Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Rock-a-Bye (plastic) Baby....

Shocking revelation during my morning ride. In the handicapped reserved seat was a middle aged woman, with a small, older baby carriage, and 3 beach bags filled with things. In her arm, she carefully cradled a baby wrapped in a blanket. The whole time, she was talking to the baby, "hi sweet pea, we're almost there. just sleep tight. almost there, honey. mommy loves you. yes, she does!" It was really cute. I didn't see the baby but I thought, this is a nice way to start my day, seeing a mom totally loving her newborn. So sweet. SO I THOUGHT.....

Before I exited the train, I smiled at her and made an effort to try to smile at her baby too. Instead, I was horrified. The baby was a pinkish plastic doll, wrapped in a baby blue and yellow blanket. I was in disbelief. I looked twice, three times....finally confirmed that this baby is fake! She was talking to a plastic doll the whole time. I didn't have much time before the door opened to examine the woman again to see if she just might be a little mental. She didn't look crazy, the only thing strange about her was the extremely old carriage and the 3 very large and full bags of things. I didn't think anything of it because maybe she is reusing an older carriage, and maybe she had to carry diapers, toys, clothing..etc. for the baby.

I am not sure what to think....soon after I got to work, I forgot about the incident. But, it was frightening because the way she was speaking to this 'baby" was as if she loved her dearly and that this child was the most important thing to her in this world.

Maybe she never recovered from a death of a child many years ago? I don't know..but this was a bit shocking and sad to see.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Skunk onboard

A passenger this morning must have stepped on some skunk roadkill or had just been sprayed by a skunk because that entire section of the train (sadly, my section) smelled like a skunk! It was unbearable. Not even breathing underneath my magazine helped. The scent seemed to have permeated through the cloth on the seats and the carpet...you cannot escape it. After I got off, I was very concerned that it was on my clothes. I couldn't tell though, after sniffing my coat and sweater multiple times. So far, no one has told me I smell like a skunk, so I guess I'm OK for now.

On a different matter, I found out from a friend who has family members working for BART that BART employees are quite well paid (that I've known or at least suspected). He has an aunt and uncle who worked as front-office staff and were paid very handsomely. However, he also told me that he had a cousin who worked for BART for a brief time (got the job because of the family connection.) He worked as the person who took out change from the ticket/change dispensers. My friend said his cousin got paid $25-$30 an hour...and that was like 5 years ago!!! I have not personally verified these numbers but assuming this is all true, why must we pay $25-$30 an hour (5 years ago, so today probably over $35) to a change attendee?! I've only heard rumors about the train operators' wages and the station agents' wages and how high they are....but knowing this hourly wage, I can only imagine theirs to be quadrupled this pay rate, if not more.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Get a room, please!

Before I get into my BART experience today, I'd like to point out that this is not a matter of heterosexual PDA (public display of affections) or homosexual PDA. It just is unacceptable and inconsiderate to subject your surrounding passengers to excessive physical displays of love.

Today, in a delayed, overly-crowded train, I was standing uncomfortably between a mass of people, and just happened to be situated in front of a gay couple seated in the designated senior/handicapped seats. Cool, happy couple, I thought, nice to see that love exists, even on BART. That is until they started rubbing and stroking each other's thighs up and down, and then massaging each other's necks and making all sorts of sounds!! At every stop, they go into massive make-out sessions, making the rest of us standing literally 5 inches away from them extremely uncomfortable. Finally, one of them had arrived at his stop I guess, and they gave each other a long passionate good-bye kiss. Suddenly, the recorded train message announced, "stand clear of the doors". The guy ran out frantically, wiping his mouth, while his boyfriend, yelled, "I love you! I'll call you tonight!"

I am all for love, but I can't stand it when couples have to act out their love in a confined, crowded space like a rush-hour BART train!!

I once cringed the whole trip because a girl was seated on top of her boyfriend (straddling), and making out in front of everybody. It was sick, inconsiderate, and classless. Not to mention they left one seat unused but yet unusable!

I see couples who commute together on BART all the time. Usually, they sit (or stand) together, maybe hold hands, and give each other a quick good-bye peck when they part. I appreciate it when couples are discrete. I mean, keep your PDA at home!

A couple side notes:
* Embarcadero escalators are STILL broken!!!
* Rain has finally stopped, but BART trains are still delayed! So I guess they can't blame rain now...what can they blame the delays on?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A not-so-pleasant view from the train

I didn't bring any reading materials today and finished going through my Blackberry early, so I decided to look out the window, relax, and enjoy the view! What I saw today was absolutely appalling!! Don't get me wrong, the Bay Area is beautiful! I think SF is one of the most beautiful cities in the world!!! The bay view on a sunny day will make any one smile and feel grateful that they live here. But, there is no view of the Bay from BART. The trains travel underneath groundlevel 50% of the time on the East Bay to SF routes.

Today..it was rainy again...it's been raining nonstop since February. Looking outside the window, I saw a homeless man, with his pants down, rear-end bearing, squatting, taking a #2 underneath the freeway, right before we go underground to the Oakland 19th Street BART exit. Thankfully I didn't actually see whether anything has come out yet, and I fear for the passengers in the train cart behind mine because if they are looking outside the window, they will no doubt be seeing something coming from this man.

I always see homeless people sleeping in that area, but this is the first time I saw one "going to the bathroom." I guess they must relieve themselves somewhere!

A shocking view for me. I think I should stick with reading magazines or books from now on. The view from BART just isn't that pleasant.

Update on the Embarcadero escalator status- it's STILL broken. It's been broken for 2 weeks now.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Welcome to SF, buddy!

Just how tourist-friendly is BART and the Bay Area? Judging by today's observation, I would have to say not very. A man, who appears to be a tourist (he has a Euro accent, a huge backpack and 3 luggage pieces), looks at the train status sign, confused. The sign is flashing, "SFO 10 car train." He looks up at the sign, then inside the train, extremely tentative to step inside. He finally asks a passenger inside, "Does this go to San Francisco?" To my surprise, the passenger (standing by the door) responds, "No!" The tourist then says, "What's SFO? Not SF? No?" The passenger says, "No. Wrong train buddy." This man looked like a normal commuter so he must know that a SFO train passes by SF! I was too far from the conversation to yell out that yes, this does pass by all the SF stations! Apparently, no one else wanted to help out this tourist.

Finally, the tourist turns way from the train, asks someone standing in line at the station. As the train was pulling away, I am guessing by his expression that he found out that this train DOES go to SF, and he was the subject of a mean joke. He could only watch the train leave without him.

Not a great impression for the tourist to have of the SF Bay Area.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Tune-less on BART? Anyone else suffering from defective Nano? There is a solution!

Once upon a time, I used to rely on my iPod mini to block out the noise around me on BART. I would nod my head lightly to Usher, or walk down memory lane with some Luniz and Warren G., or soak in my despair with Enya. It's been about 6 months since I've been able to enjoy music on BART...ever since I gave away my mini iPod when I got my new Nano. However, within a day, I realized the on/off switch was busted. I could not turn it off once I took it off the charger. Or if I turned it off, I can't turn it on again until I put the charger back on! I would just use it once...let the battery run out. It became a one-time use only deal and then the Nano goes back on the charger before I can use it again.

It totally sucked!! I couldn't keep up with the daily charge requirement and as usual, I never keep receipts or those registration cards they give you in the box, so I figured it would be useless going to the Apple store since they are such sticklers on receipts. All I want to do is buy a new product that works for at least a year or two!!

I gave up...I accepted my bad luck and just figured that my new Nano had a permanent defect and there was nothing I can do about it. I've been tune-less on BART since.

HOWEVER...my coworker showed me that Apple actually CARES about you and that the defective on/off button on Nano was a known defect. There is a way to send back the defective Nano without a receipt and get a new one.

To find out about the Nano recall, just register at: http://depot.info.apple.com/ipod/

It was simple! Within a day, I got a DHL box to send in my defective Nano. I finally dropped off the box and according to my coworker, I will get a new Nano within 2 days. We'll see...but this is great news nonetheless.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Another wet day!

Today, it wasn't just raining, it was pouring! The train was just 3-4 minutes delayed but it was completely packed with soaked passengers. Wet umbrellas and raincoats were sticking to my clothes, purse, and worst of all, my magazine! It was infuriating seeing the pages of my new US Weekly absorb the leftover drain drops off people's raincoats as they squeezed into the train.

The most frustrating part of the journey this morning was the Embarcadero Station's out of service escalators. These escalators (both sides) were out of service yesterday AND today! The past two days, the staircase have caused a huge line (or actually mass of people in chaos), causing at least a 3 minute delay exiting the station. You've got people with suitcases who have to carry it up the stairs. You've got people who are physically unable to walk up the stairs at a normal pace. You've got people who are also coming DOWN the stairs from streetlevel. Everyone is sharing a staircase that is about 4 feet wide. And ADD umbrellas on top of everyone's head and you've got a serious wet, crowded mess. The man in front of me was using a huge golf umbrella and the tips kept on poking at me that I had to protect my head with my flimsy miniature umbrella. He had no clue that his oversized umbrella was about to poke my eyes out.

Then, suddenly, the lines of people slow moving upwards came to a halt. This sudden stop caused everyone walking up the stairs to jam into the person in front. It was a cluster ****! The woman in back of me stepped on my right shoe causing me to trip and push the man in front for balance. I felt his glare, but the oversized umbrella saved me from seeing his pissed off face.

I walked into the office this morning with the bottom 2 inches of my pants wet. It was impossible today to avoid puddles since they've become mini ponds.

I just hope the escalators will be fixed tomorrow.