b Papa Dog's Blog: A Sick and Tardy Commute

Papa Dog's Blog

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Sick and Tardy Commute

I ran into Papa Funkadelic on the BART platform this morning. He asked how I was doing and I said “Out on my feet.” I felt completely fine yesterday and was sure I’d be good to go to work in the morning. I was even okay when Baby Dog got us up fifteen minutes before the alarm. For some reason, though, once I ate my Oatmeal Crisp and Raisin, I started feeling queasy again, and by the time I was waiting for the train I felt like I could potentially pass out and pitch forward into the tracks. Fortunately, if it came to that there was someone in front of me to break my fall. I explained all this to Papa Funkadelic. “I think maybe the Oatmeal Crisp and Raisin is tainted,” I said. “Maybe it’s just the thought of going back to work that’s making you sick,” he suggested. “Could be.” “Either you need to change your cereal or get rid of your job.” I pondered that. “It’s probably easier to quit my job,” I decided.*

The talk turned, for convoluted reasons, to Politics and Prose, as Papa Funkadelic said, “One of the last big independent bookstores.” “Cody’s on Telegraph,” I said, not at all a non sequitur. “I almost choked up when I read that,” P. Funk. said. “I worked there for seven years.” Indeed, Telegraph will not be itself without Cody’s, but I don’t want to dwell on that now. I’m sure I’ve quoted Sam Krichinksy hereinbefore: “If I knew things would no longer be, I would have tried to remember better.” Well, I know that things will no longer be, and I still don’t think I’m remembering them well enough. Let’s all remember everything we can about Cody’s on Telegraph.

By and by a train was announced. The BART system had apparently been recovering from delays by the time I made my late arrival, and though they were supposedly back on schedule it had already been a long wait for the train. I was second in line, and there was a horde behind me. The sign announced that it would be an 8 car train. If you don’t commute in the Bay Area this means nothing to you, but a full-length BART train is 10 cars long. In commute hours, the difference between 10 cars and 8 cars is the difference between a pleasant 20-minute ride to work and an eternity with your face in some mouth-breather’s armpit. “If it’s packed, I’m not getting on,” I said. “I’m not feeling well enough to ride in a jammed up car.” “Next one’s not for 15 minutes,” P. Funk. said. I told him about the system delays. “There’s probably an unannounced one two minutes behind,” I said. “That’s what I’m gambling on, anyway.” “Well, I’ve gotta take this one,” he said, and when the train pulled up he did just that, cramming himself into an already crowded car. I don’t think this occurred to him, but he probably pissed off eight or ten people behind us. P. Funk., I’m sad to say, cut line to come talk to me, and his ostensible line buddy didn’t even get on the train with him.

I’m still sure I made the right decision not to get on that train – I would have suffocated before I got to the tube. But the decision, sadly, was based on wishful thinking and faulty intel, like most bad decisions these days. There was no next train two minutes behind. Only another 8-car train fifteen minutes away. So I made my second bad decision. When the Pittsburg Bay Point train showed up, I decided to ride back one stop to Orinda. I calculated that I should make it there with a minute to spare to catch the SF train and maybe have enough of a head start to get a seat. As it happened, either the SF train was early or my train ran slow; as the door on my train opened at Orinda, I watched the doors on the SF train across the platform close. It was pulling away before I was halfway across the platform, and the next train wasn’t for thirteen minutes.

That’s when I called V the GL at work and asked her to put a sign up on my computer saying that with any luck I’d be in by ten.

The silver lining was that when that train finally arrived thirteen minutes later, it was a 10-card train and only sparsely populated. I was able to sit down and even nap all the way to Embarcadero. When I debarked, the queasiness was gone, and I’ve felt better all day. Maybe it’s just the morning commute that’s making me sick. I’ll let you know tomorrow.
*Do not fret, Mama Dog! I was merely making a humorous sally! Gainfully employed I shall remain!


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