Some people think I make these stories up. These are the same people who have never taken a ride on BART. I promise you; I'm not that clever! I really can't make this stuff up.
People definitely get creative when looking for a seat in a packed train. I get it-- your feet are tired and after a 10 hour work day, the last thing you want to do is stand. But what's your excuse when you're beginning your day and just starting your commute? Your body is supposed to be refreshed and able to handle standing for a good 30 minutes or so first thing in the morning.
I thought I'd seen it all. People will sit on the ground, sit on their bike or skateboard, or they'll even use the back rest as a seat (subsuquently sitting ON me, but I digress). But the genius award of the day goes to this man, who brought his own chair on his daily commute. I mean, really--why didn't I think of that? It's lightweight, it's retractable, it allows you to get work done, and most importantly-- it makes you look cool. The only thing he needs is a can of beer in the cup holder and he'd be living the dream. I mean this guy really knows his stuff. Nothing will get in HIS way. No seat? No problem! I'll just bring my own. Everyone should have a can-do attitude like that.
Bring you chair to BART day; I'm definitely petitioning for it!
The big thing now is that everyone thinks that chivalry is dead. It’s not dead; I’ll agree that its barren, but certainly not obsolete. Chivalry is a learned behavior, it’s taught, but it’s not a part of most curriculums these days. So, whenever someone opens a door for me, or gives up their seat (simply because it’s polite), I’m usually overly grateful and thank them with such fervor that one might think I won the lotto. Combine this behavior with an adorable young kid, and you've pretty much made me hopeful for life.
It was another busy day at work, another packed tuna can train, and another long trip home. All I kept thinking was “I’m hungry. “ “Man, I need a personal chef so dinner will be ready when I get home.” “Is Real Housewives of Orange County on tonight?”…you know-- all the basics. Right when I began day dreaming about the delicatessen that would be waiting for me at home (if I ever did hire that chef), I felt a tug on my right butt cheek. As I turned around impersonating my best Chuck Norris move, and ready to attack the groper, I saw a little boy sitting across from his mother. He said “Ma’am, would you like my seat?” Relieved, regaining normal stance I said, “No thank you, Hun. Your backpack looks like it is heavy. Plus, I’m sure you had a long day of playing at school.” With the biggest sigh of relief he said “Ya, you’re right. I could really use this seat right now—dodge ball was tough today!” I couldn't help but laugh.
As I looked over at his mother, to give her a smile, she whispered to him “Good job”. Whether she told him to get up, or if he did it on his own, I’ll never know. After they got off the train, 2 things came to mind: 1. I’m glad to know that there are still good parents out there, and 2. I wish a rough dodge ball session was still the toughest part of my day!
Taken by CM 5/8/13
Today, I forgot my headphones. Such a bummer. I like to get in my relaxed zone with some great tunes, and drown out the world around me during my commute. Doing so, however, prevents me from listening to the conductor. Since I already know which stop is mine, there's really no point for me to pay attention; I always know where I'm headed. This morning was different. Since I was forced to listen to the overhead announcements, I discovered something pretty life changing: Barry White is my train conductor.
Now I can't confirm this 100%, so please don't take my word as gospel, but after todays ride, I'm pretty sure that The Walrus of Love was driving my train! Much to my surprise, about 30 seconds before we arrived at the next stop, a deep sultry voice comes on: "Nexxxxtttt stop, Fruitvale. This is a Daly City bound train..." Barry, is that you? Patiently, I waited for the next announcement. It couldn't be, could it? A few minutes later... "Nexxxxt stop, Lake Merrit. This is a Daly City bound trainnnnnn." Oh my! It has to be him! Barry has come back from the dead he's here to serenade me on my ride into the city.
This continued for awhile. Every time he would come on, I secretly hoped that instead of telling me the next stop, he'd bust out in spoken song, using that smooth sultry voice: "I've heard people say that, too much of anything is not good for you, baby. But I don't know about that." And then continue singing "My darlin I, I can't get enough of your love baaabbby"..
Unfortunately, my love song never came.
Its okay- I still know better: Barry White is my train conductor. Period. End if story. Who else can say that? You can't fool me Barry. I KNOW. Can't get enough of your love, either, and I hope to hear your seductive smoothness on tomorrow's ride in.
I am a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic, and I'm not afraid to admit it! I'm a sucker for displays of affection (though I'll stop short of anyone using BART as their brothel instead of getting a room) and love when I catch genuine loving gestures in the act. I love LOVE. Although my "WTF" experiences make up 80% of my commuting days, every so often I get to witness heart-tugging moments that complete the remaining 20.
During my evening commute, I'm lucky if I get a seat. Usually it's packed like a sardine and there's no such thing as personal space. Most of the time, people are courteous enough to give up their seat to those more frail. A few stops into my way home one night, an adorable elderly couple got on; the husband seemingly more frail than the wife. Thankfully, one person got up, motioning the gentleman to sit down. Instead of taking the seat, he gently guided his wife to sit down. She gave him a look like "Oh, Harry", shook her head (I assume because she knows she wont win the battle if she argues anyway) and sat down with a giddy grin. As the train started to move, instead of grabbing the rail for support, he grabbed her hand. He didn't let go until their stop about 30 minutes later. Even when they got off, that grip didn't falter. I found myself wondering what their story was. How long have they been married? 40, maybe 50 years? How many children do they have ? Has he always held her hand with such adoration? I'd give anything to know.
I'm not sure if it's just me, or if other people notice these gestures too, but it's amazing what you see when you take the time to look. Love. Kindness. Chivalry. They all exist. You just have to take the time to look for it.
12 hour days. 3 hour round-trip commutes. Early to rise, late to bed. Monday through Friday. 60 hour work weeks; I get it, its the life of the hard-working commuter. Understanding and considering all of these facts, however, I need to ask the following question: does this mean you get to use me as your pillow?
One of the things I love the most about riding the train is it allows me to relax on my way into work and, especially, on my way home from work. I don't have to worry about sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. I get to read a great book. And I can drown out the day with my favorite iTunes playlist. This is how I relax. Others, however, have the ability to nap on their way home, i.e. pass out as if they took a Quaalude or had one too many cocktails during happy hour.
A good friend of mine/fellow commuter is one of these said people. I ask her all the time, "How do you do it? Don't you worry about missing your stop or someone stealing your stuff?" She says "No, doll. I never miss my stop. I just cuddle up with my purse and my body just knows when to wake up!" I've discovered that, much like my friend, there are all kinds of "sleepers" on BART. I have been able to categorize them into six different types: Cuddlers, Leaners, Startlers, Snore-Snorters, Bob and Nodder's and, my personal favorite, The Comatose Commuter.
We'll start with the Cuddler's. Theses are the people (much like my friend) who take their belongings, rolls themselves into a neat ball, and fall asleep- blissfully unaware of the world around them. Next there are the Leaner's- those who fall asleep leaning their heads on their hands and then wake up vigorously shaking their arm to regain circulation. There are the Startler's- the people who wake up right as the train pulls up to their stop and bolt out frantically as if the train was on fire. The Snore-Snorters are those who do exactly that: snore then snort themselves awake, sometimes waking up with a drool pool on their shirt and always embarrassed. And then there are the Bob and Nod's-- these are the people who fall asleep sitting upright, but shortly after start to swerve their head like a drunken sailor. Typically, these people catch themselves before their head rests on a window or seat. But every so often, the Bob and Nodder's head lands, and stays...and sometimes it's on my shoulder. This person then becomes The Comatose Commuter. I encountered this sleeper on my way home a couple nights ago. At first, I waited patiently for her to wake up-- surely she'd recognize that she'd come to a complete stop on a stranger. But after a good minute or so, I realized that she'd found a cozy friend in my shoulder and was down for the count. I debated on whether or not to wake her, but figured since I was only 2 stops away from my station, I'd let her have her tiger snooze. After all, she was seemingly hygienic, wasn't drooling, and smelled like a hint of rosemary (one of my favorite scents in the world).
When I arrived at my stop, I wiggled just enough for Sleeping Beauty to awaken from her slumber. She looked at me like "Who the hell are you and how did you get here?" even though she initially sat next to me. I smiled at her, hoping for a quick "Thank you for being my human pillow for 15 minutes", but it never came. Instead, she instantly became the Startler and shoved me out of the door because clearly I wasn't moving fast enough. Lesson learned; they say you shouldn't wake a sleeping baby, but you should ALWAYS wake a Comatose Commuter.
Only on BART. Only. On. BART.
About a year ago, I took an awesome job in the city of San Francisco and became an official BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) commuter. I quickly discovered that this convenient vessel to get me to work would not only teach me about how interesting (i.e perverted, disgusting, and down right hilarious) the human race is, but it would also restore my faith in humanity-- showing me that simple things like chivalry, manners and selfless acts of kindness really DO exist.
I started posting these commuter conundrums on Facebook and soon after, my friends and family started encouraging me to start a blog (they have a sick sense of humor). So here I am, a year later (I haven't always been a quick learner), finally starting this blog. My hope is that you'll have a few laughs, maybe an enlightening moment or two, and that you'll begin to open your eyes when you ride BART because, I promise you: I can't make this stuff up!