Dallas Morning News LGBT Oak Lawn

Drag queens and buses

July 25, 2016
Asia O'Hara at Station 4 / Rose Room

Last week I started my new job and it was exhausting.

Moving to The Dallas Morning News was a dramatic change for me.

Back in Minnesota, I worked on a 7,000-person suburban corporate campus. The Thomson Reuters campus was so huge that I had law school classmates who worked there for years before I ran into them. It was also common not to recognize anyone in the hallways if you didn’t work in that part of the building.

Since moving to Dallas, I worked from home and didn’t see coworkers in-person unless I was visiting a client’s office.

Now, I go to a downtown office every day. It’s nice being back in a real office because working from home started feeling like being under house arrest. I also had clients in every time zone, so there wasn’t a clear end to the work day.

My new office environment is also a big change because my new coworkers recognize me as “the new guy” and actually introduce themselves. (This doesn’t happen at a mega-corporate campus.)

Getting to work has been quite the adventure. I live exactly 3 miles from the office, so I figured that I could just hop on a bus to downtown Dallas. (Which is a beautiful place to work by the way.)

The Pegasus statute in front of the downtown Dallas Omni Hotel.

The Pegasus statute in front of the downtown Dallas Omni Hotel.

Downtown Dallas

Exploring downtown Dallas in summer

Downtown Dallas during summer.

A hot dog walk in downtown Dallas

The problem is that the most direct bus drops me off a half-mile from the office. We frequently take 7 mile dog walks in the morning, so a half-mile isn’t that far to me. However, walking a half-mile in work clothes when it is 100 degrees outside is …sticky. I walk into the office covered in sweat most mornings.

Also, the downtown bus platform is scary – there are plain-sight drug deals going on in the afternoons, and intoxicated people there at all hours. This afternoon a drunk guy was actually running up to idling buses and opening the side emergency compartments.

In addition to the sketchiness, busing is terribly inefficient. It shouldn’t take 35 minutes to commute 3 miles, even in Dallas traffic. The train is even worse – it’s a 1 mile walk from the apartment and drops me off at the same sketchy platform which is a half-mile from the office.

In the evening, the bus schedule is completely blown.

One day, I thought the bus never showed up and took an Uber home. The next day, I was about to call an Uber again when my bus showed up (25 minutes late!) In addition to traffic, drivers illegally parked in the bus lanes completely delay the route. The roads in Uptown are also not made for buses, parked cars, and massive trucks. There are several close-calls every day.

I might just suck it up and start driving to work. Or biking?

The inefficient public transit commuting was particularly difficult during my first week because I was covering the Miss Gay Texas America pageant at night. Like every drag pageant, it dragged on far into the evening (like 2 or  3 a.m.) which meant that I was extremely sleep deprived all week.

The extra work was worth it though – The Dallas Morning News / Guidelive had the best coverage of the pageant in town.

Asia O'Hara at Station 4 / Rose Room

Asia O’Hara at the Miss Gay Texas America pageant at the Rose Room / Station 4 in Oak Lawn.

This is really important because Dallas has one of the largest gayborhoods in the country, but it typically only gets covered in the non-gay press 1) during pride, 2) when there are muggings, or 3) when we are marching/protesting in response to hate crimes. This time, one of the largest newspapers in the country was covering the gayborhood for something positive, which was important to many of my neighbors.

Plus, I suspect that our coverage of the pageant pressured some of the other media outlets to cover it as well. All of the major publications in town covering a drag pageant is amazing. Hopefully we can replicate that type of attention for other positive gayborhood stories in the future.

This week I am getting way more rest, and hopefully not getting mugged during my commute. Perhaps there’s another news story there. (But hopefully not.)

Check out my stories from last week:


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