Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A "captive" audience

Thanks to my good friend R.S. for reminding me to write about interesting people who sell things, perform, or beg on BART.

There are too many to write about, so I will just list a few of them out:

1) A middle-aged woman walks around in old and dirty gym clothes telling people waiting in line that someone stole her purse so she has no money to get home and asking if we can spare $1. I almost fell for it but overheard the man in front of me tell her, "You asked me the same thing yesterday and the day before." She had to quickly think of an excuse and said, "Yes, I've been here since then, and still need money to get home." The worst part is, SO MANY people fell for her trick. I think she probably gets at least $100 a day with that false story.

2) Once, while on a train ride home, a woman fights her way to the middle of the train and starts belching out "Ave Maria." It was so loud that those of us standing close to her were visibly annoyed. No one looked at her while she was singing and when she was done, no one clapped or gave her money in her hat. Everyone was grouchy and uncomfortable and her singing just wasn't appreciated in that cramped condition. Besides, it wasn't that great...just loud.

3) A frail old man walked towards me during a train ride to ask me, "would you like to get closer to God"? I didn't want to be rude and tell him to leave me alone, so I said, "thanks, I'm OK." He then asked everyone else on the train, one by one, whether they would like to get closer to God. Some people ignored him, others said, no thanks. Daily BART commuters really just don't want to be bothered. We just want to sit quietly (or stand, in most cases), and do our reading or stare into space.

4) I know that BART riders have nowhere to go while on the train, but there is just something totally wrong when a mother brings her daughters to sell Girl Scout cookies from train to train. It's dangerous for kids to walk around and try to maintain their balance during the stop and go. It's not safe for passengers either to try to take out their wallet with one hand while holding on to a safety bar with the other. That is just irresponsible parenting, don't you think?

5) An obviously drunken man (he might be high too) has a cellphone clipped to his jeans. However, he walked around the train, literally spitting out the request, "got any quarters to spare so I can make a call?" You can smell the alcohol and whatever else he has consumed 10 feet away. Everyone was cringing while anticipating him visiting their area next to ask for money. I didn't check if his cellphone had enough battery life left for him to make a call, but I somehow doubt the money he's asking for will be going into a payphone.

There are many more stories but these are just a few interesting examples! BART is never boring, that's for sure!

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