Date: March 15, 2008
Weather Conditions: Breezy & Sunny
Time: 11:53 a.m.
First Stop: Green Division Yard
I exit the BART station and feel a little confused. I’m not entirely sure where I’m supposed to pick up the J because this area seems more like a MUNI train graveyard rather than an actual stop. To the side of the tracks is a small walkway. I follow the path and see some other people so I assume I’m in the right place. I got here just in time because a J is leaving the yard. Yessss!
The train begins to pull out and the driver motions at me. I have no idea what he’s motioning about so I walk further down the walkway in case he was trying to say, “Yo, move it.” Good call. He starts moving again. Stop. Move. Stop. Finally he pushes the magic button and opens the doors.
Five other people get on: two thugish looking dudes, two tourists and a guy who looks half asleep. I debate which car to sit in, first or second? After a trip to the second car, I decide to sit in the first car, on the right side, behind the door.
Time: 12:01 p.m.
Stop: San Jose & Randall
The purple haired Glamour Grandma gets off slowly. I’m not sure who gets on, I’m caught up looking at the beautiful skyline of the city. We turn at 30th and now we’re on 30th and Dolores. We’re moving so quickly. My phone starts ringing and I feel stressed. I ignore my own rule and answer it. Ok, no more answering the phone. We pass through the area of
Time: 12:03 p.m.
Stop: Church & 30th
A lot of white, hip looking people and couples get on board. I’m overwhelmed by colorful skinny jeans, expensive shoes and jackets with careful detailing. I feel let down by the J-Church. You move so fast and your riders are so boring!
Time: 12:05 p.m.
Stop: Church & 27th
A family of four gets on and the wife sits next to me. I think it’s a mom and a dad visiting their daughter and her boyfriend. I’m pretty sure it’s a boyfriend because he and Daughter don’t have rings and the dad is sort of fishing with his conversation topics. I look out the window and see three little furry dogs on leashes sniffing each other. When I turn back I notice that the mom next to me is trying to read my notebook! I give her a look of disgust and she faces forward. (It’s only now striking me how funny it is that I’m being curious about others but when someone tries to do it to me, no way. That’s an example of irony, yes?)
Time: 12:06 p.m.
Stop: Clipper & Noe
A slew of people get on wearing green for the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Mom and Dad hold a conversation:
“Oh, the parade must be in town.”
“It seems like it.”
Boyfriend, a scruffily coiffed guy with lots of facial hair and aviator sunglasses says, out of nowhere, “
Mom and Dad exchange puzzled looks. Daughter lowers her head. Oh dear.
Time: 12:08 p.m.
Stop: Church & 24th
I don’t hear the rest of the conversation because we stop, the doors open and a screaming child is trying to board. “Patrick! Hold my hand! Don’t climb up like that!” Patrick is probably about two and is trying to scale the train stairs like a mountain climber. There is a huge line of people behind him. Once Patrick is cleared out of the way, more little kids get on, including The Crayola’s, a family of three children in bright, primary-colored raincoats and a dad. Too bad it does not look rainy today. More drunk people dressed in green get on and move to the back. It’s very noisy in the back. I wonder if they ordered their coffee Irish-style today.
Patrick is still throwing a fit. Seriously, Patrick? That was like two minutes ago. GET OVER IT. Patrick’s daddy and Family of Four Dad start talking about Irish baby names. Family of Four Dad tells Patrick’s daddy that his oldest daughter just had a third child and named her Rona. Her son is named Kieran. “Good, strong Irish names!” Patrick’s daddy is impressed. He has an Irish accent. Patrick’s daddy introduces himself to Family of Four Dad as “Patrick Kelly.” Family of Four Dad laughs and says, “I’m Terry Flynn! Nice to meet you.” Terry and his wife (Mom the Spy) are visiting from
Time: 12:11 p.m.
Best outfit EVER.
We start passing through Dolores Park. It is mostly empty except for a few dogs and their owners. There’s a pickup basketball game happening and I see more people in green running to catch the train.
Time: 12:14 p.m.
Stop: Church & 18th
A group of green, glittery teenage girls get on. One says, “Make sure you don’t lose anything today Tess!” Tess says, “I’ll try really hard!” The group laughs. She must be a perpetual lose-er.
There is some movement around me. Daughter is in the seat directly behind mine and the woman next to her gets up. Mom the Spy gets up to sit next to Daughter. A boy with a girly-looking face takes her spot.
An Aside: I like to collect different things in my mind. It's sort of a recognition of patterns that I see. Most recent mental collections include people with canes (which made me wonder if polio is making a comeback,) people with partly burned-off faces (which makes me a) sad and b) think of this,) and dogs with shaved bodies but furry legs that look like legwarmers (Example.) Today I will collect ambiguous-looking people. Count so far: Two.
The driver comes on the PA system and announces, “Next stop—Church and Market. Next stop.”
From behind me I hear Mom the Spy say, “Have you seen ‘There Will Be Blood’? It’s great!”
Time: 12:18 p.m.
Stop: Church & Market
We pass the big Safeway. I try to take a picture and while trying to juggle my notebook, bag, camera and pen, I end up writing all over my sweater. Ugh.
We stop at Church and Duboce. The girl-ish looking boy gets up and is replaced by an older man-ish looking woman. Amazing. Count: Three. She adjusts her baseball cap and fixes her really cool earphones. They are blue and yellow with a blue and yellow striped cord. She opens a book, “The King Must Die.”
The Dolores Park Girls and the back of Mom the Spy's head.
A guy who looks like he just came from the gym stands in front of me. He is carrying a huge bag on his back. He gives me a missing-front-teeth-smile, and says, “How are you pretty lady?” “Good, thanks.” He doesn’t listen to me reply.
Time: 12:20 p.m.
Stop: Inside the MUNI Underground Tunnel
The missing tooth gym guy, Toothless, says loudly, “I only like one type of music: Mexican stripper music.” One of the Dolores Park Girls yells back, “Oh my GOD! That’s my favorite too!”
“Oh, yeeeeeeah! This is the best music EVER. This is what you listen to when a girl is sliding down the pole.
“Y’all wanna hear this, dontcha?” Without waiting for a response, out of nowhere he pulls out a boom box. Really though, where was that hiding?
The train is still paused in the tunnel. He fiddles with some knobs and Mexican tango starts blaring. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard this same song at Chevy’s.
The driver announces, “Van Ness Station.”
Boyfriend gets up and as the train pulls to a stop he bumps into Toothless who yells, “DON’T TOUCH ME! DO NOT TOUCH ME. What is wrong with you, man? Bobby Brown is part of my family, you should KNOW better!” Boyfriend looks thoroughly confused and just stands there with his head cocked. Toothless just shakes his head.
The doors open and close, people get on and off. We start moving again.
Time: 12:24 p.m.
Stop: Civic Center Station
We finally get to
I say, “Yeah, people get pretty excited about St. Patrick’s Day.”
She shakes her head.
Patrick Kelly starts giving little Patrick and older sister Mimi directions. “We’re going to get off at the next stop. You need to get in the stroller.” Mimi, who has the face of a Kewpie doll says, “The next one, Daddy?”
“Yes. Please hold hands.” Mimi goes to hold Patrick’s hand. He freaks out and tries to hold on to Daddy. This child, seriously.
Patrick, in a calmer moment.
Time: 12:26 p.m.
Stop: Powell Station
Patrick, Patrick and Mimi make it out in a more organized fashion than they entered. The man-ish woman starts talking to me again. “It’s a long day of being Irish.”
“Yeah, very long day.”
“A long day of wearing green. I usually try to avoid this stuff. All the colorful people.”
“Yeah, well, it’s hard to avoid, you know. The city is always pretty crazy.”
She sighs. “Why can’t they celebrate on the 17th?”
I spare her the official Church explanation of not indulging during Holy Week and say, “Some people just like to get wasted and wear green as much as they can.” I wonder if she thinks it’s weird that I’m talking to her and writing, simultaneously.
Time: 12:27 p.m.
From the second car I hear Ramones style chanting, “HEY, HO! LET’S GO! HEY, HO! LET’S GO!”
The man-ish woman says, ‘I’m going to get off and see if I can find some peace now.”
“I hope you do. Good luck with that."
The doors open and she exits. Her absolute sobriety and sanity is probably the funniest thing I’ve seen all day. I guess that maybe it’s weird when “crazy” starts seeming “normal” and “normal” starts seeming like a big joke.
I see The Ramones walking through the station. One guy is wearing a green track jacket that reads, “World Class Pub Champion.” He is carrying a 24-pack of Guinness. Of course.
The doors close, the train starts moving. The Crayola's and I are about the only ones left.
Crayon people, ready for the rain.
Last Stop: Embarcadero Station
The voice of the recorded MUNI woman comes on, “This train is going out of service. Please exit.” So I do.
Total Time: 38 minutes (approx.)
How I got there: 5 to Civic Center BART, off at Balboa Park Station
Where can you see more? HERE