Wednesday, February 28, 2007

People who get dressed on BART

I understand that missing a train can be detrimental to might even get fired for being late to an important meeting! But some people do take it a little too far. I don't care if people put on some last minute make-up touches while on BART, or perhaps comb their hair briefly on BART, but it is too much when one gets on BART straight from the shower.

I saw a woman today who walked into the train with completely drenched hair, a t-shirt that is soaked from the water in her hair, jeans and flip flops. She carried with her a large bag filled with clothes and a hair towel. She didn't get a seat so she dropped her bag on the floor, took out the towel and started drying her hair. Then, she took her soaked shirt off (she had a tank top inside) and put on a sweater she pulled out of her duffle bag. After she puts on the sweather, she took off her flip flops and slips on soaks and loafers, also taken out from her bag. Finally, she took out her make-up bag and completed her look by the time we reached the Transbay Tube. Her hair was still damp, but she combed it neatly and tied it back.

Were her actions harmful? No. Was she annoying? Not really, but I did think her dressing on BART was a bit over the top. Maybe it's just me but I have too much self-dignity to get dressed on BART. If I MUST get into work by a certain time on time, I'd much rather get up earlier, get ready in the comfort of my own home, and then get on BART.

Monday, February 26, 2007

What? Glaring at me?

The nerve of a woman today to glare and shake her head at me just because my purse (soft) accidentally bumped her right hand which was holding on to a vertical safety bar on the train. She must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed sinceI can't imagine anyone else being THAT upset just because someone's purse lightly brushed against their hands.

Just to clarify, my purse is light, clean, soft and small. It literally brushed against her hand for a split second because I was trying to scoot out of people's way as they were entering the train. The second I noticed, I mouthed "sorry!" but in return, she gave me a nasty dirty look and rolled her eyes, while shaking her head!!!!!

WHAT THE HECK???? I guess I'm not that surprised judging by her ultra-tight pulled back hair bun. I wished I hadn't been so polite to offer a "sorry". Of course I wasn't going to take her glaring and head-shaking without a reaction. I looked right back at her and raised an eyebrow to question her reaction. Who knows if she knew what I was doing...but it made me feel better at least.

Then I realized she was just an unhappy and unpleasant type of person. She got just as upset each time she saw an empty seat get taken. She also shook her head when a newbie BART passenger asked someone else if Montgomery is the 2nd or 3rd stop in SF.

Cheer up, lady. Don't let something so small get to you so much!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Pounding the doors and windows of train car #6 will not do you any good

My train was amazingly on time today despite the heavy rains. I barely made it to the platform in time but luckily I had comfortable shoes on today so I was able to sprint at good speed.

However, some people weren't so lucky. As the train doors were closing, I saw a few more people dash up the platform. One man, in particular, did not take his missing the train well at all. He was pissed off. He screamed some profanities, then proceeded to pound the door of my train (the 6th car I believe) heavily as we slowly left the platform. He pounded the doors at least 4 or 5 times.

After slamming the doors, he then started pounding the windows as he ran along (just about 12 feet along) with the train. It's as if he wanted to show all of us how pissed off he was and how inconceivable it was that we left him!

If he wanted to actually make a difference with his pounding, he should have ran up to the train operator and begged her to stop. I don't know if TOs are allowed to stop for passengers but I've seen that happen a few times.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A bad case of space invasion

I actually got a seat on BART this morning! However, I sat to the left of a man who definitely shops at Rochester Big & Tall, who was crossing his legs. His right leg was on his left knee, and because he's so tall, his right shoe kept on tapping on my leg.

At first, I didn't care about the accidental tap. Sure, I didn't like his shoe touching my jeans but I was able to forgive him since I assumed it was just a one time thing, and he'll quickly realize it and UN-CROSS his legs so that won't happen again.

He saw his crossed right foot run into my knee but he didn't do anything. As a result, his foot kept on tapping on my leg, over and over and over again, nonstop! His right leg, crossed, was completely encroaching my personal space! It's as if he was taking up 1.5 seats! How could he not know or not care that his dirty shoe was touching my clothes??? He must have felt the taps because I sure did! I wasn't about to move over, he's the one invading MY space!

A mean and long glare from me didn't propel him to move within his own seat. I was in a bad mood already (someone near me was wearing unbreathably strong cologne) so I snapped, I said in an obviously irritated tone, "Can you move your foot out of the way?"

"Oh, sorry about that, didn't know it was bothering you." he responded and finally un-crossed his legs.

RIGHT! I just LOVE to have someone's dirty shoe bump into my leg continuously on BART.

I snapped back, "It was." I then held my magazine up high and shifted my position in the opposite direction just to reiterate my discontent.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A cougar under BART tracks?

Did you guys read this today? I hope everyone, the animal and humans, come out unharmed from this situation.

Mountain lion spotted near BART tracks in Fremont

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

(02-20) 13:05 PST FREMONT -- A mountain lion has been sighted under the BART tracks near Moury Avenue in Fremont, the agency said, and Animal Care and Control officers have been called to try to corral the cat, said BART spokesman Linton Johnson.

The sighting was reported at 12:46 p.m. on land near BART property, and the animal did not appear to be a danger to passengers, Johnson said.

No train delays have been reported in connection with the sighting.

Friday, February 16, 2007

one precious seat

Last night's ride home was pretty miserable. It was one of those situations where those waiting on the platform squeezed themselves in one by one, until the last person is smashed against the door; where you have to breath with your mouth instead of your nose just to void smelling the sweat and other funky scents next to you.

Everyone was hoping some people would get off at West Oakland, but only one passenger got off on my side of the train. Everyone surrounding that empty seat sort of looked at each other, no one wanted to be the "rude" one and claim the seat. The oldest of the passenger shook his head-- he didn't want to sit down. The other passengers nearby, three females, also hesitated. One female was overweight. I personally thought from afar the seat should have gone to her, but no one wanted to suggest that. 8 seconds must have past since the seat emptied, a long time considering most people usually claim an empty seat within 1 second.

Finally, one of the three women asked an elderly but healthy-looking woman about 8 feet away from her if she wanted to sit down. The elderly woman said "Sure, thank you." As she walked over towards the seat, we heard a frantic man yelling from the opposite side of the train.

The man yelled, "Excuse me, make way, watch out, coming through, watch it" as he literally PUSHED people out of the way to walk over to this one empty seat. He was soaked with sweat, his hair was wet and dripping with sweat, his jeans were more brown than blue, and his shoes looked like they've been soaked in mud. As he shoved people around in the crowded train, people tripped, dropped their computer bags, or lost their balance. Each step he took, he wiped off the sweat dripping on his face with his hands. As he got closer, he yelled and pointed, "I'm taking THAT seat right there!" as the elderly woman was about to sit down.

As the rest of us saw that, people were just disgusted by that man, both his actions and his appearance. As he sat down, he breathed loudly, "Ahh.....hurrrrr....ahhhh.....hurrrr......" and pulled up his drenched and dirty shirt to wipe down his face, revealing his upper body.

I wasn't as bothered by him taking the seat (hey, no one else wanted it bad enough), but more so his unkept appearance. Luckily, he got off at MacArthur, and so did half of the train. I was able to breath a little bit easier after that.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Train operator acting as Cupid and causing me unintentional awkwardness

Happy Valentine's Day! Lately, I've been riding a train with an operator who is always in a good mood it seems. I've written about her before...the one that used to sing songs to wish you a good day. She's tolerable most of the time, amusing occasionally, and annoying in some cases...but her perkiness really doesn't do any harm and can be refreshing at times.

Today, in addition to wishing everyone a happy Valentine's day, she went above and beyond her call of duty and announced this message at every other stop, "If you are single, just look around, introduce yourself, there are plenty of other single riders on the train who are looking for a Valentine to spend the evening with!"

I just happened to look up for a second after her announcement and accidentally made eye contact with a man. Oh god, I thought to myself, I hope he doesn't think I want to introduce myself to him! I am happily married, first of all, and secondly, he (sorry, I'm stereotyping here but he appears to be a developer/computer programmer with a long ponytail) is not my type at all!

As I was panicking inside, the man said, "Hello, I am RXXX."

Oh **it!!!!! What did the train operator get me into?? Everyone around me was looking to see if I'd respond. I didn't want to be rude and not reply...besides, maybe he is also happily married and thought I wanted to be introduced to him! Maybe he took my accidental eye contact with him as a sign? So, who am I to be rude?

I responded, "Hello, good morning," smiled, and looked back down to read my magazine. I wished I had my iPod on so I could pretend I didn't hear the TO's announcement. I held my magazine a little higher than usual hoping that he will just see my wedding band.

I was embarrassed, and I'm sure he wasn't comfortable either, especially with everyone else around us looking or listening. I was hoping he would get off at Downtown Oakland but of course not....he got off at Montgomery.

I smiled and nodded as he got up.

I wonder if the train operator caused anyone else unintentional awkwardness?? What an experience to remember!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A commute experience like a Seinfeld episode

I am a huge Seinfeld fan. I can still laugh at reruns that I've seen at least 5 times throughout my life. Many of you might not know what the heck I'm talking about, but being stuck in a bad BART delay today really reminds me of the episode titled "The Subway" where Elaine was stuck in an overcrowded subway train that stopped service and went out of power on her way to a wedding. I relate well to that episode.

Her thought process during the momentary service stop/power outage mirrors what I say to myself inside whenever I am stuck in a BART situation where I have no clue when the train will start moving again. However, with BART, half of the time, a train operator will make an audible update announcement to let us know what is causing the delay, but half of the time, we can't hear the announcement, or there is no announcement altogether, causing most of us to feel anxious, annoyed, impatient, and for some, nervous or angry. When the angry passengers start cussing aloud in a motionless and CO2 filled train, the situation worsens threefold! No one likes to be stuck inside a crowded train, but those people should try to keep their feelings to themselves, like the rest of us.

The episode also involves Jerry sitting across from a naked man: his thought process reflecting mine whenever I see a freakish character on BART, although I've yet to run into someone naked. I have, however, seen a mentally-handicapped woman wearing a beat-up sweatshirt with only pantyhose. I couldn't tell whether she knew what she was doing on BART (it seemed like she was alert although why would anyone alert wear only pantyhose with a hole-filled sweatshirt), but her revealing outfit certainly drew a lot of stares.

If you ever watch that episode (it was on last night on KTVU), you'll know what I'm talking about and how well it describes my feelings during a severe BART delay.

Monday, February 12, 2007

People who pry the train doors open just to get on!

We've all seen this! People who are running up or down the escalator as the train door is closing but they refuse to wait for the next train so they decide to risk getting bruises on their arms and legs to stick their arms/legs to pry open the doors! Generally when that happens, the doors get stuck, the train operator has to re-open and re-close several times before the train gets going again.

I guess many passengers were running late this morning since at every other stop on the way to SF, someone forced the door open as it shuts. One person even had the audacity to reach between the closing doors with less than 2 inches to spare, pulled it open, stuffed his arms in, and finally twisting his body through. He walked in looking smug, as if he's beaten the system. Unfortunately, this caused a 20 second delay in our departure.

One by one, they pry open the shutting train doors. With each "intruder", the train doors take some additional time to "normalize". After seeing 5 different people pry the doors open, it got a little old!

People who are approaching as the door shuts should just let it shut!! You've missed the train so just get in line, read your newspaper/book, and wait for the next one!!!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What do you do in that situation?

I'm sure all of us have been in this situation before. The train is uncomfortably packed. Almost every square inch of standing room has been taken. You can hardly see the carpet on the train floors anymore because of the excess number of feet. You are breathing into the person in front of you, while feeling the breath of the person in back of you right on your neck or head. Every little movement by the train causes everyone to swing left to right....any sudden movement causes you to trip over, falling into the person in front of you. It is so crowded that you can actually physically feel the lack of oxygen and the excess of CO2.

When there are THAT many people on a train, the train operator usually yells repeatedly, "There is a Pittsburg/Baypoint train just 3 minutes behind this train with plenty of room....there is a Pittsburg/Baypoint train just 3 minutes behind me with plenty of room!"

Do you actually get off the train to get out of the overcrowded train for a little more space? Do you ever see people getting off to take the next train?

For me, that's a no to both questions. I always just feel that I can endure the uncomfortable conditions in order to be home just 3 minutes earlier. I also have never seen anyone actually get off in order to ride in a more spacious train (or it's too crowded that I don't get a full view of who's in and out). Not only do I not see people get off, I actually see people lining up still trying to squeeze into the train somehow, making it unbearably crowded.

Do people get off? Do you get off? Have you witnessed an instance where that very announcement by the TO actually discourages passengers in line from getting in, while encouraging those inside to get out? Maybe people with suitcases?

Just wondering. I was in that situation today and did not get off, nor did I see others get off.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

BART to San Jose

I go into San Jose once a week for work reasons. While sometimes it's a good break from BART, most of the time, I am sitting in horrendous traffic, moving at less than 25 mph, and hoping that I am on a train instead, reading a magazine or typing emails. Would I take BART to San Jose? Probably so if the total travel time is less than 75 minutes each way. Regardless, it would be wonderful to have that option.

Here's the latest on the project, as of 2/2, reported by Rachel Gordon of SF Chronicle:

The California Transportation Commission allocated $364 million Thursday to continue engineering, design work and other planning for the South Bay BART project.

The $4.7 billion project would extend BART into San Jose, Milpitas and Santa Clara, but it has not been fully funded. Backers hope to secure a mix of state, federal and regional money for it.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Please keep the homeless out of BART trains

The title is blunt but I really did not know how to soften it. I really do not like it when I see/encounter homeless people on BART, whether they are using BART as shelter/bed or asking passengers for money.

Why don't I like it? I think we, as passengers, pay a good amount of money to get to our destinations by BART. We don't expect BART to be spotless, with great service, or luxurious (we really just expect BART to be on-time, safe and not filthy), but most of us really do not want to be bothered or threatened by unauthorized people like the homeless.

I'm not heartless. I recognize that homelessness is a huge problem in SF and I wholeheartedly support some of the initiatives like SF Homeless Connect. But I don't want the homeless seeking help/shelter on a BART trian, or even a BART station!

Why not the homeless? Because 99.99% of the time, they smell like alcohol, urine, defecation, trash or sweat...or all of the above. The majority of them that I've encountered on BART are mentally unstable. Today, one homeless man somehow snuck onboard and was aggressively asking people seated in my area for "some help". He didn't take no for an answer. If you ignored him, he kept on asking you until you look at him. If you said no, he doesn't leave either and starts to question if you have pennies, nickels, dimes..etc. Even as you say no or you don't have change, he continues to shake the cup in front of your face. Worst of all, he smelled terrible!!! The fact that he stood next to you and refuses to leave only meant that we had to endure his smell for a long long time. It was bad....I had to breath with my mouth and even then, I was afraid of what type of taste his scent would leave in my mouth. It was an extremely heavy odor.

I used to give money to homeless in the station, on the train or on the street. But I'll tell you what changed me! I had volunteered in two SF Homeless Connect days in the past. What is so disheartening is that the homeless attendees don't go to the job or self-help stations, instead, they just want to rush to the freebies line where they can get donated packages of items from snacks, socks, shoes...etc. I understand they need those items, but there are so many resources there for them to actually get out of the condition that they are in PERMANENTLY! Most, I observed, did not even stop by the job or self-help lines. While I still believe in the Homeless Connect Days, I learned that most homeless people don't want to help themselves long-term. In fact, one good example is the same homeless man sitting in front of 8th/Market's been over 2 years and he still asks everyone coming out of Starbucks for change.

What is BART doing to help keep homeless people out of the trains? I can understand that keeping them out of the stations is nearly impossible to do, but what about the trains? How do they sneak through the ticket gates? Why can't train operators see them on video and ask a police officer to kindly remove them? Maybe they do that already but some still slip through.