Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Any day now!!!!

I love the holidays for so many reasons. The one reason related to BART is that during the holidays, especially starting this week, the trains begin to get emptier because more and more people go on vacation. It's now 12/20 and the passenger volume has not declined at all yet! Maybe since Xmas day is Sunday, people are not taking as many days off!

I haven't gotten a seat yet this week. I'm hoping tomorrow will be the day when empty seats are not as hard to come by.

Friday, December 16, 2005

seat fight

No, I didn't personally get into a seat fight, but I observed one yesterday. I was too tired to get in the middle of the argument, but I should have. Let me describe the situation to you first.

Lining up for the train back to East Bay from SF were (in this order): a woman in her 40s, a man in his 40s, and me. Before the train even stopped, I noticed from the line that there is only one more seat left. I think the man in front of me saw it too. However, the woman slowly walks into the train, and turns the opposite direction from the empty seat. The man sets his backpack on the empty seat, and positions himself to sit down.

Suddenly, the woman yells, "That is my seat!! I was in front of you in line, I am going to sit there, not you!"
The man says, "You can have the seat, but how is it your seat?"
Woman screams, "I was standing in front of you in line."
Man yells back, "But you walked the opposite direction, and I took the seat after."
Woman says, "it doesn't matter, I was in front of you in line outside, so that is supposed to be my seat."
Man concludes, "Hey, you can have the seat, but it doens't have your name on it."

I was listening to the entire altercation. I should have jumped in to tell the woman, no, it's NOT your seat, you walked the other way as you entered the train, and he saw the seat first! But alas, the work day completely drained me so I wasn't in an argumentative mood. That woman made NO sense whatsoever. She walked away from the seat! She never made eye contact with the empty chair until the man sat down! How could she have been so self-righteous? On BART, you lose your place in line once you enter the train and start wondering around for a seat or standing space.

See what happens to people when they depend on public transportation? Grouchy, self-righteous, petty...you name it! If that woman had told ME to get out of a seat that I was entitled to, I probably would have caused a little more of a scene than the man did.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Horrible delays today

Today is one of those days that I ask myself....is taking BART really a better option than braving the Bay Bridge traffic??

It was 43 degrees in Lafayette at 8:15am, and I was standing out there in the cold (and very windy conditions) waiting for the BART train to arrive. NO train came by for 25 minutes! And we got NO explanation why there's such a delay.

Then, a train zipped by..and the monitors said "TRAIN WON'T STOP" while ther are probably over 250 of us waiting to get to work (about 25 people waiting per cart line.) Finally, 25 minutes late, a completely packed train arrives. Only 3 of us could fit in there. I had to get to work, so I squeezed in despite other people's grumblings to fit another body in the train.

The entire ride, I stared right into another man's face. It was beyond crowded. I was practically holding hands with another passenger on the safety pole because there were too many hands that needed to hold on to the pole.

There is a happy ending, however. I happened to be standing in front of a seated passenger who got up at downtown Oakland. I sat down as soon as she got up and enjoyed reading my new US Weekly the rest of the way.

Monday, December 12, 2005

love is blind

wow, shocking observation today. first, to those of you who are quick to judge, i know this entry may sound bad, but believe me, i know and respect that appearance is not the reason why couples get together and live happily ever after!

now, on to my story. ever since my new job, i've been enjoying bart a little tiny bit more. the ride is 5 minutes shorter now each way, and i don't have to run up 4 flights of stairs to try to catch a connecting shuttle. this morning, i caught a peculiar sight while i was taking a break from my reading. i saw an above-avereage looking man, well-groomed, slender, tall, holding an expensive briefcase, and nicely dressed in a suit walk into the train. then, i saw a grungy, messy-haired, multi-layered sox over birkinstocks and hole-filled sweater wearing, not to mention below-average looking woman holding on to his back. my first thought was, whoa, poor man, who is that weird-looking stranger grasping on to him? what is he going to do to get rid of her?

then...i saw him holding on to her back, and letting her take the last seat! the whole time, he had one hand on her shoulder and they whispered to each other. cute couple interactions...i must say, but i certainly was surprised by the pairing. of course, being an observer, that is all i can go by. sure, they looked like an odd match (a very very odd one), but i am sure there is much more to their pairing than just looks.

it's really refreshing that there still are people in this world who can look beyond appearances and fall in love for what's inside.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

getting the last seat in a crowded train is like...

finding a $20 on the street! Yes, it feels that good!! When you are the 8th person out of 15 people lining up in front of one train car, and as the train approaches, you spot just a few empty seats so you assume that you won't be one of the lucky 3 or 4 who enter the train first. This was me today! There were at least 7 people lining up in front of me today to get in to the train car. Instantly, I thought, crap, another standing trip to SF for me with people breathing on me. However, 4 people inmy line just happened to turn to the side of the train without empty seats (they don't have the eagle eyes that I have when it comes to spotting empty seats), and another in front of me just happened to walk inside too slowly and lost his "place" in line. I saw the last seat there, and without making any eye contact with other passengers around me, I sat down! I felt so lucky and so grateful...like I won some kind of small jackpot.

Quickly, the train filled up! Every square foot was occupied! But there I was...SITTING, not standing, and reading a book.

I felt lucky, happy, relieved, and proud to get that last seat. Why proud you ask? Well, for me to get that last empty seat, it meant that I left the house at the right time, I parked fast enough, and jogged up the escalators quickly enough to be the 8th, not 9th person in line!

See the little things that make you foolishly happy when you ride BART?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

I'm a good BART "citizen"...I think?

Since I spend so many entries writing about others and how they irk me, I figured it is only fair that I evaluate myself as a BART passenger.

1) Cleanliness

I definitely give myself a 10 out of 10 here. I shower 3 times a day, including mornings. I always wear clean clothes, and I never smell or sweat BART.

2) Size

Another 10 here I suppose. I weigh a little over 100 pounds. I take about 2/3 of a seat, so people always like to sit next to me when there are only 2 seats left because I make it a roomy and comfy ride for them.

3) Consideration

This is a tricky one. I am usually very considerate on BART, but I don't ever let others take advantage of me. I warrant a 7 out of 10 here. I get out of the way for people to enter/exit, I never let my belongings take more room than necessary, I don't take off my shoes, I don't eat on the train, I don't swing my umbrella in people's faces, and I ALWAYS cover my nose or mouth when I cough or sneeze...those are the good things.

On the other hand, if I get a good seat that is in the general seating area (non-handicapped), I stay in it. I don't want to give my seat up to any older person, unless they have a cane or look like they are limping. If it's just a gray-haired person who looks perfectly able to stand for 15 minutes, I am going to let my tired feet rest. I mentioned in one of the first blog entries that an older (not senior citizen) person can't just feel entitled to take anyone's seat- some have the guts to ask, but I don't think that makes it right.

Another slightly inconsiderate thing that I do is not give up my standing room next to a vertical pole because I need something to grab on without tiptoeing. There are bars on the top of the train that I cannot comfortably reach, so I am pretty stubborn about standing next to the vertical poles in the front. Hey, it's a matter of survival at this point. I don't want to fall on the ground when the train jerks!

4) Behavior

Again, I am 7 out of 10 here. I am a very normal person- I don't blabber to strangers, I don't read over people's reading materials, and I don't over-blast my iPod. However, I am guilty of looking at the "weirdos" a little too long and sometimes I even flash a look of disgust or annoyance when things get pretty bad (meaning when they specifically encroach on my comfort zone). But I am just a silent observer...I'm harmless.

Others who observe me, however, may think I'm a little anal. I have Purell to clean my hands as I exit the train. I also don't ever encircle the safety poles with my hands/palms. In fact, this is probably the weirdest thing about me, I hold the pole with 2 fingers: my index finger and my thumb, while the other 3 fingers flare out erectly to stay away from the germ-filled pole. Sometimes, when the pole is really sweaty and dirty (that you can see sweat left on there), my thumb takes the burden of balancing my entire weight during the ride. I press my thumb against the pole and swing my body back and forth to the motion of the train in a delicate manner...it's a tough balancing act that I've mastered. So yeah, I am a freak too....but I don't like the thought of transplanting someone's elses germs right into my palm.

Overall, I do think I'm a good BART "citizen"...10, 10, 7, 7 makes a nice 8.5 average.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

BART on rainy days

It's been raining hard the past couple of days, especially today! Rainy days are not pretty for BART commuters. BART is rarely able to keep up the schedule when it's pouring, and the train ride itself is much uglier when it's raining. For one, everyone is either carrying a dripping wet umbrella or a drenched raincoat, or just plain wet and stinky. Due to the delays, the trains are always over-packed! And due to the overcrowdedness, the windows fog up, the train gets uncomfortably warm with a layer of sweaty scent, since it is so hot inside the train. from too many bodies.

There is just nothing like walking into a completely foggy train....so foggy that you can't see through the windows at all. You will read all sorts of backwards writing (using a finger) from bored passengers inside the train. I can read "olleh", "em evas", or even "uoy kcuf". Occasionally, you'd see someone smart enough to write backwards so their immature message can be read by those of us lining up for the train.

Today was a miserably crowded ride with wet and grouchy people. Several people shook their excess umbrella water in the crowded train, and got my face all wet! After that, the person standing next to me kept his drenched raincoat on during the ride and invaded my space as the train got crowded and got my wool coat wet! Not to mention I was 5 minutes late to my new job due to the BART delays.

I sure hope it dries up soon!