Like a Chinaman, of course! says my genlmn friend thereby proving himself neither gallant nor original!
But listen, little woman, and you shall learn how to get off from a car like a man and a brother!
We are traveling on the Daly Street line [Lincoln Heights], and I turn to the blue-coated Knight of the Trolley, who tells me just exactly how to get on and off a car . . .
To descend safely, face the front of the car, grasp the front railing with the inside hand and step free of the car with the outside foot.
To get on the car, take hold of the front railing with the hand toward the front of the car, raise the corresponding foot to the step, and you are safe.
Never get off a car on the outer side as it rounds a curve, as the motion is, of course, swifter on that than on the other side . . .
I do not so much blame women says he of the blue coat. You see, they have no pockets, and have to carry things in their hands, and then there are the long skirts. . . .
And they do much better out here than in the East. No, I dont know why.
I think I do. It is because more care is required of car men here than in the Eastern cities, where making time [keeping to a timetable] is of paramount importance.
Here in Los Angeles, when being helped on the cars, one is treated like a human being; in San Francisco one is handled like a meek domestic animal, and in New York and Chicago like a piece of baggage of a sack of meal! . . .
Out on a West End line, the Bilious Conductor collects fares. . . . Said he: No, no there is no teaching women how to get off a car correctly. I do not believe they will ever learn. . . .
I sat on that car beside a woman who was reading The Fate of a Life and chewing gum. . . . she had a pie beside her on the seat. . . . She dismounted in the usual way, backward, the car started up a little too soon, the Fate of a Life fell to the earth, . . . and the fate of a pie occurred a little to the left.
I saw the Fat Woman, too, that day she who grasps both handles and gradually and imposingly elevates herself to the car.
And the woman who takes hold of the handle and turns round to talk to her lady friend standing bare-headed on the pavement. The conductor swears, and she feels her day has not been wasted. The funerals of these do not occur often enough.
I saw the New Woman, too who invariably gets off the car while it is moving.
And the Shopping Woman, with her bundles, who steps onto the car and her dress at the same time, shifting her bundles to one arm, while she grasps the handle with the other hand and manages to hoist herself . . . while everybody looks contempt at a woman who would carry so many bundles home . . . .
And the dear little tippy-tilty girls, coming home from High School.
I do not know whether a woman hates worse to be told that she cannot sharpen a pencil or that she cannot board a car properly. She can do the former, you know, if you give her plenty of time and plenty of pencils, but the latter ? . . .
The trolley car is Americas own, along with the Gibson Girl. It is swift and sure and would hardly be recognized as belonging to the same generic family as the car of European cities, which is a double-decker and resembles a summer cottage on wheels.
And the oriental cities have the safest cars of all. They are drawn by two very undersized donkeys, and a native runs before them shouting, Warda, warda! which, being interpreted, means Get out of the way!