Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Chatters on BART

I'm a fairly social person...I know how to make conversations with strangers when I need to, but one thing I don't like doing is striking up a conversation on BART. A couple times, conversations naturally happen, whether triggered by an experience (BART delays), similar reading material, or common dislike of someone else's behavior. But most of the time, people on BART prefer to be silent...immersed in their own reading, music, mobile device, or dreams.

This morning, I sat next to a woman who wanted to talk, apparently. She said hi, I said hi back. She said it's chilly today, I said, yeah, it sure is. OK, that's all fine and dandy, I don't mind brief small talk out of courtesy, but she took it too far. She went on and on:

She says: Where do you work?
I said: City (As I'm taking out my magazine AND Treo, trying to signal that I'm busy)
She says: Where at?
I said: XX *name withheld here (By now, I'm actually reading my magazine in between responses)
She says: What do you do there?
I said: Oh marketing (Purposely being vague with her about my exact role and responsibilities to avoid more conversation)
She says: I always thought marketing is fun. Better than customer service. You get to do fun and creative things with marketing like being on TV. Do you like it?
I said: Uh hum. (At this point, I can tell she has no clue what she's talking about and I really do not feel like being a marcom professor here. Besides, I could care less if she doesn't know what marketing is. Even more, I don't even do marketing...I have a much more specific role within Corporate Marketing)
I added: Go look up the website if you're interested. I'm sorry, I have some urgent work here that I need to take care of....I wish I could chat more. (I actually did have a problem at work and buried my head in my Treo thereafter). Sorry!

She looked at me with disgust as if I am the rudest person in the world and kept quiet therafter!

OK, some of you may think I'm a b*tch but I'm sorry I just don't feel like talking about my life or my day at work with a stranger while on BART! There are tons of people nearby probably chuckling at the situation that I was in. I really am social but BART is not a social setting and I prefer to keep to myself!


Anonymous said...

I agree. I just want to be left alone. Generally when I ride its what, first thing in the morning and the last thing at the end of a busy day. I want to have some relative P&Q. I try and keep busy with my own readings, mobile, etc, the last thing I want to do is speak. Heck, I generally try and not have prolonged conversations even with loved ones for fear of eavesdropping.

SongMonk said...

I don't think it needs to be painted so cut and dry, like either you're a bitch or else she was totally out of line. (I do tend more to the her being out of line though.)

I think it's perfectly fine that she tried to strike up a conversation -- I actually wish people did this more -- but she should be aware of the (likely) possibility that you didn't want to talk, and you dropped *more* than enough hints that she should have let the conversation end.

Summary: 1) nothing wrong with striking up a conversation with a stranger, 2) it's good to have social awareness if you want to fit in with the people. :-)

Anonymous said...

i can't imagine why she'd be interested in talking to you.

bartmusings said...

I think she would have talked to anyone who sat there, so it's definitely not because it's me. She's not at fault, she's's good. My whole point was just that it's my personal preference to not engage in more than casual greeting on BART. I say hi to people I sit next to, but stop there. Sometimes they say hi back, many times they don't. I don't get offended...I know where they're coming from!

Anonymous said...

There are times I will forget to remove my BART id when I hop on a train and there will usually be someone who poses that question, "So what do you do for BART?" It's at that point I realized my mistake.

Call me a bitch too (although I'm male) but I do not like to strike up any conversation on the train as well, unless it's to say "Excuse me" in order to get out of the seat or past the person with 4 pieces of luggage making their way to OAK or SFO.

While I don't have an iPod, I guess I should invest in a lightweight set of headphones and stick them in my ears, when I am reading or studying on the train. As it is now, I wear earplugs and it's a bit more difficult to hear when someone says something. Nonetheless I, much like you will give vague responses.

Anonymous said...

Right there with ya!!!