Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Must be the "holiday spirit" ?!?

I don't know if it's because the holidays are coming up, and you see red, green, fake snow and lights everywhere, but something in the air is making BART passengers very social and friendly to each other. I've been seeing strangers striking up conversations randomly and talk the entire way through the ride...some even go as far as exchanging business cards!!

BART passengers generally try to avoid talking to each other. We usually bury our faces in reading material, sleep, or completely tune out to surrounding noises with music. It is quite rare to see someone say, "Oh! I like your phone! Where did you get it?" and start blabbering away from there on.

I have not yet sat next to someone who wanted to chat...I don't know if I want to. I love the holidays but when it comes to socializing early in the morning when I'm still sleepy, or socializing in the evening when I'm completely drained by work, I remain a Scrooge! However, in my defense, I will always be polite should someone talk to me!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Got so lucky today!

As lame as this sounds, what I'm about to describe is one of the most satisfying and gratifying moments I've experienced as a BART passenger. It doesn't happen often but when it does, I feel like I've won something huge or I've beat the system. I had no idea there was a bad BART delay today until after I got on the train. I drove to the station and parked my car like I normally would. Due to slightly lighter traffic, I got there a few minutes earlier than usual, leaving me about 8 minute before my train is scheduled to arrive. I thought, oh great, I'm too early, I'll now have to stand out in the freezing cold (32 degrees in Orinda) for waiting for the train.

Usually, when I have this much time left before my train, I take my time walking to the station and I stand on the escalators instead of walking up the steps. Today, because I was so cold, I thought maybe I'll just jog to get my body temperature up.

I ran to the station and as I inserted my ticket in the gate, I heard the train arrive. I thought it might have been the train going towards Pittsburg but I still ran up the stairs anyways. Lucky that I did because I barely made it onto the San Francisco train!! The next SF/Daily City train is 18 minutes behind!!!

Whew...I was pretty proud of myself. I felt like I stole one and got lucky. Otherwise, with the delay, I probably would have missed 2 shuttle pickups to work and not get in until 10am.

Maybe I should buy a lotto ticket??

Monday, November 27, 2006

The every-other-step rule

On the up-escalator today, a woman with a huge backpack violated the every-other step rule and almost caused a dangerous downward domino affect. She was clueless. She was SO fickle about where she wanted to stand on the escalator. She looked like she was about to take on the step that is two steps above mine but then suddenly changed her mind and just casually and cluelessly took one step down.

As she did that, her oversized backpack pushed my face! She had no clue! I lost my balance. I was tipping backwards. My torso leaned backwards unnaturally in a desperate attempt to hold my body upright without causing the passengers behind me to fall over. Luckily, the man in back of me saw what happened and anticipated that I would be stepping backwards to hold my balance. So, he stepped back, right when I suddenly placed one foot back to hold my body upright.

This woman had no clue what she did and just walked out of the station.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Stupidity or misinterpretation?

Ran into something outrageous today. I think this couple has never ever taken BART. They had 5 pieces of luggage with them and looked really winded in front of the station agent's window. I had some extra time so I wasn't running as usual...I slowly walked towards the the ticket gates and got a good portion of their conversation.

Apparently, they were very upset with the station agent and BART for some reason. I listened closely and found out that they were waiting by their parking space for over 20 minutes for the BART shuttle (first of all, no such thing) to pick them up from their space to bring them and their 5 pieces of luggage to the ticket gates. They saw the "County Connection" buses and mistaken them for BART parking shuttles. The couple said BART shouldn't have advertised that holiday travelers can park their long-term and take BART to the airport because long-term airport parking lots transport the patrons and their luggage.

I know how large and expansive some BART parking lots can be...especially for people with suitcases, but this is just plain stupid! Have they never taken BART? Do they actually think that BART cares about people's ability to carry 5 suitcases while walking a quarter mile to the platform?

Quite an entertaining little observation.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Driving on Empty

No BART for me today since I had to drive to San Jose for work. Traffic wasn't too terrible on 680 since a lot of people have already left for Thanksgiving. I was trying to make a 10am meeting and it was already past 9am. I needed every minute. My fuel level was probably at about 2 notches over the 1/4 mark when I left home this morning and I figured on a light traffic day, I should be able to make the roundtrip (120 miles) on over a quarter tank of gas left! HOW WRONG I WAS!

By the time I got to San Jose, a quarter tank was gone....the fuel was probably just 2 notches over "E" at this point. I knew that I would need to fill upfor sure before I reach Orinda, but I was hoping maybe I could fill up around San Ramon, or somewhere else off 680 that I am sort of familiar with and know it's safe to get gas. The gas stations near my San Jose freeway entrance are pretty shady and I've never had good experiences I try to avoid filling up there when I can. Besides, I wanted to beat rush hour yet again, every minute of headstart counts.

Within 3 miles on the freeway, the needle dropped to "E" for some reason. I knew I could still get at least 15-20 miles out of what is left of the tank so I kept on going. Well, around Sunol Grade/Sunol Pass, I started hearing loud airy pumping sounds whenever I stepped on the gas pedal. Whenever I stepped hard on the pedal, I noticed the car was not going faster. I took the nearest exit, hoping that there's a gas station....and to my dismay, there wasn't ANY in sight. I kept going, passing 3 lights. The car, at this point, was really not moving much anymore. Then I thought I saw a Chevron sign..I very slowly turned in but noticed it was a Speedy Oil Change with a "Chevron Lubricant" sign. Oh great...I thought....what the heck am I going to do?

The mechanics at Speedy Oil Change were nice enough to dump in some gasoline (from a huge 10 gallon tank) into my car, spilling gas everywhere. They also told me that the nearest gas station was 4 miles down and it would not have been good to get stuck on the street without gas since it wasn't the best neighborhood.

I guess I got pretty luck that I was able to land my car there. I made it to the gas station, filled up and drove back home.

This was the first time ever that I've ran out of gas. I usually am pretty careful about filling up before a long trip but today...I don't know what came over me. Glad things worked out OK.

Tomorrow...I'm happy to be back on BART!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's been awhile...

Wow, I think aside from vacations, this really is the longest lapse between posts. It's been one nutty week- on top of a very stressful week at work, I was also ill with bad food allergies.

The only noteworthy thing from BART this week was seeing fresh barf stains during one of my morning rides. It looked like someone make an effort to clean it, but there were still bits and pieces of particles left behind in addition to the big, heavy smear of residues. There was a faint but very recognizable lingering scent around the area. I was already feeling sick in my stomach from my food allergies and seeing and smellin the stain only made me sicker. I had to rub my hands with my coconut lotion and cover my nose with it to prevent myself from creating another stain for the rest of the passengers. I was glad to make it through the ride without causing a scene.

I'm looking forward to a light commute next week with many people taking the entire week of for Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Good BART, bad shuttle

It's really been too good on BART this week. It's been on time, I get a seat the way there and back, and I haven't ran into anyone abnormal, inconsiderate, or annoying on the train. Wow!

On the other hand, it is my company shuttle that has been late and keeping me out in the cold, windy and VERY smelly corner of Market & 7th. With the extra minutes that I had around the Civic Center area, I got to do a lot more sightseeing. I saw a homeless man screaming **CK YOU at everyone who walked by him, a disoriented homeless woman wearing leotard, torn stockings and an old smelly jacket mumbling to herself, and another homeless man looking into the trashcan, throwing out items he didn't want to eat and stuffing the items he does want to eat into his mouth. Very sad observations...and they say homeless population in SF has declined?? Perhaps it has, but in the last few years, the homeless population in the Civic Center area seems to only have increased.

Anyhow, I hope the luck I've been having with BART continues! Hope I didn't jinx it.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Performers at stations

Especially along the downtown SF exits, there are always performers inside the station, by the exit elevators. Whether it's a string quartet, gospel singer, saxaphone, harp, barbershop singers, mariachi or Chinese instrument, you always expect some form of entertainment when you exit one of the downtown stations.

I always wonder though, if they take a spot on a first come first serve basis. It seems like there is a different one each day of the week, but on a given Friday, or a Tuesday, you see the same performer.How do they work out the schedule, if there is one? Or is it truly just first come, first serve.

I also wonder how much they make? I think the good ones do pretty well! I've seen the same gospel singer many times and he is really good! I always give him a buck, and see many others open up their wallets. The mariachi guitarist is not very good at all. The mariachi guitarist is not very good- he cannot sing in tune- it might just be better if he sticks with guitar! His guitar case is always near empty, with a couple coins, and I've yet to see someone give him money.

What I don't understand is why a string quartet would sit inside the station to perform? Is it to practice? They can easily get at least $500 for playing an hour at a wedding. Do they need the spare change that badly for all 4 of them to get out there with a cello case open?

Well, for whatever reason, I think it's good that they're out there, making a few bucks, with their musical talent!