside the door onto Beaubien Street and wonder why I've set this arbitrary rule that I can't step outside. It doesn't appear to make any logical sense, but I stick with it anyway.

3:25 p.m. — As the vehicle passes by the Ren Cen for what seems like the 60th time, I note that I feel low on energy, sad, kind of dejected, and wish I hadn't drank three cups of pop today. My stomach feels awful.

I make a list of the seediest People Mover stations, in no particular order:

Bricktown

Fort/Cass

Michigan

Millender Center

Times Square

Joe Louis Arena

Cobo Hall

Financial District

Broadway

Greektown

Cadillac Square

Grand Circus Park

Renaissance Center

3:42 p.m. — We roll by the Compuware Building and I note that I'd like to try 7 Greens Detroit Salad Co. Greektown appears to be the most populated station. I make a list of the most used People Mover stations, again, in no particular order, because I'm simply guessing:

Greektown

Renaissance Center

Grand Circus Park

Joe Louis Arena

Michigan

Times Square

Millender Center

Cobo Hall

Financial District

Bricktown

Broadway

Fort/Cass

Cadillac Square

I realize now I don't understand the strategic difference between the Cadillac Square and Broadway stations, unless you're trying to go to 7 Greens or Olga's Kitchen.

3:54 p.m. — Top five things people do on the People Mover:

Sit silently

Use phone

Talk with someone

Read

?

4:12 p.m. — I consider a possible story angle: What if the city demolishes Joe Louis Arena and expands the People Mover to 14th Street — or at least 12th and Rosa Parks? That new Quicken Loans facility is located right there; it would connect more of the Riverfront and Corktown to downtown. This would cost a fortune.

4:15 p.m. — It feels like this ride will never end. I wonder if anyone has considered why I'm voraciously scribbling in a notebook.

4:19 p.m. — I decide that my People Mover expansion idea is excellent and write down that I should find a way to pitch it to Dan Gilbert.

4:40 p.m. — I'm so sick of being on this goddamn thing.

4:55 p.m. — For the first time today, I notice a sign in a vehicle that says, "We're clockwise & even faster!"

Q: How much faster? (I check later, and the Detroit Transportation Corp. says the vehicles are equipped to reach maximum speeds of 56 mph. By comparison, some of Chicago's trains run as fast as 55 mph.

If Detroit had an equally efficient system like that along the Woodward corridor that could bypass traffic signals between downtown and Pontiac, a one-way trip would take roughly a half-hour; to Ferndale, it would take roughly 12-14 minutes. A system along Gratiot could get you from Detroit to Roseville in 15-17 minutes. A system along Grand River could get you from Detroit to Novi in 22-24 minutes.)

4:58 p.m. — "The Next. Station. Is ... Renaissance Center."

5:04 p.m. — I wonder what this story would look like if I wrote it entirely in the style of Mitch Albom. I write that down.

5:10 p.m. — I don't even want to try talking to anyone. It feels like I'm trapped inside a never-ending Vine clip. The People Mover feels like an old roller coaster from Cedar Point when it strides past Joe Louis. I guess the Mackinac Center was partially right.

5:24 p.m. — I decide to time how long it takes to get from each station to pass the time using the bulletproof method of counting off as "one Mississippi ... two Mississippi ..."

Financial District to Joe Louis Arena (1 minute, 33 seconds)

Joe Louis to Cobo (53 seconds)

Cobo to Fort/Cass (24 seconds)

Fort/Cass to Michigan (35 seconds)

Michigan to Times Square (30 seconds)

Times Square to Grand Circus Park (37 seconds)

Grand Circus Park to Broadway (33 seconds)

Broadway to Cadillac Center (29 seconds)

Cadillac Center to Greektown (50 seconds)

Greektown to ...

5:32 p.m. — ... a guy with gray hair held up in a ponytail who's wearing an obnoxiously baggy suit steps into the vehicle. He interrupts my counting and introduces himself, unprovoked, as Charles.

"I observed you today," he tells me.

At this point, I'm not in the mood for this shit. I feel exhausted.

"Oh, yeah?" I respond anyway.

"Yeah, you're the inspector aren't you?"

"Nope. I'm a reporter"

"Well, let me tell you what I observed you do and you tell me if I was accurate."

"OK."

"I saw you go up to a group of construction workers digging a hole and you told them to fill the hole," he says, adding I told these workers to fill the hole "again and again and again and again and again and again and again."

"That wasn't me."

"I'm sure it was you," he says.

"I'm sure that's something an inspector would do."

"No, this was a reporter pretending to be an inspector," Charles insists.

Charles gets up to leave and keeps talking to (at?) me, quoting scripture from Corinthians — something about a child and a spade?

Did he mean to tell me this specific quote? Everyone in the vehicle looks at me like I provoked Charles to talk. After nearly 11 hours on the People Mover, I find this annoying.

5:42 p.m. — What if, when the pre-recorded announcer says, "The next. Station. Is ..." but doesn't finish the sentence because he's referring to Grand Circus Park, which in the course of this day remains under construction, and the People Mover vehicle just flies right off the track and falls onto Woodward Avenue.

I realize it's still rush hour, and there are two people inside the vehicle besides me.

5:51 p.m. — I count my change and decide to get a drink at Coach Insignia inside the Ren Cen because everyone deserves to enjoy that view at least once. When I arrive, I try to take photos going up the elevator, but they're all blurry and terrible. Feeling uncomfortably tired, I order a beer, and I don't write down the name or make a mental note what I'm drinking at all. It tastes refreshing and, for a moment again, I feel alive.

6:27 p.m. — I can almost taste the air on Fort Avenue. Only 30 more minutes. I draw a picture of a circle that I turn into a person who, according to the cartoon bubble I included, is saying, "Help."

6:37 p.m. — A woman says to her two companions, "Let's just keep going in circles! It's only like 10 minutes." If only she knew.

6:40 p.m. — This trio won't stop making bad jokes about the People Mover. I really want to know if Charles was a lawyer. It'd likely be a riot to watch him argue a case.

6:52 p.m. — It feels like I could barf from the food I ate earlier. For whatever reason, the Weezer song "Island in the Sun" comes to mind, and I realize how it appropriately describes my circumstances. In my head, I hear Rivers Cuomo chirp the simplistic refrain in the song of "hip, hip."

6:58 p.m. — I say to the hell with it, and end my day a few minutes early. I get off at the Fort/Cass station and make a call for a ride back to my apartment. I feel winded, and I want to take a nap. Even after a maddening 12-hour day on a continuous loop, the effort gave me pause: How nice would it be if I was able to efficiently take public transit to work every day in 20 minutes or less? How pleasant would it be, instead of having to avoid aggressive drivers and always getting stuck in traffic jams, to kick back and relax, while someone else does the driving for me?

More info about the People Mover can be found at thepeoplemover.com. Fare for one ride is 75 cents. A monthly unlimited ride pass costs $10. Hours of operation are 6:30 a.m.-midnight, Monday-Thursday; 6:30 a.m.-2 a.m., Friday; 9 a.m.-2 a.m., Saturday; noon-midnight, Sunday. — mt

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