Wednesday, August 31, 2011

TRAFFIC ANALYSIS SOFTWARE NOT NEEDED

(8/29/2011)

I'm sure a sophisticated traffic modeling program would corroborate what I experienced this morning. But I don't think it would be necessary.

When the bus I'm on is trying to get off the freeway on University Parkway, and the traffic is blocked past Orem Center St. (that's 13 blocks, for those of you who don't have the map of Orem memorized), I can tell something's wrong.

telecoms.com

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

SO I GOT A BYU BUS PASS

So I got a BYU bus pass. It was $164 for the semester. (It was $214, but BYU will knock off $50 from the price of your pass if you buy a semester pass.)

That's a little over half the $300 you would have to pay for four months of a regular pass at $75/month.

So, yeah, it's still a pretty decent discount.

As long as I don't remember that it was $40 last semester . . .

Monday, August 29, 2011

ALMOST MIDNIGHT

At 5:35 a.m. today, when I emerged from my bedroom in preparation for the long trip to school, it became apparent that the power had gone off at some point last night.  This was because the oven clock was flashing.

When I checked it against my phone, however, it became apparent that the power had gone off at almost midnight, because the time flashing on the oven was only two minutes off the time on my phone.

Of course, my tired little brain had to figure out that the power must have gone off at 12:02 a.m., to be exact, and I wasted valuable time I could have spent eating.  Oh well.  I still caught the bus in time.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

SLUG B . . . OH, WAIT . . .

Earlier this week, due to a fortuitous circumstance that involved my receiving a text message when I happened to be nearby, I went on a short jaunt with a couple of my former roommates at University Mall.  These fine gentlemen, who never tire of playing "Slug Bug," were playing it in the car, so naturally I hit them whenever I saw a bus (trust me, it's highly natural).

At the end of our shopping excursion, my old roommates dropped me off at the Transit Center (it's a long drive . . .).  There were several buses parked at the TC, so, naturally, we began hitting each other again.  "850!" "832!"

The only problem was that, try as I might, I couldn't see a number on the bus behind the 850 and 832.  So I forbore one last hit and got out of the car.  As I walked across the terminal, I looked to see if I could see what number it was.  Turns out the screen was broken, and there was a piece of paper taped to the window that said "833" on it.

Ah, I thought.  That'd do it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

SPOILED

It's that time of year . . . you know, the one where you get on a bus and it's full of people in the highly-sought-after 18-25-year-old demographic, and you realize, hey, school's starting.

BYU hasn't started yet, but it appears the U has, because I'm sure seeing a lot of college student types lately.

A couple of days ago, as I sat amongst the likely college students on the 220, I heard two of them talking about the new TRAX lines.  "Yeah, everyone's pissed about the changes they made.  There's no direct line from the University to downtown anymore.  You have to get off and wait, and it takes FOREVER to transfer."

Sorry, but . . . somebody call the Wambulance.

In the first place, everyone's not pissed.  I'm not pissed.  I'm part of everyone, I think.

In the second place, it's true that there is no direct train from the U to downtown.  But did you know the bus you were ON goes from the U to downtown?  That's right, the 220, as well as the 2, 3, 6, 11, 228, and 455 all visit both the U and the heart of Salt Lake.  Not that all of them go in a straight line, necessarily, but there are still several very viable options for getting to where you're going.  *Ahem* I believe you've just been owned.

In the third place, it doesn't take FOREVER to transfer, it takes five minutes.  There are three TRAX lines.  They each come every fifteen minutes.  On the part of the line where they all intersect, they are spaced five minutes apart.  Five minutes may seem like a long time to someone who is used to patronizing UTA's best service, but you should really try going to Provo sometime.  Yesterday I got to the Sandy Civic Center TRAX station only to find that I had 33 minutes to wait for the next 811.  Waah.  I, and the other thirty or so people who were waiting for the 811, dealt with it calmly.  No tears were shed.  No complaints were filed.  Everyone eventually arrived in Provo at peace with the universe.

Anyway, I think I've made my point.  Some people are spoiled.  Don't get me wrong, I'm glad UTA spoils some of its riders.  But until we all get spoiled, no complaining from the spoiled people.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

GYM CONUNDRUM

What with my living so far away from school and all, I have realized that I now face an awkward choice about how I shall attend the gym, or, more specifically, how I shall reconcile my gym-induced dirtiness in the mornings.

Do I go to the gym, work out, change into my regular clothes and walk around stinky all day with my gym clothes marinading in my backpack?

Or do I go to the gym, work out, shower, change into my regular clothes and walk around clean all day with my gym clothes and a damp towel marinading in my backpack?

bbc.co.uk

I can't feasibly carry two bags with me all day, and going to the gym after I get back from school in the evenings will lead to tiredness and crankiness, due to the need to arise very early the next day.  If anyone has any other suggestions for plan C, I'm in.

Monday, August 22, 2011

NAUVOO IS BETTER IF YOU TAKE A BABY

This past March, commutergirl and I got married!  Yay!

Last week, commutergirl's brother got married!  Yay!

Then we had an open house for both of us, and by both of us, I mean the four of us!  Yay!

I've been in Illinois all week, which is part of the reason my posts have been more disquisitional than anecdotal.  The other part is that the opening of TWO train lines on the same day so close to my house has somewhat overwhelmed my brain, and, like Dumbledore, I find that it sometimes helps to remove thoughts from my brain and examine them from an outside perspective.

Anyway, I've been in Illinois all week.  As part of our Illinois trip, we visited Nauvoo.  (Learn about Nauvoo here, here, here, and here)  Nauvoo is better if you take a baby.  We went with commutergirl's other married brother and his family, which includes an excellent baby.

A lot of the historical explaining in Nauvoo is done by sister missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, most of whom have some kind of grandchildren, and all of whose "grandma" circuits were overloaded by the most excellent baby we were carrying with us, which lead to the tours sounding something like:

And then he moved to Nauvoo to be with the saints!  Yes he did!  Yes he did!  You're so cute!

Trust me, take a baby.

In case you're wondering, no, Nauvoo does not have any public transportation system to speak of.  But we took a wagon ride with a bunch of other people, which was the next best thing.

Friday, August 19, 2011

LITTLE MISS MATTER OF FACT

One of the things I noticed when I got on the new trains was that the voices that come to you over the speakers have changed.

For years, we have listened to and grown to love the Bodiless Train Lady, whose ethereal tones reminded us that the next station was Fashion Place West or that we should not put our feet on the seats.  It always took her a while to say anything, but we all sympathized with her, especially when she said, wistfully, "The end of the line.  As far as we go."

The Bodiless Train Lady has gone, to be replaced with . . . Little Miss Matter of Fact.

I think I'm going to like Little Miss Matter of Fact, for different reasons than I like the Bodiless Train Lady.  While she is quite friendly, she wastes no time in telling you, "Next station: Murray Central, 52nd South.  Please check for personal belongings before getting off the train.  This is a Red Line train to Daybreak."  She saves loads of time, and lends the train a sort of professional air without being dismissive (Chicago, anyone?).  All the same, I find it slightly amusing that she takes it all so seriously.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

AFTER THE ABOMINATION

Last Friday, after leaving convocation, I turned in the keys for our old apartment.  As I wandered through the halls and rooms of our old place (all, like, three of them) I tempered my feelings of nostalgia for the place by searching for any odd objects we'd left behind.  There were several; most had to do with dishwashing liquid and toilet bowl cleaner.  There was also a plunger and a toilet brush.  In case you were worried about how I was going to carry all this, there was also the bathroom trash can, which accommodated everything except the larger bottle of dishwashing liquid, which I slung over my back (in my backpack).

Random objects in tow, I headed to the main office to turn in my apartment keys, which I successfully did.  I then headed back out to the bus stop, but since I was headed to the Northbound 850 stop, I had to cross State St.  Which meant I had to cross at a light, since crossing anywhere else would be abysmally stupid.  This meant I had to walk about three times as far as normal, partly in a bike lane (since Orem Blvd. has about two inches of sidewalk, and only on the opposite side of the street), and the sun was pretty hot.

Imagine, if you will, a large man in a business suit, toiling up Orem Blvd., in the bike lane, with a heavy backpack on, carrying a garbage can with a plunger handle sticking out of it, in the heat of the day, squinting heavily because he left his sunglasses at home as part of the whole convocation debacle.  Even as I was toiling, I had to admit I probably looked pretty funny.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

NEW TRAINS VS. OLD TRAINS

So, as I have already repeated ad nauseam on this blog, UTA recently opened two new TRAX lines. I won't put up the smiley face again, partly because I'm at my in-laws' house right now and they don't have it saved on their hard drive and I'm too lazy to go find it again, and partly because I know if I put it up again, you would be like "Dude, we know you're obsessed. Shut up." Then again, you're the ones who read this blog . . .

These two new TRAX lines, bless them, are equipped with brand-new trains for your enjoyment. They are somewhat different than the old trains, so I thought I'd give you a rundown on the pros and cons of new train travel vs. old.

PROS
Newer. +82 points. The new trains are newer. They look nicer. They are sleeker. The decor is trendier. (Decor?) They haven't done much to deserve this, but still, the fact remains; they are newer.

Cleaner. +14 points. Not many points for this, but still true.

Smoother ride. +201 points. Much less bumpy. The only thing is, sometimes when it's dark, people can't tell whether we've stopped or not, it's so smooth.

Easier wheelchair boarding. +427 points. Lots of points for this, because, since the trains are low to the ground, our wheelchair-bound brothers and sisters can get on wherever they like, instead of having to go up long ramps to get on at the very end of the platform. I'm all about this.

NEUTRAL
Different voices on the PA. 0 points. I've got more to say about this in another post, so I'll forbear.

CONS
Calling Sandy Civic Center "98th South" instead of "10000 South." -3 points. I think "10000 South" has a better ring to it. 100 is such a much rounder number than 98. But I'm over it.

Less leg room. -1874 points. The first time I got on one of the new trains, I thought, "Did I miss the height-limit sign?" If it gets too crowded, I'll probably end up standing rather than trying to figure out where my legs should go so as not to intertwine with others'. Oh well. I don't mind standing.

Friday, August 12, 2011

THE ABOMINATION OF CONVOCATION

I hope you will not infer by the title of this post that the College Convocation I attended this morning was any sort of abomination. It was not. It was actually quite palatable, as convocations go. No, the title refers to me.

I am the abomination of convocation.

That all sounds a bit metaphysical, doesn't it. How 'bout I tell you the story.

The story began at 6:05 this morning when I left my apartment in the hopes of reaching BYU by 8:00. It can be done, under ideal circumstances. We now live close enough to a TRAX station to conceivably walk, so I did. How healthy is that?

Unfortunately, as I was approaching the station platform, I realized I was not going to reach it in time at my present pace. So I started running. In a suit. As I reached the platform, panting and gasping, the train was pulling away. Too late.

*evil growling noises*

I glumly walked onto the platform, since there was no more point in running, and sat down to contemplate my fate. I texted the singer to tell her I would be late. Hopefully this did not cause her a heart attack (sorry, Alison). As I sat there on the platform, a lady from UTA asked me three questions, including, "On a scale from 1 to 10, how on time do you think the trains are?" I don't know if this was part of someone's diabolical plan to get back at me for what I did to them in eighth grade, but, whoever you are, I'm sorry.

After the longest fifteen minutes of my life, the next train came. As I got on it and sat down, I felt in my bag and realized that I was feeling a shoe. The bag I was carrying contained only my gym clothes. Not any music. Did I mention I was going to convocation to play a musical number?

At this point, my thought process went something like this:

The Scream, Edvard Munch

I boarded the 811 in a foul mood. But the 811 is long enough that I had let most of the foulness drip away by the time we got to Orem. Some of it came back when I missed being able to transfer to the 830, 831, and 832 by less than two minutes at several points. All of these buses would have gotten me to the Wilkinson Center by 8:20. But I had to settle for getting let off on University Avenue at 8:20. Did I mention that the convocation started at 8:00? Did I mention that University Avenue is, like, six or seven blocks from the convocation? What else could I do? I walked fast.

I finally made it, and fortunately I was just in time. Not having time to fetch the music from some professor's office two stories up, I bravely walked on stage when the time came and faked the accompaniment. Alison and I have done this a few times before, but never in so serious a context. I admit there were a couple of moments when my mind went completely blank, despite my having rehearsed the chord changes several times during my lengthy sojourn on the 811 that morning. Nevertheless, I kept a straight face, and apparently my accompaniment was quite convincing. So it all turned out okay in the end.

I still kind of feel like an abomination.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

CHANGE DAY HAPPENS (PART 2)

I have already talked to some people about the epic length of my commute this coming school year. If you haven't heard about it, you soon will.

Part of my epic commute, most days, involves transferring from the Blue TRAX line to the 811 at the Sandy Civic Center Station. This is a relatively simple operation. You get off the train. You go stand by the 811 sign. The 811 pulls up. You get on. It takes you to Provo. Yay!

Earlier this week, between the penultimate and ultimate steps of the above-described process, an elderly man came running up to the bus just as it was about to pull away from the station, waving his arms in some consternation. This happens sometimes, and the bus driver was good enough to not pull away right in his face, as some of the ruder ones will do.

When the man got on the bus, he said to the driver with menace in his voice, "It's at 35, isn't it?"

The bus driver had no idea what this meant, so he said, "What?"

The man repeated, "It's at 35, isn't it?" in the same menacing tone.

Perhaps I'd better explain to you what he meant.

This dear old man was referring to the fact that, last week, the 811 left the Sandy TRAX station at 35 after the hour (and sometimes other times, but always at 35). From this week onward, it is scheduled to leave at 33 after the hour. Change day happened. The train schedules got adjusted. The schedules of the buses that connect to the trains got adjusted. That means that the schedules might, actually, be different.

I admit that, on occasion, a schedule change gets past me and I think, hmm, it seems like all the 831's have been late this week. What's wrong? But then, when I discover that the schedule has, in fact, changed, I become quite tranquil. My mistake. And I certainly don't grouch at the driver, who might be completely new to the route (drivers also rotate on Change Day) and would therefore have no idea that the schedule was any different before.

Like I said in the last post, I'm used to people knowing that Change Day is coming. I'm used to people on the bus in Utah County saying to drivers, "So, Change Day is coming. Are you switching routes?" I'm used to hearing people say things like "Well, I see they're taking away the 8:00 Southbound trip; do you ever take that one?" I'm not used to people getting mad at bus drivers because they didn't know the schedule had changed. Hopefully they will figure it out soon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

CHANGE DAY HAPPENS (PART 1)

This past Sunday, UTA opened up the two new TRAX lines to West Valley and West/South Jordan.

I really hope you've gotten the point by now

This has, as you may imagine, occasioned some changes to buses and the already existing TRAX lines. Or, if you didn't imagine it before, at least it makes sense to you now.

Even when UTA isn't opening a new train line or two, they generally have Change Day two or three times a year to make adjustments to bus routing and schedules. This has been going on for as long as I have ridden UTA, which I began doing in 2003.

The funny thing is, vast numbers of people in Salt Lake County seem to be unaware of this fact. In the past two days, only having ridden three routes in Salt Lake, I have already seen at least five examples of people who did not know the bus schedules have changed. Most of them were also annoyed at what they thought was the bus being early/late. I'll share at least one example specifically later.

Contrast this with Utah County--whenever Change Day is about to happen, the bussers of Provo and Orem have already figured out the new schedules, become incensed, talked about it to their busser friends, talked about it to their non-busser friends, written angry emails to UTA, yelled, screamed, and cried at public hearings, and finally resigned themselves to their fate. The point is, they know it's coming.

Have these people in Salt Lake not seen the TV commercials about the new TRAX lines? Have they not seen the gold-colored paper posted at the front of every single bus that says which routes are getting changed? Do they not know that Change Day has been happening every few months for recorded history? Are people south of Point of the Mountain really that much smarter?

Change day happens, people. Get with it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

THE 200 MOCKED ME

At the end of my gym fail trip, I got off the 45 at State Street to walk to my apartment. I live close enough to the 45 that I figured it would be pointless to wait for the 200 to take me a couple of blocks further up State, after which I would have to walk anyway. So I just started walking up State.

Two other people got off the 45 at the same time I did, and went to the 200 bus stop to wait. I'm guessing they had a little further to go than I did.

Just as I was coming up to the corner to turn onto the street I live on, I saw the 200 pull up past me and stop at the stop that is right at the corner. I couldn't help feeling a little mocked, especially because the bus stayed right there after it had stopped and didn't leave until after I had walked past it.

I could hear the 200 taunting me as I walked past it. Then I remembered that I'm not insane, and I kept walking. I reached home about the same time I would have, had I caught the bus.

Monday, August 8, 2011

GYM FAIL

The move went great; thanks for asking.

Once the move was accomplished, but not before someone may have remarked:

WHY DO YOU HAVE SO MANY BOOKS? IT'S CALLED A KINDLE (r), PEOPLE! A KINDLE (r)! GET WITH IT!

we set about trying to establish our new life in Salt Lake. We're still trying, i.e. our internets are not hooked up yet. But once they are, you can expect me to start posting every morning again, instead of every afternoon when I finally make it to BYU campus. Stay tuned. Don't give up.

So, this morning, I set out for the gym. I had previously googled "Gold's Gym" in the hopes of finding one that was easily accessible to a transit corridor. I found one. Or so I thought. It said "Gold's Gym" on it and had the requisite list of vitriolic and bitter reviews, so I figured I had found the right place.

Twenty-six blocks from home and about twenty-five minutes later, I stood on a street corner where were two other gyms, but not the one I was looking for. I wandered around aimlessly for a while, then, after figuring out that the next 45 I got on would not be the one I had ridden to where my destination wasn't, and that I would therefore not have to face the same bus driver in my shame at not knowing my way around, I went home. No gym.

So when I got to BYU today, I looked it up again. Sure enough, there was a gym indicated where I had been earlier, but it said "This place is permanently closed." I guess I should have looked a little closer. Oh well. I went for a walk, at least.

Friday, August 5, 2011

MOVING

Commutergirl and I are moving tomorrow.

Let me illustrate with a couple of crude drawings how I feel about this.



Any questions?

P.S. Allie, honey, you make it look so easy . . .

Thursday, August 4, 2011

THINGS YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED TO COMPLAIN ABOUT

Riding the bus to get around is rather different than driving a car.  It's a trip (ha! ha! . . . okay, shutting up . . .)!

Busness brings with it a whole set of norms, expectations, and responsibilities completely unknown to the rest of the world.  Some things that happen regularly on buses can initially be quite jarring to those unused to the ins and outs of bus travel.  There are some things that, as much as you may not like them, you may not complain about them:

When the bus is late.  I know the schedule you hold in your hand which matches the schedule at the bus stop which matches the schedule online which matches the schedule they tell you when you call says the bus is coming at 7:21.  If it comes at 7:23, get over it.  A bus can be two minutes late because someone was texting in the turn lane in front of it.  Now, if it comes fifteen minutes late, every day, with no apparent reason, you may complain.  But all buses are a couple minutes late sometimes.

When the bus driver slams on the brakes.  Buses are big.  It's hard to merge or change lanes with one.  The Stupid Provo Drivers of the world always cut them off.  People pull the cord too late.  Sometimes, you just gotta slam on the brakes.  Brace yourself.

The weather.  While a bus is a climate-controlled enclosure, a bus stop is not.  "It's too hot.  It's too cold.  It's too rainy.  It's too snowy."  Sorry, that's called the weather; you must not get out much.  Get back to me when hamburgers start falling from the sky.


Missing a connection.  Actually, you can complain about this all you want.  Moving on . . .

Bus performance issues, including, but not limited to, the bus breaking down.  Buses are old.  Sometimes they are crappy.  I was on the 831 once when someone asked the bus driver how many miles the bus we were on had gone.  The answer?  737,000.  How would your car do after 737,000 miles of driving around seventeen hours a day, six days a week (in the case of the 831, for example)?  Yeah, you'd have trouble, too.  And, while it can be very disheartening to have the bus you're on break down, at least you're not responsible for fixing it.  Someone else gets to do that.

Having to walk further than you originally intended.  Bus stops are generally placed to serve as many people as possible as often as possible. This means you don't always get what you want. Sometimes you look at the bus map and say, "Oh hey! The bus goes right past here!" only to find when you actually get on the bus that there isn't a stop on that block. Or sometimes you miss your stop. I was on the 62 one fine evening, intending to get off at Redwood Road, and I missed the stop (which was just before the intersection). No matter, thought I, I will simply get off at the next one. Turns out the next one wasn't for five blocks. So, my two-block walk turned into a seven-block walk. Did I complain? No. I blogged.

Blogging and complaining are not the same thing.  Remember, you're not allowed to complain.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

HELP ME HELP YOU

Last night, as I was perusing the internet, I found the new system map for Salt Lake County that will go into effect next week.  A cursory examination revealed a few errors, so I looked closer.  I found 24:

MAIN MAP
1.  200 marker too far south.
2.  213 marker missing from Midvale Center (7800 S) TRAX
3.  Midvale Center (7800 S) TRAX mislabled as Historic Sandy (9000 S) TRAX
4.  218 marker missing from loop around SLCC Redwood Campus
5.  220 marker is green at 9400 S Park 'n' Ride, but route and markers are blue elsewhere
6.  248 marker is missing from West Valley Central TRAX
7.  451 is missing altogether
8.  522 markers appear, but shouldn't
9.  806 is missing from the main map
10. 810 is missing from Thanksgiving Point Park 'n' Ride
11. 811 is labeled as an express (I sincerely hope it's not going to be an express, as I'll be riding it every day)
12. Maybe this was done on purpose--Salt Lake Central Station not labeled on main map

ROUTE FREQUENCY LIST
13.  17 should have 30-60 minute frequency on weekdays, not 30
14.  21 should be colored green, not blue
15.  33 should be colored green, not blue
16.  35 should be colored blue, not green
17.  45 should have 30-60 minute frequency on weekdays, not 15-30-60
18.  223 should have 120 minute frequency on weekdays, no service on Saturdays
19.  227 should have 30-60 minute frequency on weekdays
20.  228 should not say night service on Saturdays, since there is no service
21.  248 should have 30-60 minute frequency on weekdays
22.  509 should have 30-60 minute frequency on weekdays
23.  811 should be yellow; service should be 30-60 wk, 60 Sat, 10 trips Sun, not 4 trips wk as currently listed

ROUTE NUMBERING DESCRIPTIONS
24.  Route 335 should no longer be used as an example for routes "300-399" since it was cancelled

Now, I know these system maps are complicated.  I'd hate to be the person who has to look them over.  So, help me help you.  It's probably too close to Change Day to change anything on the map now, but hopefully these corrections can be made someday.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

CRISE D'IDENTITÉ

All the signs were there. Everything pointed to the 862.

The bus was coming from the north. The only buses that come into the Transit Center from the north are the 832 and the 862. The bus was a '99. The 862 is often a '99, but the 832 isn't so much anymore. And anyway, the 832 Southbound was already sitting on the other side of the Transit Center. It was most assuredly the 862.

I know these things.

So I was quite startled when the bus that pulled in in front of mine said "833" on the back. My logic circuits went into overdrive. "That can't be the 833! That's where the 862 parks! The 833 always parks on the other side! If that were the 833, it would be 15 minutes late!" etc. etc.

tbsh.info



When the 850 I was on pulled out of the Transit Center, you better believe I looked at the front of that bus as we passed it. Sure enough, the front of the bus said "862 Eastbound/To Transit Center" on it, and I was quite relieved. I was further vindicated by the fact that as we left the Transit Center, the actual 833 was in front of us, heading on it's merry way.

That was a relief. I'd hate to think I was losing my touch.

Monday, August 1, 2011

COKE ON THE GROUND

The soda purists of the world may want to know if the "Coke" mentioned in the title of this post is actually Coke. All I know is, it was brown, and it came from a cup that said "Coca Cola" on it.

The other day as I was waiting for the 850. There not being much else to do, I was watching the cars drive past, on their way to wherever they may have been going, taking note whenever anything mildly interesting happened.

Like when a guy in a small jeep came down the road with a cup that said "Coca Cola" on it.

waymarketing.com

He had his arm completely over the side of the vehicle, holding the cup. As I watched, he took one last tug on the straw, then tipped the cup forward, causing the brownish liquid (hereafter referred to for purposes of simplicity simply as "Coke") inside the cup to spew forth all over the street. He retained the cup, however, putting it back into his jeep, and commenced chewing on the straw. I can think of a few explanations for this:

1. He thought he had gotten Coke, when in actuality he had gotten root beer. The shock of this sudden taste change caused him to want to dump out his soda, but he took one last tug on the straw just to make sure it wasn't what he wanted before dumping it out.
2. He thought he had gotten root beer, but in fact had gotten Coke, etc.
3. He had gotten Coke, and had intended to get Coke, but had suddenly remembered the nutrition facts on Coke, and realized he would have to part with his beloved beverage in order to preserve his ostensibly excellent figure (I couldn't tell if his figure was excellent or not, as the door of the jeep went up to his shoulders; this, however, makes the dumping out of the Coke all the more incongruous).
4. He really just wanted the straw to chew on. It occurs to me there are cheaper ways to obtain a straw to chew on.

For whatever reason, he contentedly continued on his way, leaving me to muse about his possible reasons for doing what he had just done, since this was mildly more interesting than watching cars going past.