Monday, March 20, 2006

A ride on BART with my folks

My parents were visiting me for a few days and I've decided to take them with me to work via BART. I had just a few minutes to teach them proper BART etiquette (have your ticket ready before you enter the booth, make sure you have the right amount, stay on the right on escalators unless you're walking up and do not take more room than you are entitled to on your seat.) They were pretty good about following my instructions and moved smoothly from the lines, through the booth, up the escalators, and into the train like trained BART riders.

When they got on the train, they instantly noticed the little things that bug me daily. For example, a man taking up two seats: he was seated in the aisle seat, while his computer bag and old newspaper took up the window seat. I usually force people like that to move their stuff out so I can take the empty seat, but my parents were too nice and bashful....they just looked at the seat and hoped he will get the clue. As expected, he didn't. I then asked him to clear out the seat for my mom. Eventually, we all got a seat, in 3 different locations, leaving my parents plenty of time to observe BART and its diverse riders.

Immediately after we got to SF, my dad asks, "why don't they ever announce the stations clearly? I can't understand what they're saying? I will get lost if you aren't here with me." Yes dad, I does seem like they like to employ train operators who mumble or are too softspoken or just don't care about passengers who rely on their announcements to get around, although eloquent operators do surface every so often. My mom then said to me, "I see people eating on the train. Why do you tell me you don't have time to eat breakfast? You can eat it on BART." I had to tell her that no food or drinks are permitted on the train, although many passengers completely disregard the rule, thus, leaving food and coffee stains all over the seats and floors. I said instead of getting mad at me for not eating breakfast, they should be proud of me for respecting rules. Finally, my parents commented that they really should enforce a max capacity rule on the trains. I completely agree!! There really should be some type of signal when the train becomes uncomfortably crowded, forbidding additional passengers from squeezing on. Maybe a weight warning bell, like on an elevator? But that would be rather embarrassing for someone overweight to squeeze on and hear the loud buzz! Not nice.

Overall, however, my parents still thought riding BART was better than braving the Bay Bridge traffic and repeatedly wonder why LA does not have it!

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