Thursday, November 10, 2011

Just when I thought I've seen it all

We, the BART commuters, experience a lot of unpleasant things on BART. Whether it's rudeness, crazies, sweaty passengers, nail clippings, or food leftovers, we hold our noses, in most cases, bite our tongue and endure the 30+ minute ride.

Just when I thought I've seen it all, I experienced something for the first time. HAIRSPRAY! A woman not only did her make-up on BART but decided to do her hair on BART too. She was spraying her aerosol can like she's killing ants with Raid. She sprayed up, down, right left...the entire half of the train smelled like cheap hairspray.

I was sitting behind her, lucky me!! I fanned my magazine as furiously as I could. Other passengers turned the opposite from her. One even choked and coughed. Then, she walked up at 12th Street Station and left.

Wow. Excessive hairspray-ing on BART! That's a first!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday greets me with a vengeance

We all love Mondays, especially when it's dark and drizzly, which is the case today. It fires up everyone's already grumpy mood just a bit more.

And of course, a string of events during my morning commute made my Monday BART ride even more detestable. Here they are in chronological order for your amusement!

1) A couple who decided to share one remaining seat and also show their (physical) affections to the whole train.
2) Seeing a homeless man urinate inside the BART station while he is pretending to talk on the pay phone as distraction. At least he tried to hide it!
3) Being trapped behind two side by side smokers on the up escalator and getting smoke all over my face. I was a few passengers behind them but no matter, the smoke was in my face for a good 15 seconds as we all rode up the escalator.
4) Being invaded by a group of tourists who were lost going to different destinations. One after another, they asked me which way to the cable car, which way to Pier 39, which way to Farmer's Market, which way to Mission District. I was very friendly for the first couple tourists but after awhile, I started pointing people to my best guess and figured they'll have someone else to ask when they're lost again.
5) Having my building entrance be blocked by delivery crates for CVS (which is next door.) I couldn't even squeeze through and had to patiently watch them remove the crates, which took about a few minutes.
6) Oh, before I forget, at the Orinda station, I walked up just as the train doors closed and had to wait 5 more minutes.

I hope the rest of the week will be better! And let's hope the sun comes out soon. Happy Monday everyone.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pick-up lines on BART

I've seen magic happen on BART, I really have. If you've read my blog for quite some time, you might recall the story of the sweet couple who first fell in love on BART. Well, I don't know if they are still together, but I've witnessed who they've started talking to each other on the train.

While magic happens, plenty of underwhelming pick-up attempts happen as well. I've talked about the guy who pretended that he loves knitting and the guy who freaked a women out by forcing her to sit in his vacated seat.

One very consistent pick-up strategy that surely almost always leads to no good is the foreign language "hello." What am I talking about? This is one that Asian or Latino women on BART sometimes experience. A man thinks he's impressing you by saying "hello" to you in what he thinks is your native language. Now, there are a few things wrong with that thinking. First, just say hello, we understand English. Secondly, just because we look one way doesn't mean we understand what you're trying to say. I know this is totally innocent but for the sake of the blog, do allow me to elaborate.

This has happened to me a few times. Here's the most recent example. A man comes up to me and says hello to me in Korean. I'm Taiwanese American but I've heard the Korean greeting enough times to recognize it. I politely acknowledge him with a faint smile and look down at my phone again. He then interrupts, I said hello to you in Korean. I said, I know, I'm not Korean, I'm Taiwanese American. He insists further, no way, are you sure you're not Korean? I have a lot of Korean friends and you definitely look Korean. At this point, my patience is extremely thin and I found his ignorance (likely innocent) and lack of tact awfully annoying. I could say so many things at this point but simply replied, yes, I'm sure that I'm not Korean and walked away. In the past, one man actually said to me, "oh, I love Thai food" when I told him that I'm Taiwanese American and not what he thinks I am.

I've heard this scenario a few times on BART with different women and it's pretty funny. Some respond flat out that you don't need to say hola, I can speak English, others completely ignore the attempt.

Just one more random thing to keep me entertained on BART when my Twitterfeed isn't working.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

And you wonder why I hold my breath in the BART stations

Glad to know that BART is finally removing asbestos in the stations but didn't know until that point that the stations were caked with toxic paint.  Lovely.  Now I am really glad that I make a point to take a huge breath of air before entering the stations everyday.  Even if that did nothing to minimize any toxins I sucked in, I know it at least saved me from smelling the odors and bodily fluids that permeate the stations. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

No need to bond over Angry Birds

I usually spend my BART ride going through my twitter feed but whenever we're in no Internet zones, I get bored and sometimes whip out Angry Birds. I'm not obsessed with it but I do expect myself to pass at least one level at each sitting, but lately, in the more advanced rounds, I haven't been able to do so.

Anyhow, I was playing Angry Birds and struggling with a level. I knew the man next to me was looking, I could feel his breathing and unfortunately got a few whiffs of his breath. Coffee + cigarette make a bad breath combo. I ignored his staring. I tried to angle my phone so he can't see.

Then, one more failed attempt at the same level, he says, "What you need to do is hit higher first and get those blocks to roll down and hit in both directions, here let me show you." He reaches for my phone.

I did NOT want him to talk to me about Angry Birds in the middle of a crowded train and even worse, I did NOT need him to touch my phone and demonstrate it for me.

I politely said, as I moved my phone into my purse, "Oh it's OK, I'm just wasting time, I should be reading up on work stuff." I pulled out an old copy of PR Week and pretended to be engrossed thereafter.

Was I out of line??? Did I need to socialize over Angry Birds there? I am not that social on BART, I could be in the right situations, but I really did not need to make a big deal out of a game in public, and have him put his fingers all over my screen.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Powell Station construction

Does anyone know what type of work they are doing in Powell Station? Half of the walkway paths have been taped and bordered off, leaving the homeless and performers battling for limite territory. Whatever work they are doing is cutting off air supply in the station and you can smell the urine much more strongly every morning.

Are they building stores? Updating fixtures? Whatever it is, I hope the completion comes sooner rather than later. Unlike New Yorkers, people in SF don't know how to walk quickly and efficiently in one direction or the other. Here, we have a lot of people who walk leisurely in the stations, looking around left and right as if they are strolling in a park. Or, we have friends who walk in a row blocking foot traffic from both directions.

Yes, call me impatient, that's fine, I am impatient while in commute mode :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The X-rated 5:30am crowd at Powell Station

I had to come into the office much earlier than usual this morning to present for a prospect in Chicago. Th early morning crowd outside and around Powell Station are not quite what I expected. I didn't know what to expect since most of the business crowd got off at Embarcadero and Montgomery, and Powell Station doesn't start buzzing until 8am, but was quite an experience.

First, it was interesting to see how many homeless are able to use Powell Station as their overnight sleeping hub-- I'm glad, they do no harm and at least the station is arm.

Once I got on the escalator to street level, I noticed a homeless man, not 100% sane, following me up. He started screaming, "Take off your jacket for me, baby, come on. It's not that cold out there, baby, take it off, take off your jacket, it's ok."

What the hell?? I dashed up the escalators as quickly as I could as he continued screaming his request.

I ran into the Coffee Bean to retrieve some much needed morning caffeine to pump up my energy before my presentation. Only to run into yet another obscene screamer telling me to "**ck off, you hear me, **ck you, **ck the world, yes you, look at me when I'm talking to you, **ck you."

I then walked half a block towards the office and saw at least half a dozen pee puddles (trust me, you can smell it.) Now i know why the businesses on Market Street must hose down the sidewalk every morning!!! I thank them for it!!

Interesting experience to say the least. I much rather prefer homeless who just ask me for money so they can buy a pack of cigarettes!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

When your ticket is denied...

If your BART ticket is denied at the turnstile, please don't think that you have the right to cut to the next turnstile over, in front of everyone else, and get your ticket denied yet again because there isn't enough amount left to get you through! You can try ALL the turnstiles and it still will not let you pass.

Please, do us all a favor, go back to the ticket machine and add the appropriate amount, and not frantically cut in front of everyone else lining up because you think it's the machine's fault, and not yours!

Just a tip. Thank you!

Should they get a seat?? You tell me!

You tell me if these people deserve seats???  They each asked someone to give up their seats, and one even asked for a non-disabled designated seat!

1) a young woman has what looks to be a wrist bandage for a bad scrape or cut.  Yes or no?
2) an older woman, maybe in 50s, who is young enough to go to work still.  Yes or no?
3) an older man, gray haired, carrying a fold up bike.  Looks fit. Yes or no?
4) an overweight young man who needed two seats.  Yes or no?
5) a woman who appeared to be pregnant, if so, not that far along, but can just be stomach fat.  Yes or no?

All these passengers asked for a seat and everyone complied but not without stares.  I gave my seat up personally for #5 only because I've preached the need for pregnant women in final trimester to sit on BART.  However in this case, I really had to give her the benefit of the doubt.  Oh well, standing won't hurt me but it sure is torture on a crowded train.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The "Excuse Me" man is alive and well

Do you guys know who I'm referring to? The "Excuse Me" man? He's been around for many years but good to know (I think) that after my long break from BART, he is still doing his thing. What's his thing you ask? Basically, he goes from train car to train car, screaming "excuse me!!" at passengers even if they are far from being in his way.

If you ignore him, he keeps screaming "excuse me!!" in your face, but if you look shocked, scared, or just acknowledge him with a stare, he moves on to scream at a passenger 5 feet from you.

He didn't scream "excuse me!" at me but he did scream at a woman sitting a few feet from me, and a man standing across from me.

Maybe one day I should just ask him why he does that?? He's an older man, usually wearing a beat up t-shirt that is way too small for him, long white hair, and appears to be a little bit mentally unstable.

Have you seen him lately??

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hot weather + Food = Miserable BART commute

Things haven't changed much on BART and the stations, despite staying away from it for a year and half. What did I expect really? That suddenly there will be cleaner trains, more considerate passengers, cleaner stations, and better temperature control?? Yeah right.

A few observations that stuck out this week:

1) Is it really that tough to turn on the AC when its 80-90 degrees outside? Especially when you have less than 6 inches of space between your head and the next head.

2) I've noticed that more people take dinners to-go on BART. They're not eating it, but it doesn't matter! Whether it's pizza, pasta or gourmet burger, every food item on BART stinks and it's unbearable when mixed in with the musky scent of hot, sweaty passengers and the 30 years of dander on those nasty BART seats. Can they please just buy food to-go near home? It'll be fresher and hotter for the family!

3) Isn't Clipper supposed to make it easier for passengers? I've had to stand behind several confused Clipper owners this week who can't get it to work. That's fine, no big deal, but step aside if there's no solution to the problem. Don't repeat the action over and over while a line is congregating behind you.

That's it for now! Happy to be back on BART for this one is back alive again :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Saving seats??

I knew it was only a matter of time before I found material to write. Day 2 of my return to daily BART riding and I knew the "honeymoon" stage was short-lived. 

In a fairly crowded train, I find an empty seats amidst a sea of heads.  I get myself there and ask if I may sit down.

There was a lunch bag and a huge backpack on top of the empty seat.  The man in the other seat looks at me and said....sorry I'm saving this seat for my friend who gets on at Rockridge station.

What??  Saving a seat?  You can't do that on BART!  This isn't the movie theater, people.

I said, well, I'll sit there until your friend finds you.

We just past Rockridge and the 'friend' is nowhere to be seen.

Rule people: seats are first come, first serve, except with priority to disabled, elderly, pregnant women and found children.  In my book, at least.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

BART Parking Vendor, ParkingCarma, much improved than I last remembered

6 more days until BART becomes a daily routine again for me, with one SIGNIFICANT difference...I get off now at Powell instead of Civic Center. You all know how much I 'loved' the character of CC. Well, I won't miss it and will instead look forward to a much more pleasant scenery outside of Powell Station.

Anyhow, I'm not signing up for monthly permit at Orinda Station and unfortunately, I'm 376 on the waitlist! Goodness! I guess I'll have to pay daily permit rate until the 375 people ahead of me get their space first. Geez. Through this parking purchase process, however, I realized how much ParkingCarma, BART's parking vendor has improved since the last time I've written about them. Now I can sign up for the waitlist with one click, and customize my vehicles and parking lots with a much more intuitive interface. About time! I can pay and print with one click too. That's going to make my life easier since I'll need to print/buy daily permits until I'm off the waitlist.

I can't believe I'm saying this but I am looking forward to taking BART again, primarily because of this blog and how much I've missed interacting with fellow BART riders here and on Twitter.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Returning soon to the good 'ol days on BART

This 7 year old blog has nearly died in the past year and a half as I've taken a long break from riding BART. To tell you the truth, after nearly a decade of commuting via BART, I had reached a point where I just could not stand the scent, crowds, rudeness and unpredictability anymore.

In about three weeks, I've got no other options but to take BART daily again and happy to say that I'm excited to revamp

The first and major change is to finally come out of anonymity. No need to hide who I am anymore. I'm a huge Giants fan, 49ers fan and UCLA fan (even though my alma mater is Cal;) I am a big supporter of animal rights; I'm a career and family woman; I'm in a mid-30s; I work in tech (like mostly everyone else) and I *think* I know wines.

Stay tuned...Monday, June 13th, BARTMusings shall re-enter the crazy world of peoplewatching, eavesdropping, controversy seeking on BART.

Countdown begins now...