Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Making a living INSIDE BART trains

During a smooth ride this morning, I saw a kid, he's probably no more than 6 years old, selling a Costco-sized box of Snickers bars for $2 each, up and down the trains. I believe his mom, who appears to be no more than 25 years old, was standing at the end of each train, monitoring him, carrying another Costco-sized box of Snickers. It doesn't look like these chocolate bars are affiliated with any organizations or fundraising efforts. It purely looked like they were selling is.

Although he is quite a cute little thing as he walks up the aisle, saying "Anyone want to buy a Snickers bar? $2 only. Snickers? Snickers? ", there really is something wrong with this picture.

While he was within my view, 2 Snickers bars were sold. The box was half he must have made some sales in other train cars. I think he could have done better in the afternoon as passengers tend to be more in need of a sugar boost. But then, I guess food isn't allowed on BART to begin with...yet another reason he shouldn't be selling these candy bars on the train.

Shouldn't he be in school? How can his mother let him do that up and down the trains? Has someone alerted the train operator?

But then again, I had to think from their perspective. Maybe they are struggling to keep food on the table and need this money? I don't know what to think but I hope this is just a very temporary solution for that family.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Did I help them or embarrass them instead?

For a sleeping Monday morning, I was pretty darn observant. I generally read my Treo, my magazine, or stare blankly at the window, but today, for whatever reason, I saw two passengers wearing brand new tops to work: one woman had the size sticker on (a long strip of adhesive that says L L L L L) and a man who had a price tag from Nordstrom sticking out of his left sleeve!

I was surprised that I was so observant! Not one but TWO passengers?? Maybe it's because my husband just wore a brand new shirt to work and I had to do the tag check on him....but for whatever reason, I felt obligated to tell them.

So I politely told them both. They were very embarrassed and immediately removed the size adhesive and price tag. What I didn't MEAN to do was make everyone around us look at them and chuckle!

Hope I didn't embarrass them too much. I really only had good intentions in mind!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Experiment Update - 1

On August 4th, I mentioned a little experiment I am conducting on BART. It's really just for fun and I expect nothing profound out of it. I was really just curious how often do seated passengers offer up their seat to a visibly pregnant woman who may or may not be struggling with balance. I'm further along in my pregnancy now (30.5 weeks to be exact) and certainly visibly pregnant. I'm not huge but anyone would recognize that I am expecting. So far, no one has offered me a seat. It's OK, I'm holding on and balancing just fine on my own still. Not expecting anyone to offer me special treatment since in the years of people-watching on BART, I rarely witnessed seats being offered to pregnant women.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Were you affected by the cracked rail this morning??

Luckily, today was my San Jose day...I go to SJ once a week since most of my department is based there.

I heard the delays were pretty horrendous this morning, platforms were packed beyond standing room capacity, passengers were confused and frustrated, tourists demanding refunds, kids crying and screaming, and no one could easily figure out what was going on since the announcements over the PA were inaudible and BART personnel were not readily available to answer questions. With the heat, I can only imagine how bad things were.

Were you personally affected too? How bad was it?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Anyone else got the Olympics fever?

I've been watching the Olympics telecast nonstop-- even when the results are already known! I've always enjoyed watching swimming, but even events like beach volleyball, diving, and ping pong have been fun to watch. Every evening this week, I'm just glued to the TV, flipping between different Olympics programming channels. It's exciting! Whether it's Phelps, USA Basketball, or something as obscure as handball, I'm glad the Olympics are here. I'm actually more of a Winter Olympics fan but this 08 Olympics has been addictive to follow.

Now, why am I talking about this? Seems like lots of people have caught the Olympics fever. I hear people talking about it on BART platforms, trains, lines at supermarkets/drugstores, lines for coffee...etc. Olympics has actually brought some level of friendliness to the daily commute! I haven't personally initiated any conversations around Olympics w/ strangers but I've had strangers commenting to me about Michael Phelps and asking me if I saw....I, of course, watched all his events and responded accordingly!

So, do you have the Olympics fever too?

Monday, August 11, 2008

One more week of comfort and relaxation on BART before....

We have one more week of comfort and relaxation on BART before some local universities begin. After that, lots will be more packed, seats will no longer be vacant, trains in general will just be more crowded and tighter. Then after Labor Day weekend, parking lots will be over max capacity like pre-summer days, and there will be limited standing room on trains again.

The summer months are just so pleasant because we get to experience a more leisurely BART experience due to everyone taking vacations, colleges being out on break, people minimizing their work hours...etc. It's been a nice break from the typical hectic peak commute scene! :)

It'll be tough to say goodbye to these pleasant days. Enjoy this week, everyone!

Friday, August 08, 2008

BART train operator misses a turn! Nothing about BART surprises me anymore

Something I thought couldn't happen on BART happened this morning. Not during my ride, but the ride of a reader who was kind enough to let me share her story with everyone here. A train apparently took the wrong route by missing a turn. Is this human error? Computer glitch? It can't purely be a computer glitch without human data entry...

You've GOT TO READ THIS STORY below. Thanks, C.T. for sharing!

This morning I got on the 8:29 train from Hayward (headed toward Richmond), and all seemed well. I was peacefully reading my newspaper and ignoring the train conductor announcements, when I noticed that we had pulled into the West Oakland station.

Okay, I did get on the right train? The Richmond line does not go to West Oakland. We had been moving kind of slowly, but I didn’t think anything of it. The conductor (is that what they call them?) comes on in a CLEAR voice (unlike the monosyllabic station announcements) and mentions that we missed our turn. We missed our turn? WTF? How do you miss a turn on a train? Apparently, there was a little “computer” glitch that caused the train to head to San Francisco instead of Richmond.

We were detained at West Oakland and turned around. The conductor walked through the train to the other side (you know the snake-like qualities of BART are somewhat amusing) and headed to the other end, so that we could indeed head toward the North Bay. You could hear passengers everywhere whipping out those cell phones calling their bosses to explain their tardiness in advance. Somebody’s job interview DID NOT GO WELL.

Anyway, my usually uneventful 30 minute BART ride, turned in to a 60 minute ride. Thankfully, I didn’t have to transfer.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

It's also up to the passengers!

As much as we can blame BART for not doing more to keep the trains clean, or not maintaining the condition of the seats and carpeting, one thing I need to point out is the drastic difference between transit riders in Japan and some of the Bay Area passengers. Drinking and eating on trains are allowed in Japan. In fact, there are snack shops, vending machines, bakeries, restaurants everywhere around the stations and even on the platforms. I see people bring in breakfast rolls, coffee, canned iced tea onto the trains, and take bites and sips during the ride. However, what I also see are people meticulously cleaning after their own messes, and even the mess of others. Passengers, upon leaving the train, not only always dispose of their own trash, they also pick up loose pieces, if any, (whether it's napkin, an extra lid) left by others. Hey, I'm sure Japan has their litterbugs too but from what I observed daily, most people are very considerate.

Of course there are also people in the Bay Area who are cautious about not leaving any type of mess on the trains too, but it's generally those that break the no food/drink policy that don't care enough to clean up after themselves. As I've mentioned before, I've seen people eating Taco Bell and dripping sauce all over the seats and don't care. We've all seen coffee spills...yet the very next day, the same spiller brings in coffee yet again.

I'm not saying that it's the fault of passengers that BART trains aren't as clean as we'd like, but we also need to reflect our own actions. Most of you who read this blog are probably not the rule breakers though! Neither am I, although I do sneak in a piece of gum or Jolly Rancher into my mouth during rides....and don't worry, I always put away the wrappers so it's not left on the train :)

Monday, August 04, 2008

A new experiment

You might recall that I mentioned 3 months back that I'm presently pregnant with my first. So far, everything has been smooth and great for both me and the baby, and we've now reached the start of the 3rd trimester. Until this point, one can barely tell that I am pregnant. Even now, you can easily pass me for someone who may have just had a big breakfast since I am not protruding much at all...yet. However, that's about to change the next 2 months as I approach the due date. Thus far, I've been perfectly capable of standing in the trains and never expect anyone to give up their seat for me. But it will be very interesting to see if the last few weeks before my due date, while I am large, clumsy, and unbalanced, will there be anyone on BART who would give up their seat for me?

Personally, I've given my seat up to visibly pregnant women for years. I sometimes think they need it more than certain seniors because one slip or fall could be devastating!! Plus, they are so tired and carrying so much extra weight that any sudden stop and go could throw them off.

This is not to say I expect anyone to give up their seat for me once I reach that stage. In Japan, as I mentioned, pregnant women are designated the specially marked handicapped seats. Here, they are not and we all know that the handicapped seats are more like first come, first serve anyways, with few (but there are some!) folks getting up for those who need it more.

As my stomach grows more, I'm going to see how people react around me. No big deal if I remain standing...I'm prepared to. I'll grab to the safety bars tightly!!