Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I witnessed man-hands with my own eyes today

Do you remember that Seinfeld episode where Jerry was dating a woman that had extraordinarily masculine hands? Large and muscular?

Well, I saw a woman with man-hands today. I was standing behind her, facing her back. It was very crowded on the Pittsburgh/BayPoint train today around quitting time, so I was probably standing just 6 inches behind her. From the back, it was clear that she was female. Her slacks, her purse, her medium-length wavy hair, and her shoes. After about half way through my ride, I looked up on the vertical safety bar. I saw my right hand, another older woman's hand, and two pairs of male hands.

I knew who the older woman's hand belonged to.....there was an elderly woman standing next to me. I also knew there was a man standing in front of the woman whose back I faced. I was very puzzled at this point.....who did that second male hand belonged to? There is no way that this large, meaty, hairy hand with 5 overly clipped, wide and short nails belonged to a woman! This was the hand of a masculine plumber or lumberjack. The fist around the pole was strong and large....larger than the size of a softball (not baseball). And as that Seinfeld episode described, this hand certainly can break open a lobster, without tools.

I cautiously eyed the hand to match the arm and body. I was in shock that the hand belonged to the woman standing in front of me!! I've never seen a woman with such masculine and HAIRY hands!

Only Seinfeld will think of these random things! Gosh I miss that show. As much as I still enjoy the re-runs no matter how many times I've seen them, there really hasn't been, and probably will never be a new sitcom that is as witty and funny as Seinfeld.

a rare feeling of community on bart

I actually left the morning BART train today feeling good, feeling that there are decent people left in this world.

In a semi-crowded train today, an elderly couple walked in. About 4 seated passengers jumped up to give them the seat. Then 2 other passengers gave up their seat to the 2 people who surrendered their seats to the elderly couple. I was standing in the back of the train, but observed this rare moment of good citizenship and community with a smile.

I walked off the train feeling positive and hopeful today. This type of consideration really doesn't happen often on BART. I'm not sure if it's because it's a sunny day (after 4 or 5 days of consecutive rain), or this train just happened to be filled with good people, but it was a pleasant display of selflessness.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

time for some acknowledgements

Thought I would dedicate today's entry to a couple special recognitions.

There are many dark days on BART, but it is very refreshing when you have a train operator who is cheerful, eloquent, speaks clearly and audibly, updates you whenever the train suddenly comes to a complete stop, and actually knows which station is coming up next! My appreciation goes to the the female train operator for the 8:00am train this morning.

Now, I'd like to make a different type of acknowledgement. My coworker, A.V., shares my sentiments towards BART and public transportation in general. But his recent experiences top any of mine! Poor A.V. was on a BART train with urine on a seat, and just yesterday, while on MUNI (SF public transportation system), he was in the middle (literally, inside the subway train) of a police chase and lost his designer sunglasses through the ordeal.

Lastly, special thanks for reading my rants on BART musings. Writing these entries have been therapeutic!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A real class act

If you are familiar with my blogs, you probably guessed correctly that I was being sarcastic.

Ride home today was very crowded, no surprise. But what did surprise me was that a man, probably in his 30s, decided to take BART, topless. He had tennis shoes with loose, untied laces, dragging white sweat pants, a matching white beret tilted sideways, and no shirt on! In his hands, was a crumbled up, oily KFC paper take-out bag. Very classy, as you can imagine.

I don't know why anyone would go out in public topless, especially on a cold day. Sure, the sun is finally back out again, but we're still talking about the mid to high-50s! It's not 85 degrees out there?? But even if it is, at least cover yourself up in public, especially in an overcrowded BART train.

The funny thing was, he left at 12th Street/Oakland City Center Station, and many standing passengers, including myself, were eyeing the empty seat. But knowing that his semi-hairy, body touched the seats without clothing in between, no one sat down. Finally, an unknowning rider who just entered the train happily took the seat.

What can I say....BART is full of surprises.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

what happens when there is a 40 to 60 minute bart delay?

That was what happened today. At 6:12pm, I got into the Embarcadero station and walked straight into a sea of people waiting in what used to be lines. I found out that there hasn't been a Dublin or Pittsburgh Baypoint train in over 20 minutes. Then, the announcer gave us the dreadful news: Pittwburgh Baypoint train was still 0ver 20 minutes away, and Dublin train was over 30 minutes away.

Embarcadero is the last stop before the transbay tube connecting to the East Bay. Being the last stop, the train is usually at full capacity by the time it reaches Embarcadero. With the 40 minute Pittsburgh Baypoint train delay, I was very fortunate to be the first one in line to take the last square foot of standing room left on the train. However, with about 25+ people behind me still, and no 2nd train in sight, they had no choice but to squeeze in. The train was so packed that the woman (thank goodness, she is a woman) was leaning against my chest and her purse between my legs. The vertical safety pole was filled with hands that I couldn't even see the black rubber strip anymore. I couldn't breath because there really was no oxygen left on the train. I was plastered between the bart door and a female passenger with ZERO centimeter between us. Her hair was all over my face, and her jacket was lined against my body, literally.

Everyone was getting on my nerves, to say the least. A man who yawned openly without covering his mouth-- exhaling into my face. A woman who chewed her fingers throughout the entire ride and made visible wounds with her teeth. A girl who stared at my face as entertainment- so closely that she can count my pores. A man who had a suitcase blocking the entry/exit door, but refused to move it to let people get off the train.

It was just a very very bad ride home today. The entire experience took me over an hour!

Friday, January 13, 2006

campaigning on BART

Check out this San Francisco Chronicle article on anti-abortion ads on BART enraging passengers.

I don't find any political/social banners on BART offensive, and even if one day, there is a political ad with a message that is totally against my personal beliefs, I would just ignore it and not express my disagreement, not to BART, and not by defacing the ads. Americans forget how fortunate we are to live in a country where speech and expression are protected under law. Why shouldn't pro-lifers and religious groups have the right to communicate their message? Why should BART get reprimanded for allowing these ads? Why can't pro-choice activists contain their emotions and bring their debate to an appropriate forum instead of tearing off these ads like unreasonable children?

Taking an objective stance on this, I thought the outrage was unnecessary. We are all entitled to our own beliefs and opinions, so why not let others exercise their right to speak and express?

More practically, BART advertising revenues probably in some way have slowed additional fee hikes. So why not just allow all point of views the right to communicate their message?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

innocent until proven guilty

Very interesting observation today on BART ride home today. I am not going to make any judgments because one is innocent until proven guilty, right?

On a very crowded train this evening, two people caught my attention. No one ever talks on BART- people are usually sleeping, reading, listening to music, checking their treos/blackberries, or just staring into space. So, whenever people talk to each other (or on the phone), they have to just assume that the entire train is listening.

A man who appear to be in his late 30s and a woman in her late 20s perhaps, both sharpy dressed in a suit, each carrying a leather brief case, were talking to each other. In my first glance, I instantly assumed they are a couple, whether dating, engaged, or married, because of the way they were talking to one another. They were standing very closely, with arms touching, leaning towards each other, laughing, flirting, and seemed very comfortable. In a couple instances, she dusted lint off his jacket, and he held her purse while she took off her coat. Cool, I thought, they are lucky...I wish I can ride BART with my husband too since that would make the ride a lot more tolerable.

But then, I started listening to their conversation. (No, I wasn't being nosey! No one else was talking on BART so their conversation stood out. Besides, they were standing next to my seat.)The man was speaking loud enough that I could clearly hear what he was saying. I kept on hearing, "well, my mother in-law would probably...." and a few more times about "my mother in-law" and "my family over the holidays." I thought that was very strange. Why would he refer to his mother in-law in such way if he's talking to the woman he is married to? Wouldn't his mother in-law be her mom?

I then started looking for wedding bands. He had one, she didn't. It doens't mean that they are not married but it sure is fishy. Out of boredom, I started over-analyzing. Maybe he's her boss and they just got off work (since they were talking about work too), hence the age difference. Maybe she's one of those "younger women" who like to go after her boss? She did look like she was very much in love and in admiration, with her puppy eyes gazing into his and leaning close to him.

Whatever their relationship was, it was suspicious. The "mother in-law" and "my family" comments really threw me off. I do very much look down on those who cheat, but I hope in this case (for the real wife's sake), that was not the case and he remains devoted to his wife, if that woman is not her.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

thank you, young woman in the beige jacket, brown bag, and pony tail

I sprained my ankle over the weekend and had to come into the work yesterday with a cane to shift the weight off my left ankle. I am normally a very fast walker and one of those people who run up the escalators instead of standing along for the ride. It was very frustrating and very tiring to be hobbling around with a cane. It took me 10 minutes to walk a distance that usually takes me 3.

On my way to work, the train was crowded. I knew instantly that there weren't any seats left for me to rest my legs, but yet, I was too proud to look like I needed one or ask someone if I can take their seat. I do have one good leg left and I definitely could stand. But as the train started moving and stopping, it was evident that I had some trouble balancing. Still, I made every attempt to look like I can handle it. But inside, I was just wondering how could it be that no one has even asked me if I'd like to sit down? If I had a seat and saw someone noticeably hobbling, I would have definitely asked them to take my seat. So this was a litle disconcerting. Was it because I am young (or at least not an elderly?) Was it because i didn't have a cast on? (I only had ace bandage wrapped around my foot and ankle.) Anyhow, I stood and managed to balance the 30 minute ride into the city.

On the way home, the train was yet again crowded. But a nice woman in a beige jacket, brown bag, and long pony tail instantly offered me her seat. I asked her if she's sure, and expressed my appreciation. I was grateful- I was pretty tired from swinging left and right to take a tiny step. Glad to know that there are still considerate people left in this world.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

there's just something about a nice shopping bag

I observed an interesting behavior on bart yesterday. A woman got extremely pissed off at a man for stepping on and crushing her Saks Fifth Avenue shopping bag. The man yelled back, "lady, it's just a shopping bag."

Believe it or not, I understand both sides. The train was crowded, it was late, and the man, standing, was being pushed around by other passengers getting onto the packed train. It wasn't his fault that his foot went over the formerly-perfect, glossy and thick Saks shopping bag. And he's right, it is JUST a shopping bag.

On the other hand, there really is just something special about a nice shopping bag, from a nice store, whether the merchandise itself carries a lot of value or not. If it's just a brown Macy's bag, or a white Banana Republic bag, one may not protect it as carefully...since they're a dime a dozen. Nice bags from nice stores carry a certain special sense of aura-- like a blue Tiffany's bag. How many times do you see someone saving those, or even use it later to carry their lunch or whatever it is in there that is obviously not jewelry? I don't know why, but I save nice thick bags too. Coach shopping bags, Tiffany's, Barney's, TSE, Prada (no, I don't go there much at all, I just saved the only 2 bags that I had from there.)

This woman was protecting her Saks bag between her feet, but still, it got crushed. Maybe the bag (and the content) was a gift, maybe she bought something expensive, or maybe she just wants no creases or wrinkles at all on that glossy bag, but whatever the reason, she was absolutely OUTRAGED that the right side of the bag was crushed.

Funny, the little things that make us upset. I suppose if I had just made a proud purchase at Burberry inside a beautifully designed and glossy Burberry shopping bag, I would be a little annoyed that a stranger smashed it, although I don't think I would yell at him. Afterall, it's just a bag!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

back to work it is

I've been on vacation in Spain the past 11 days, so it's really been nice to get a little break from BART and the daily grind. We took BART from SFO back to Lafayette last night, and it was surprisingly smooth. We had seats, the connection to our train was seamless, and it proved to be much better than driving back from a long trip. My opinion of BART rose a bit, and I was ready to start the new year with a good attitude about my commute.

Today started out a bit rough. I was running a little late, so I ran with heels from the parking lot to the station. As I got closer to the ticketing machine, I looked at my watch....I had one minute to get on the train. I thought I was home free until I looked up and saw over 50 high school students blocking the ticket entryway as they slowly made their way through. I was so irritated, as were all the other daily commuters. Commuters know to have their ticket ready, push through the ticket and walk through swiftly. These kids were socializing, laughing, didn't have the right amount on their ticket, tried to sneak food in...etc. Needless to say, I didn't make it to the train in time...it took them about 2-3 minutes to get past the ticketing machine.

I took the later train, but one advantage was that I got a seat since it was less crowded. I was pleased until 2 stops later when a masculine woman stood next to me and my chair. I had a strange feeling about her from the start. She didn't hold on to the overhead pole with one hand like most people, instead, she hung her two arms over the overhead pole (she's very tall), wide apart, kind of like a gorilla. Then, I felt her heavy breath blowing down on me.....bad breath too. Bad mix of coffee, morning breath, and phlegm. I had to turn my head away from her to get some fresh air.

Just when I thought it was bad enough, she started coughing hard. Since her arms were hanging over the safety pole (like a gorilla, may I remind you,) she wasn't able to cover her mouth when she coughed (at least I'll make that excuse for her.) So, she coughed, again and again, over my head. I actually saw my hairs move due to her coughs.

It gets worse!!! Never on BART have I heard someone fart outloud. I smell farts and burps from other passengers constantly on BART, but no one had the audacity to do it aloud. Well, this woman did. She let out 2 loud farts...next to me. Try to picture this in your head....I was seated, and she was standing. Because she was tall, her butt came to about where my face was. The farts stunk....I was disgusted, so was the passenger seated next to me. I looked up at gorilla woman to see if she is embarrassed at all by this...but not at all. She seemed like this was the normal thing to do.

Very gross ride today. Not to mention, BART fares rose to $4.00 each way!!!!