My new commute, until now, has been pretty innocuous. We get on the train, we sit there and read for thirty minutes---I have rediscovered reading! I now have a time and a place to read!---and then we get off at the other end. We do this twice a day and it's fine. Sometimes I get my phone out and Yelp all the restaurants and bars we're passing because we move through entirely different neighborhoods now and it's always nice to know where you can get a decent falafel. Sometimes Sean and I chat, sometimes we don't. It's different from the brisk 20 minutes we used to walk to and from work each day, but it's not at all awful. I have resigned myself to the fact that in order to have a garage and a yard and a study and my very own washing machine, PRAISE THE LORD, I have to sit on a train for thirty minutes twice a day. No biggie. In fact, I figure it's a pretty good trade.
But I guess I'd forgotten how wacky people can get on public transport. Did you know this? Did you know people get a little wacky on public transport? Because I'd forgotten this, I'd forgotten it all. For a start, it's sort of eye-opening what people will do on a train at 7:45am, even when wedged in among large crowds of strangers. This morning alone, for example, I saw someone putting her mascara on, someone brushing her hair, someone taking her birth control pill, someone eating a peanut butter sandwich, and someone having a supremely douchey conversation at top volume in which the phrase "yo, can you hit all your media contacts with the deets?" was bandied about with alarming frequency.
People! It's called public transport! You are in public!
My ride home was the best part, though. First there was the grey-haired grandpa who sat there sweetly for a few stops, and then whipped out a harmonica from his pocket all of a sudden and started playing. The sun was setting just right between a couple of paint-faded Victorians, I had half a bottle of wine in me---uh, I went out after work, I should clarify; wouldn't want you to think I'd been drinking at my desk---and for a couple of minutes everything was good and right and perfect, albeit in a rather stereotypically San Francisco sort of way.
But then the girl behind me started throwing up. Well, not throwing up, quite, but retching. Oh god, there was a lot of retching. She was seventeen or so and hammered, and she leaned into her boyfriend and retched, retched, retched, and you could feel the collective shudder thundering down the MUNI car, and then she started shouted things like "HEY DOES THIS TRAIN GO TO THE OCEAN? DID WE MISS THE OCEAN?" and then just to kick it up a notch, the guy a few seats down from her got up and started wandering the aisles, announcing to anyone who'd listen that he was a professional pickpocketer.
(Really, dude? You can't be that professional. I mean, I'm pretty sure the first rule of pickpocketing is that you don't talk about the pickpocketing.)
A fratty guy in a red shirt took offense to this bold-faced announcement from the professional pickpocketer and words were had and voices were raised and there was a DON'T TOUCH ME and a NO DON'T TOUCH ME, MAN, and there we all were, staring intently at our iPhone screens, pretending it wasn't happening---retch, retch, retch going on in the background---while a mild scuffle went on behind us and the fratty guy's friends did their best to hold him back. The doors opened and the fratty boy got out, shouting obscenities at the professional pickpocketer who smiled and shrugged, and sat down next to the retching girl, who by this time had stopped retching and was instead conducting one of the navel-gazing conversations of the highly intoxicated.
"Emeralds," she was saying. "Emeralds. Isn't that a weird word? Emeralds. I can never say it right. EMERALDS. See, I didn't say it right! EMERALDS. EMERALDS! EMERALDS!"
"I'm a professional pickpocketer," said the professional pickpocketer. "But it's okay, I'm getting off the train soon."
"Emeralds!" said the retching girl. "Why can I never say emeralds?"
It was at this point that I looked around to double-check that I hadn't stumbled unknowingly onto the set of a Harold Pinter play and, upon discovering that I hadn't stumbled unknowingly onto the set of a Harold Pinter play, did a second check to make sure I wasn't being Punk'd by Ashton Kutcher instead.
But no, I wasn't. I was just riding the N Judah home at 8:30pm on a Wednesday night. Par for the course, I guess. Who knew?