Tuesday, November 29, 2005

New job, new BART stop.

I didn't mention this earlier since these entries are mainly about BART, but I did get a new job recently and I am starting tomorrow! This actually means a great deal for my roundtrip BART commute. I am now exiting at the Embarcadero station, which is 4 exits before the Civic Center station. Boy, the differences between the two stations are VAST! Embarcadero is by the water, with beautiful sweeping views of the Bay, in the heart of financial district, ideal location for shopping and dining, festive around holidays (outdoor Kristi Yamaguchi ice rink, beautifual Embarcadero Xmas lights, and red and green trimmings all over downtown), much cleaner all around, and with fewer homeless people near the station. I used to work near this station, so I know the benefits of working back in the Embarcadero area.

Getting off Embarcadero instead of Civic Center doesn't mean that I won't deal with delays, disgusting scents, strange stains, perverts, weirdos and other undesirable encounters, it does mean that I don't need to catch the company shuttle each day after getting off BART. NO MORE SHUTTLES! I will be able to walk out of the Embarcadero station, and walk right into my new building. Oh...how nice that will be. That cuts 10-15 minutes off my commute each way!!! Not to mention taxi expenses whenever I miss the darn shuttle.

There is one drawback, however, to my new BART commute. Embarcadero riders getting on the BART train back to the East Bay usually have no seats, if they can even find standing room at all!! I better get used to standing and smelling the person next to me, because by Embarcadero station pick-up, the train is usually jam packed. The advantage I have is that I'm relatively thin, so I don't need much space to stand.

Well, just wanted to share this news. I'm sure I'll have many "standing passenger" horror stories to write about.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

An unofficial disclaimer

I've noticed that BART Musings has been added to a public transportation site in the BART blogs section (greetings new readers, and welcome!!)

Although I've created this blog to serve as a means to vent, and all entries, though true, represent my personal experiences and opinions about BART, its passengers, occasional delays, and the surroundings of my SF stop, it is time to reiterate that despite my unpleasant experiences on the train, I do want people to know that taking BART is way better than being stuck in bumper to bumper traffic! Or else, why would an L.A. native (meaning someone who never takes public transport, and valet parks wherever I go) like me bear all the unpleasantries to still take BART to work everyday? That's saying a lot!!

Monday, November 21, 2005

What a good book can do for your BART ride

Yes, I know, I haven't written an entry in a quite awhile! You actually should be happy for me! I mentioned in my last posting that I've been reading a good book that has kept my attention away from the undesirable conditions on BART and around the Civic Center station. The book has kept me relatively BART complaint-free all last week (well, except for a 15 minute BART delay on Thursday which caused me to miss my shuttle...I had to spend an additional $10 on a taxi ride to the office! SUCKED!)

I've been reading Memoirs of a Geisha, and from the preface all the way to the last page of acknowledgements, I have just been completely captured by the story! It's so good that I actually don't even get the chance to lift up my head to check out the passengers around me. I still smell things, sure, but all I need to do is swing the book up and down to fan away the bad scents while keeping my focus on the book.

Unfortunately, I am now finished with the 400 page novel....now I'm in the hunt again for a good book that keeps me THAT enthralled or else my attention will be once again focused on my horrible surroundings on and off the train.

I can't wait until the Memoirs of a Geisha movie is out. I just hope they do justice to their beautifully written and emotionally stimulating book.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

R. Kelly you are not!

Some people take the whole "I don't care about what people think of me" mentality to a whole new level. I definitely think that it's good to not let other people's opinions dictate your life, but sometimes, I come across individuals who take that a bit too far....beyond the level of basic common sense.

On the ride home on BART today, one man stood out today...in a bad way. He had a beat-up looking Sony walkman in his hand, and headphone in his ears. The entire train ride, he was singing loudly to what was apparently a R. Kelly CD (judging from the songs.) He screamed the words, attempted to sing the high octaves, and even mimicked R. Kelly's deep-voiced monologues....all during the train ride with 100 people in the same train! If he sounded like R. Kelly, maybe the rest of us will end up clapping for him after each song. But he was horrible! It was noise to me! He was out of tune, his throat hiccuped and squeaked whenever he tried to sign high notes...and worst of all, he was unbelievably loud. He had his eyes closed, he was deep into the tunes, shaking his head and body to the melody....he really thought he was R. Kelly performing on BART!

He sounded awful! Everyone glanced at him for a second, and looked away while making not-so-kind judgments about him and his lack of talent inside our heads.

Then, in downtown Oakland, he left the train...still singing. Suddenly, the train bursted out in laughter, sighs of relief, and conversations about him. I was just glad that there is silence once again on BART so I can focus on my book (Memoirs of a Geisha, very good so far!)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Sorry, one more scent-related entry

I hate to bore you guys with yet another smell-related entry, but something bad happened again today that I must share!

It didn't even happen on the train....it was on the escalators this time around. Someone let out a very ripe and rotten-smelling fart on his/her way up the escalators and the rest of us behind this person pretty much rode up the escalator through the mass of fart. That's a pretty evil thing to do- to let out gas knowing that the endless stream of people standing behind you on the escalator will pass it. Just awful....

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Again, oxygen mask needed....

Another brush with bad-smelling passengers today. This time around, I wasn't seated next to someone smelly, but unfortunately, the train was so crowded that there were standing passengers all around. The woman standing next to me was extraordinarily greasy....her entire face was beyond shiny, it actually looked like she had been next to an oil grill all day. Quickly, it occurred to me that she actually HAD been standing next to a fryer all day. She had a hair net on, and had an apron in her bag. She smelled like a taqueria kitchen's trash can....the onions, the beans, the oils, the cheese, the salsa, stale tortillas....she really stunk next to me. I had to position my hand discretely next to my nose to try to mask the scent.

I know, it's not her fault. She probably just finished a hard day of work at Joe's Tacos or whatever, and is simply taking the train home, like I am. But, I wish she could have wiped her body with a wet towel. I mean, I would have done that if I had just finished a hard day in a kitchen. I wasn't the only one covering my nose either...I saw others around me doing the same hand over nose gesture.

Please let tomorrow be a better day on BART. I just want to ride home without having to endure 35 minutes of bad smells. After today's ride, I think I'm cool with not having Mexican food for at least a week!!!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Wish I had an oxygen mask

I had a pretty miserable ride home today. The train was so crowded. It was raining outside so people came into the train all smelly and wet, and even worse, the train operator didn't turn on the AC so the air was dead and muggy, with fogged up windows.

There is a culinary academy near the Civic Center station, so around 5 to 6pm, there are always a mass of culinary students in their chef outfits and cutlery kit waiting for the train. Today, I happened to sit next to a student who seemed like he had a very bad day at school. He stunk of garlic and onions, he was sweating profusely, and his white chef uniform had yellow, green, red, and orange stains all over!

I had already grabbed my seat when I saw him entering the train. I remember thinking to myself....oh god, he must smell bad, look at how dirty his uniform is, please don't let him sit next to me, please! But of course, he takes a seat right next to me, and his cutlery case even hit my head! Ouch!

I had to endure his not-so-pleasant mixture of scents until MacArthur station which is 7 stations past Civic Center. I tried to cover the smell by chewing three pieces of gum, so the mintiness overwhelms my nose. Even after he left, the smell stayed with the seat. I was relieved to finally exit the train at my stop....to get a deep breath of fresh and cool air! Gosh...fresh air sure smells good.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Phone camera freak

There was a man on BART today testing out his new phone's camera features. Nothing wrong with testing phone cameras on BART, but please snap shots of the floor, lights, doors, seats, or your own shoes...or something like that. This man directly pointed his camera at me, and kept on taking pictures. I'm sure he has no bad intentions and merely wanted to test out his camera phone, but it was really awkward and made me feel extremely uncomfortable. I kept on lowering my head...pretending I was falling asleep, sinking lower and lower off my seat.

Is it just me or is this a privacy infringement here? I've tested my camera once but took a shot of the floor! I don't just point it at someone on the train and start snapping! What a freak....

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

PLEASE wash your hair!

BART was on time today, and I got a seat next to a normal person. BUT (there always is a but with my BART experience) the man sitting directly in the seat in FRONT of me made my ride quite miserable.

This man had a head full of oily long curly hair and dandruff. He puts his head back on the seat to try to sleep during the ride, and as a result, I get the beautiful view of his greasy locks with large white flakes all over.

Each time he moves his head, I feel like the flakes are going to fall off. I was disgusted but yet, for some sick twisted reason, I couldn't help but continue to stare and examine the flakes and was actually trying to figure out why he had such flakes. I saw that he actually did not have a head full of hair! He was bald on the top, and probably grew out his long curly hair to cover the bald spot (did a good job too!) The oiliness and dandruff were probably caused by serious lack of washing...which was probably brought upon by his fear of losing more hair! He had at least 4 or 5 flakes intertwined in each strand of oily curly hair. Altogether, he probably had more than 100 flakes. So nasty. I was just begging to myself...please don't move your head to suddenly...please don't let any of those flakes fall on me.

As disgusting as my view was in front of me, the dandruff man kept me "entertained" throughout the ride. Before I realized, I was at my stop!