Tru Nguyen works at Giant Robot and we’re proud to say that she is a public transportation rider.
Tru Nguyen, 27, Retail worker
How do people react when they find out that you don’t even have a license?
People reassure me that driving is easy and it just takes getting the hang of. My sister likes to say that if it were hard then there wouldn’t be so many stupid people driving on the road. A couple of people have told me that they can’t believe that anyone walks in L.A. but in my opinion drivers just act like there is no such thing as pedestrians.
Do you want to learn to drive?
Not particularly, I only got my first driver’s permit last year. I’ve been meaning to schedule driving lessons but it isn’t a priority of mine. On the other hand, my siblings got their permits and licenses as soon as they were old enough.
How do you think your life would be different if you owned a car?
I’d have more flexibility regarding where I can live and work. When I moved last year, I wanted to be within a 30-45 minute bus ride of work with no more than one transfer if necessary. This meant I had to dismiss certain neighborhoods to live in. Getting home at night can be an obstacle since some buses run less often or change their routes at night. If I had a car, things would be easier if I wanted to drive somewhere on a whim or had an emergency.When I travel less familiar routes and neighborhoods I have to do a fair bit of planning so I don’t become stranded. It is a nice way to get to know the lay of the streets. It amazes some of my friends that I know the downtown area and Chinatown so well, but I’ve been taking long bus rides there since college (was an hour from UCLA/WLA) to check out bars to party or restock my Asian groceries. I’m no help in finding freeway on-ramps or remembering which streets are one-way there though.
What’s great about being carless in Los Angeles?
When I am on the bus I love watching the neighborhoods change as I ride through them: glossy boutiques and fancy iron gates give way to cozy ethnic storefronts and everything in between before I am swallowed by the soaring buildings of downtown, and eventually, even those give way to strip malls. I feel like I see more of the city rather than being forced to go around it by taking the freeways. You used to be able to see a little bit of L.A.’s character in the old murals along the freeway but many of them have been painted over rather than maintained. To me, the freeway is just a crowded expanse of asphalt bracketed by sound dampening walls. When I’m on foot in the neighborhood I can focus on taking in the sights and sounds and smells. I don’t have to worry about making sure my meter is fed or moving my car every two hours, and can meander about and pop in and out of shops and markets.
What do you think of the Import Car Scene?
I’m all for letting people follow their passions but it all seems pretty ostentatious when people load up their cars with oversized sound systems, excessive (illegal) window tinting, or gaudy trims and accessories. It is just adding more distractions to inattentive drivers anyway. I think that money could be better spent. I don’t really care about how fast a car can get to 60 mph or if it can break the sound barrier like some people do. For me cars are primarily a means to get from point A to point B. This is not to say that I can’t enjoy a car ride; for me it has to do more with the company and sights.