Have you ever been unexpectedly licked while riding public transit? I haven't either, but I was the lucky witness to the gruesome act this afternoon.

I'm sitting across from a man and a woman, apparently strangers, and both seemingly "normal", when out-of-the-blue, the man leans over and licks the woman's shoulder. Yep, licks. Now this lick... It was one that would make Gene Simmons blush. It wasn't a lick one does when they are trying a new kind of food and are nervous, and it wasn't even the type of lick one does to their fingers before turning the pages of the book. This was a "I'm-going-to-lick-the-shit-out-of-my-favorite-flavor-of-ice-cream-nestled-on-a-caramel-waffle-cone" type of lick.

In shock, me and the other 2 people watching, gasped, waiting to see what was going to happen next. I expected a punch in the face, a scream or even a verbal tongue lashing (no pun intended). Nothing. Even more stunned, I just sat there with a giant look of disgust on my face. The longest 10 seconds of my life passed by, and then it happened: without missing a beat, she licked him back. Her lick didn't have nearly as much fervor, but it was still epic.

This licking event went on for a few more minutes, each time trying to outdo one another. I just sat in disbelief. Is this really happening right now? Are they just dogs in human clothing? Or has my day been that draining that I'm actually imagining this (but why would I imagine THAT)?

Finally, the licking fiasco ended and both got off a the same stop. Perplexed, I watched them walk off together-- and start laughing. Clearly these people knew each other and are involved in a new form of street performance, or some form of kinky behavior that I will truly never understand.

I have to say, although the incident made my stomach turn, and it was probably the weirdest thing I've seen to date, it makes me laugh just thinking about it. I'm still looking behind my back, waiting for Ashton to pop out of the drivers seat, but then I remind myself- every ride on this train is like being in an episode of Punked. If you don't believe me, give it a whirl. I promise you, I can't make this stuff up.

 

There's something majestic and hopeful about the unknown of the new year. What does it hold? Our hope is that it will be even better than the next, yet there is that little piece of fear that says it'll be just like the rest. I often wonder if other people think the same thing? Do they find that little glimmer of hope in the possibility of something new? Or do they have the same worry that I do, that a stagnant year is ahead.

I suppose the only thing I know is that it's all in our hands-- to change or remain the same. What if I made positive changes the last year with little or no difference? There's nothing more frustrating in the world than to put all your effort into seemingly positive changes only to see little, or nothing, in return. That was 2013 for me: 2 steps forward, 2 steps back.

In my "woe is me" rant, I have to remind myself that, perhaps, nothing done was in vain. There were no failures. There were no successes. Rather, every step made, every choice made was meant to prepare me for better (or possibly even the best) things to come in 2014.

The only things I know to be true are:

- I am alive and healthy

- My friends and family are alive and healthy

- I have a job

- I have a warm, cozy, roof over my head

- I have food in my belly

- I have at least 5 people that I could call right now to tell me that I'm fabulous (even if I think I'm not) and tell me that everything will be ok

- And, I'm lucky enough to have an immense amount of love and support in my life

Does anything else even matter? I'm blessed

This is what I will continue to tell myself, through the storm and the sun. And no matter what- as long as I wake up tomorrow, and God chooses to grant me another day, then life is good. It can only go up from here.

Here's to 2014!

(P.s. Although this post has nothing to do with my commuting adventures or BART blunders, I felt compelled to write it-- just in case a fellow passenger (on the train or in life) needed to hear this same message, too.)

 

After a long plane ride, my brother and I hopped on the airport shuttle, exhausted and ready to go home. Immediately we both pick up our phones to see the latest happenings on our various social media sites. What did we miss in the past 5 hours? Nothing too great; something about Time Magazine wanting to make Miley Cyrus their person of the year (really?), a friend posting her latest crockpot recipe, and 10 extra 'likes' from the pictures I posted of the weekend. Invigorating stuff, I tell you. Sitting across from me was the cutest little girl-- probably about 3 years old, and oh-so curious. She was asking her dad all sorts of questions during our journey to the carport. I said hello to her and when she was too shy to respond, I retorted to my trusty hand held device. All of sudden I hear her say "Daddy, why is everyone on their phones?" I look up and, not only was my brother and I glued to our screens, but everyone else on the shuttle was too. The dad began to explain "Well baby, that's just the world we live in. No one just talks to people anymore." Although I felt he could have sugar coated his message and tailored it to his 3 year old audience, he had a point.

During my evening commute the next night, I began thinking heavily about this man’s point. I decided that I wasn't going to rely on my trusty handheld to get me through tonight’s train ride- no way. So I put my phone away and took my headphones off and just people watched. Within the first 5 minutes of hearing one foul word after another from the teenagers behind me, I was reminded why I drown myself in music and Facebook after my evening commute. It may be mindless, but it’s definitely more pleasant than hearing words that would make Ozzy Osborne blush. Right when I was about to give up on the lofty idea of finding good in the world through random conversation, a little Ukrainian woman walked up to me and started talking. She was the cutest thing ever! She asked me how my day was, what train I was getting on, and what I was having for dinner that night. She proceeded to tell me all about her day; she when shopping with some friends and had to get on the Pittsburg/Baypoint line to get home to her daughter who was making pot roast for dinner. I told her that her train was before mine and that I would help her make sure she got on the right one. When her train came up, she bolted on to get a seat. Bummed that I didn’t get to say goodbye to my new friend, I watched her sit down. Once she settled and still within eyeshot of me, she hollered "Bye Honey. Have a great night!" I said "You too!", I smiled, and she was on her way.

Although there wasn't anything particularly profound about that experience, I was glad I had my headphones off for it. Who doesn't like to be asked how their day was? And by one of the cutest little ladies on the face of the planet, at that! I think it's a good reminder for us all. I'll admit that after a busy day of work, the last thing I want to do is have a random conversation with someone sitting next to me. I think it's so easy to get caught up in fake reality, and so easy to lose faith in humanity-- it happens to me on a daily basis. However that experience was a good reminder that everyone needs those little moments to lift their spirits, make them smile, or even to help them forget about their troubles- if only for a minute. Just look up.

 
I suppose that, when dealing with public transit, I shouldn't expect the classiest of people to be riding (present company excluded, of course). Yet the fact remains: I'm still shocked at the things that come out of people's mouths! In the nearly 2 years I've been commuting into the city, I've heard (and been on the receiving end) of some of the most ridiculous pick up lines that one could possibly fathom. For example, just last week the following happened:

Bold Man: "Yo, yo Kim-- you got a man?"

Me (Fresh from a tough workout, covered in sweat and spandex, with a 'WTF' did you just say look on my face):
"Excuse me?!"

Bold Man: "'Cause I can be your Kanye.."

I'll admit his line was creative and it did give me a good laugh, but it would never, in a million years, get him a number, let alone a date.When telling my stories to guy friends, I always get laughs and an over the top "No Way!", but they can never explain the reason why men say these things, expecting us to just give in. I shared this thought with a friend at work who was finally able to provide some clarity: "It's because it's worked on at least one person before you." "What?! So you're saying that last week when someone said 'Honey, just by seeing you from behind I can tell you're a well-rounded person.' that it wasn't the first time that he used that line, and that someone actually fell for it?" "Yep." He said, "And it won't stop at you."

This point of view baffled me but I began to think his theory was correct! Who else would be so bold unless
they knew it was going to work? It's either that, or there's a heck of a lot of overly confident men reading "Pick-Up Lines Guaranteed to Drop Her Drawers" out there.

Whatever it may be, here's a friendly PSA to all the questionable men: This train is a mode of transportation, not a dance club. I certainly appreciate the fact that you are trying to get a little somethin' something', but at the end of the day, no respectable woman is actually going to fall for any line involving a covered up part of her body. If you absolutely need to make a move, stick to the basics: eyes, hair, smile. Not only will compliments like these get you closer to your desired outcome, they'll also keep your dignity (and face) intact.
 

As I've mentioned before, ever since I've started this blog, my friends flood me with stories about their BART experiences. I love it. Of course my creative mind immediately goes to work, trying to figure out how I can bring each story to life. Thankfully, the most recent submission didn't need much color from me as the detailed description of the event was enough to be effective.

A good friend of mine came up to me one day (knowing I was having a rough one) and said "Court, I have to tell you about what happened on BART". Thinking it was another run of the mill nail clipper, nose picker, or death farter, I listened with open ears: 


"So I'm on BART this morning and a man wearing a sparkly tank top and short basketball shorts gets on. As soon as he got on, he grabbed onto one of the side rails and started lifting his backpack like it was a weight. He'd switch arms, switch directions, and even hinge over to get his lifts in." At this point, I'm already dying. I've totally seen people like this while riding so I know exactly what he's talking about. There's a lady on my commute who does squats and leg lifts the entire 45 minute ride--pretty resourceful if you think about if. After my rant, he stops me and says, "Oh, wait. I'm not finished."


He tells me how all the passengers were taking pictures of the man, but he couldn't understand why because Richard Simmons back was to him. In anticipation I listened, but didn't expect what I was about to hear. "When he switched directions, I realized what it was. They weren't taking pictures of his workout, they were taking pictures of the tent slowly being pitched  in his shorts." With this, I lost it!  I said "OMG! He didn't feel the need to chop down his wood, prior to getting on BART?" He said "Hell no! He wanted people to see! He flung it around like it was a badge of honor." By far this is one of the funniest and grossest BART stories I've ever heard in a long time.


 I guess the situation could have been worse. We all have that 'thing' we do on BART to pass the time, and there's  absolutely nothing wrong with making the most of your commute. However, most people prefer waiting until they get home to get their jolly's off.  In the meantime, consider this a friendly PSA: Be aware of your surroundings, and especially be aware of flinging objects. You wouldn't want to poke your eye out.

 

It doesn't happen very often,  but once in a blue moon, you'll see someone famous or well-known on BART. And for some reason, our human race just doesn't know how to handle it politely or even like a normal person. Everyday,  hundreds of people get on and off the train without saying a word to one another. We use this vessel to get from point a to point b; most of us not uttering a single word about it. However, when one of these celebs get on, many just do the uber-creepy stare: thinking they are being sly (but really are more transparent than a piece of glass). And the others, well, they just feel the need to act like a fool when those well-knowns enter the train. Regardless, I've seen my fair share of what I can only call "specialness" when it comes to this unique group of individuals. 


I'll use my friend Gloria as an example. She's an up and coming comedienne in the SF bay, and one of the most hilarious people I know. I'm  always hearing stories of people noticing her on the train. Most of them are endearing thoughts, such as:  "loved your show", "you're so funny!", and "I go to your shows all over the place"... etc. But, sometimes, she'll tell me creepy stories of sly pictures being taken (and Gloria giving them a dose of their own medicine and taking a picture of them at the same time, or flat out calling them out and then graciously posing), or even people asking her out "Hey baby, I done saw your show last night. If i had a ladder, I would climb your 6 foot frame." Gross.


Then there's the case of the Chef-testant. He got on a train at the Embarcadero and although it was packed and standing room only, it was oddly quiet. All of the sudden I hear someone yell "TOP CHEF" and point at him like he was on fire. The chef said coyly (yet gracefully) "Yes, that's me"...to which the drunken man replied "Mannnnnn-- I voted for you! You should have won! Will you come to my restaurant-- please?!I'll hook you UPPPPP!" And then the fan jetted his fist out (IN CHEF'S FACE) for a fist bump and wouldn't retreat until he bumped him back. I swear the fist stayed in front of that poor guys mouth for a good 30 seconds before he realized what was going on. Now , I get that his plush pillows of pulled pork are nothing short of legandary, but he still doesn't deserve to be knocked out (literally) by your enthusiasm. Needless to say, The chef rode the rest of the way with his sunglasses on.


Then there's my favorite-- MC Hammer. Yes. The One. The Only. On this day, I was probably one of creepy gawkers (but I didn't care; It's HAMMER for God's sake!) Yet, thankfully, my creepy gawk was nothing compared to what happened next. A fellow passenger walked up to him and extended his hand "Are you who I think you are?" he said. MC replied "Yeahhh, I'm Hammer..." (I really want to say that the next time someone asks if they know me from somewhere, but I digress) "Aww man, I'm your biggest fan, on da real!" What happened next, well, I only wish I had my video camera for. The fellow BARTer started a hip hop dance routine and rapped (at the top of his lungs) "2 LEGIT, 2 LEGIT TO QUIT, HEYYYYYYYYYYYY... You're 2 legit to quit, man!" I kid you not. MC just started laughing. I mean, I'm sure he's heard that for half of his life or more, and yet this guy danced in front of him as if he was singing it to him for the first time.


People never cease to amaze me. Whether you're HAMMER, or you're just yourself; have some respect.  You never know when you, too, will be too legit to quit. 

 
Picture
Now that I have this little blog, my friends have all become my BART informants, looking for anything I can write a story about. My friend Ashley text me the other day: "Courtney, I'm currently watching a guy, wearing a grey Kangol hat, clip his finger nails on BART". After I said, "Eww, that's disgusting!" She replied with "Yes, it's pretty gross, but let’s talk about the fact that he's wearing a KANGOL hat."

She raises a very valid point: there is no dress code on BART. I've seen it all: slippers, booty shorts in winter, sub-zero puffy jackets in summer, nylons as pants, harem pants (leave them to MC Hammer) and my favorite, the guy who wore the "Boobies Make Me Happy" tee-shirt.  I certainly don’t consider myself to be the most fashion forward person, but I do have good taste and can put together something that will help you avoid the worst dressed list.

Yesterday night, Old Navy invited me to be one of their featured bloggers to give some fashion tips to their customers. I came up with a couple of looks that are guaranteed to make you look cute for your commute (and repel stains from the 40 year old clothed BART seats). Both head-to-toe looks are available for $70 or less. Go see them today!


 
Picture
On July 1st, 2013, BART employees decided to strike forcing 400,000 commuters (including myself) to find another way into work. Thankfully, I own a car (I couldn’t imagine if I didn’t). I also have a very flexible day job that accommodates snafus like this--so much so that when I arrived at work today, I walked into smiles and empathetic “awe’s”, not a lecture about being late.

The thing is, I actually support this strike. Sure, it’s a huge pain in
the rear to sit in a parking lot (i.e. The Toll Plaza) for 3 and a half hours while creepy men stare and flick their tongues perversely at you (yes, that really happened),  but what can you do except roll with the
punches when good people are fighting for their rights. 

I have nothing but the utmost respect for all of the BART workers. It has to be a tough job! Read the few stories that I have shared on here, and then multiply that times infinity. That’s the 40 hour work week of the BART worker.
On a daily basis, they have to put up with 8 hours of bad breath, flatulence, violence, tragic incidents, naked acrobatics, and crazies running on top of their train thinking they are the king of the world (for the record, I would
have paid REALLYgood money to witness the last two)—and that’s just to name a few.  They are responsible for the lives of millions of people, and for getting us to work, safely, every day of the week.  And, for the most part, they seem to enjoy it (well at least Barry White and Miss Sassafras do). It’s easy for me to laugh during the hour and 30 minutes that I ride the train (really, the laughter keeps me from insanity), but I don’t think I would be able to survive 40 hours of it.

In my opinion, BART management should give the hard-working employees what they want. The needs are not unrealistic, and they deserve it. Plus, where would “The Curious Commuter” be if it weren’t for my dear BART? Life would be a lot more uneventful, that’s for sure.


 
Do I have your attention?

Now, before I get too deep into my latest BART blunder, I should preface by saying that I think that "farting" or "tooting" or "passing gas" is probably one of the funniest noises on the face of the planet. Yes, I have a sick sense of humor (and am probably a 10 year old boy trapped in a 30 year old woman's body), but there's just something about the act that immediately brings tears to my eyes (no pun intended).

HOWEVER, this act is only funny when it's unintentional, it's done by a someone you love or care about, or is at the very least followed up by an embarrassed "whoopsie daisy" apology. This act certainly isn't funny when it happens on your shoulder, in your neatly pressed Banana Republic blouse, by a complete stranger during a Wednesday morning commute.

If you've ever been on BART, you know that there are seats that back into nothing, and on a busy day these
seat backs end up being standing-room-only butt rests. This day, I was lucky (soon to be unlucky) to grab a seat for my journey into work. As I put on my earphones and break out my latest book, I quickly began to feel my personal
space to disappear. Almost immediately, I feel something squishy on my back. When I turn around to investigate, I realize that this packed train has caused a rather tall mans' butt cheek to find a temporary home on my shoulder. As I uncomfortably shift to attempt to free my poor arm, it happens; an unsettling rumble with a force that could have derailed our train...and immediately I ask myself: "Did I just get farted ON?!"

Now, I don't think that it was his intention to fart on me (or for it to have been conducted with such momentum that the lady next to me felt it) and truly think it was a "whoopsie daisy" slip, but as I turned around, IN UTTER SHOCK, about to give this guy a piece of my mind, he points to the guy next to him and blames it on that poor oblivious sucker! I couldn't believe it! The least he could have done was owned it!

I mean, let's face it, intentional or not-- it happened. At this point, he might as well have apologized and started laughing with me. Instead, he made the situation worse by ignoring it all together and looking even more foolish than the incident itself.

After I got over the initial shock, all I could do was laugh. And that’s all I did for the next hour. I mean this certainly wasn't the first time someone has felt comfortable enough to share a tooting moment on me (my one year old nephew loves to do it every time I pick him up), and I'm confident it won't be the last. But, I'm hoping that since this act was done by a complete stranger, that he's a part of a culture where farting on someone means a bout of good luck is about to come to the receiver (much like when a bird poops on you). Otherwise, I probably need
to reevaluate some things in my life and ponder why I've become the ultimate tooter magnet.

 
Two days in a row I've encountered the best/sassiest train conductors, EVER. Not only did Barry White serenade me on my morning commute a couple weeks ago, but I'm pretty sure that Miss Sassafras drives my evening train.

Yesterday, as I got on, she said: "No bikes allowed, sir. (Silence) HELLLLLLLLOOOO! I said no, bikes, ALLOWED!". While others mumbled to themselves and rolled their eyes at her abruptness, I began laughing. I mean, how awesome would it be to anonymously put inconsiderate people in their place on BART? Now, you'd have to use this sass wisely--but I think this lady has a pretty rad job.

The next day, Miss Sassafras was back at it again; another packed train with another manner less passenger. This day, she started out very polite: "Sir (pause). Excuse me, Sir (man looks around). Yes, YOU. Seats are reserved for the elderly, handicapped, and for pregnant women. SIR( pause...still not getting up), there is a pregnant woman standing right in front of you. I KNOW YOU SEE HER. Get up and make your seat available!" Finally, after what seemed like 5 minutes of heckling, the man got up and let the pregnant woman sit. Everyone on the train clapped. The best part was that she refused to move the train until he gave up his seat, putting extra pressure on this man who, clearly, was never taught manners. He ended up getting off at the next stop, though my gut tells me it wasn't his.

I suppose in this industry you have to be cooler than a cucumber or sassier than molasses to deal with such interesting people on a daily basis. As for me, I'm just glad I get to write about it!