Sometimes your BART ride doesn’t go exactly as planned. Maybe it’s the end of a long week and you just want to get home as soon as possible. Perhaps you’ve got somewhere you have to be at a specific time, like the airport or something, and you just have to get on this train or else. Whatever the justification, for some reason public transportation has the ability to turn normally polite, civil folks into complete assholes only looking out for themselves.
Take, for instance, a recent trip I experienced this past Friday:
I descended the stairs at Powell Station, happy to find refuge from the pouring rain I had just sprinted through for seven long city blocks. I was even happier to see that the train I needed (Dublin/Pleasanton) was there at the bottom waiting for me with doors wide open. I boarded the train, filling in some space away from the exit (between those 2 priority seating benches that face each other) and patiently waited for the doors to close. And waited, and waited.
I asked the group of the girls next to me how long the train had been in the station, and they said ten minutes. ”Ooh,” I thought, “that’s not good,” as the BART loudspeaker announced that a train was stuck at West Oakland and that nothing was getting through for a while. However, without any alternative for transportation, I decided to stick it out, as my new companions proved to be quite engaging. I learned about Babyfat, which apparently is a store where you don’t want your girlfriend shopping, but I feel would make a fantastic name for the next great hip-hop artist. Other folks decided to stick it out as well, and soon our train was completely packed. After another 10 minutes or so the doors closed and we slowly inched our way through the tunnel, stopping occasionally while the trains stacked in front of us took their time navigating their way.
The thing about packed trains is that even though there’s no space for anyone else to fit, everyone waiting at the next spot nevertheless desperately wants to get on, and will stop at nothing to do so. Normally respectful and civil citizens toss all decency aside and revert to survival of the fittest, clawing their way onboard while yelling nasty things to anyone in their way. Indeed, the scene at both Montgomery and Embarcadero devolved into something out of a post-apocalyptic zombie thriller (luckily not the 28 Days Later fast kind).
The girls next to me were quite hilarious in notifying struggling onboarders that their futile efforts were only delaying the train directly behind us, which would be more likely to have ample space. Their point was emphasized considerably when the conductor made the same remark over the loudspeaker verbatim, although with decidedly less sass. One woman was nonetheless determined to fit, and made one last attempt, getting her arm and shoulder through the threshold as the doors closed. Fortunately, she was able to extricate herself, but the backpack on her shoulder slipped off and would remain an orphan for the remainder of the trip. ”Serves her right!” my new friends exclaimed, and the rest of the car murmured in agreement.
But seriously, what is it about crazy trains?