Jenna dispenses knowledge on social media and other musings daily @jenjantsch. Who knew she could pen a good yarn, too, complete with knee touching, the end of a relationship, and a conversation about The Eagles? Meanderings did, which is why we’re proud to present our second On Board dispatch from beyond the Tri-State.
We’re thinking Friday will be non-NYC subway day from here on out. So get your submissions in for next week, and beyond. We look forward to them.
August 18, 5:30 p.m.
Millbrae BART Train – San Francisco to Downtown Berkeley
I hear a train pulling into the station as I go through the ticket gate. Is it mine? I start to rush and opt for the stairs because I know that everyone avoids walking and this path will be shorter. Not my train. The Fremont train whizzes by me. The wind the train creates as it leaves the station feels good but you know it is stale air from being under ground all day.
There are five people in front of me in line, which is pretty good for 5:30 pm. Two phones, one iPod, one spacing, one reading a paper written in Chinese, and me typing away. “9 car Millbrae train now boarding,” says the recorded voice over the station’s loudspeaker. A train pulls into the station on the other side of the platform. Lights appear in front of me and the wind starts rushing again as my Richmond train pulls up.
We load onto the train in two single file lines all eyes frantically searching for seats. I slide into a row and bump a middle age man’s legs. “Sorry” I say. He responds, “I have big knees don’t worry about it.”
We fill all the seats while at the Montgomery station. We have one city stop still to come before we head to the East Bay, we all know it is going to be a busy train. Embarcadero station fills the train. Three people enter with sunglasses on? A woman behind me just asked someone to not call her ever again and then hung up saying I’ll call you back.
The chatter silences because we all know the tunnel is coming. The pressure increases, so does the temperature, and I pop my ears. The rushing sounds and metal against metal screeching echo as we dive 109 feet below the water. The man with the big knees next to me starts to bob his head as he falls asleep exposing the bald spot on the top of his head. The middle aged man across from me drums his fingers on his metal brief case to the tune playing thru his earphones. A brown haired man in a brown business suite who is standing wipes his forehead – the heat is harder on him. The younger, pencil thing guy standing yawns and changes the tune on his blue mini iPod.
The sound outside changes and we start to see light. The majority of the riders in my car look south towards the Oakland port. The Oakland port is full of huge white towers leaning over the water ready to pick up the next boat’s cargo. The tapping man starts to enjoy his song even more and the tapping gets louder. Someone behind me opens a wrapper to a breakfast bar. The man next to me gets up for his exit, he managed not to sleep through it. The woman who takes his place is larger and takes up more of our bench, we play a shifting game of not trying to touch one another.
The doors open and fresh air reaches us. Only two people get off – we are still full. Two people open their newspapers, Bay Area Business, they must of been giving it away at a stop. The man next to the tapping man shakes his head in disgust at the tapping and then turns to look out the window.
The BART creaks with a slight turn as we go into another tunnel. A 30 something looking bald man turns to the tapping man, “You can’t hear it but we can.” “Oh sorry,” says the tapping man. An older woman turns to the 30 something and says, “Thank you”. Then she turns to the tapping man, “It must be a great tune.” “It’s the Eagles,” he says. 30 something says, “Oh I would be singing it out loud, I restrain, no one wants to hear that.” The tapping man turns his iPhone off.
A Woman in a winter sweater stands to exit the train with the tapping man. She asks him, “Which Eagles song?” “Long Time Gone,” he says as they exit.
The same number of people loads the train as get off, still full. Now approaching 19th street. Another woman sits across from me – she is holding too much stuff and must reorganize before she spills her coffee. An older woman boards the train and as soon as she sits, sighs of relief and mumbles “okay”.
People standing must grip harder – it is much rockier on the way to McArthur. The woman across from me starts to write in her red notebook, the same red as her purse. One rider takes her sunglasses off as we head out of the tunnel. McArthur is a transfer stop, so people begin to shuffle. The doors open more air and lots of exiters. An orange bike of a teen enters and some seem annoyed. The red lady calls her spouse on a Bluetooth phone to say she is ten to fifteen minutes away and then hangs up.
Down the row I see a slumped over woman with her eyes closed – the woman next to her is reading and checking to see if her neighbor is asleep. She looks as if she wants to wake her. The sun disappears again and tunnel noise begins to build. The teen with the bike is looking around at everyone not even pretending to mind his own business.
After we leave Ashby the train has cleared and we are left with open seats. Downtown Berkeley is our next stop. I rise and pardon myself, no knees this time. A nurse looks over my shoulder to see what I am doing. She looks tired, long day. A line is forming at the doors, the train is ready to clear again.