It's been a while since the last roll call of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) Book Club, an impromptu reading club whose only membership requirement is to read a book while riding public transportation. At first I used the excuse that people weren't reading as much, which may be partially true, but more likely, I have been too preoccupied with MARTA's new code of conduct initiative called Ride with Respect. I am hoping Ride with Respect comes with a new video maybe with an Aretha Franklin soundtrack and replacing the current lame safety video, which features a mascot recruiting commuters who lack the common sense not to stand near doors, or jump in front of buses and trains, to join a rhythmically challenged dance team at the CNN Center station.
I always say that I see more instances of civil behavior on MARTA than I do boorish behavior like smoking, drinking, eating, begging, spitting, littering, panhandling, threatening, or playing loud music. But in the occasional case of incivility, I just focus a little more on my book, which this week has been Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union (2007).
What makes me a little nervous is that if the new conduct code is successful what other kind of codes could be implemented next? For example, what if MARTA puts into effect a Napoleonic Code, which would forbid riders' privileges based on birth. (No prime reserved seating by the door for seniors anymore.) Enforcing the eye-for-an-eye, a tooth-for-a-tooth, Code of Hammurabi could be a lot more messier than just a little spitting or littering. The Code of the Samurai, which is centered on frugality (since MARTA riders already got that), loyalty and mastery of the martial arts doesn't sound so bad. I would jump at an opportunity to carry a Samurai sword umbrella (shown here) on the train. Kidding aside, the MARTA Club biggest fear is that the MARTA administrators will enforce The Code of the Woosters, where riders can read only the works of P.G. Wodehouse while using Atlanta public transportation.
And you can see why. Just browse this list of what people have been reading on MARTA public transportation lately. It may be brief, but its diverse.
The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life by Paul Davies
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson
The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection: No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Booty Call by ??? (Did you know that Booty Call is a very popular title for a book?)
Locked Down: Information Security for Lawyers by Sharon D. Nelson, David G. Ries and John W. Simek.
The Racketeer: A Novel by John Grisham
Every Day a Friday by Joel Osteen
Deadly Harvest: A Detective Kubu Mystery by Michael Stanley
Pathophysiology: Concepts of Altered Health States by Carol Mattson Porth and Glenn Matfin
A Piece of Cake: A Memoir by Cupcake Brown
Look Back All the Green Valley: A Novel by Fred Chappell
Merge /Disciple: Two Short Novels by Walter Mosely
The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst