James and I are down to our last few days in the San Francisco Bay area, as I play my final two concerts with the Midsummer Mozart festival. We are SOOOO looking forward to being back in the beautiful, peaceful Woods! We’ll be home by Wednesday.

While I’m still here, I would like to share some excerpts from the handwritten journal which I’ve been keeping all summer. Most of it has been written on the BART train, so a few entries contain snippets of observations that I’ve made on the passengers.

BART train

BART train

From the first day of the journal:

Saturday, May 23, 2009
The train is nearly empty, except for a couple of notable characters — one young woman with suitcases is knitting — something that I have not seen before on the train.

Another “first” is another young woman, who is wearing a white surgical mask.

I had wondered if many people in S.F. would be wearing masks due to the recent swine flu scare, but this is the first one I’ve seen in the week that I’ve been in the area.

June 4, 2009
For a few minutes, I sat on the round concrete bench at Civic Center Station, waiting for the train. There were a couple of old men reeking of booze, and later, a couple of young gals who smelled even worse.

June 7, 2009
Lots of people riding the train today. No-one sitting next to me so far, so it’s definitely more comfortable for me to write — both physically as well as psychically. I’m sure this will change soon.

July 15, 2009
A curly-haired woman in her late 30s or early 40s has just sat down next to me, rapidly working her PDA or whatever they call it these days.

She’s trying to minimize a chronic cough. Has stopped texting now that the train is under the Bay — no cell service. Meanwhile, I can continue to write! It’s sort of funny.

The train is standing-room only. It will be interesting to see if it remains that way through Berkeley. The woman next to me seems to be at a loss without her phone.

The woman is now sneezing and only somewhat covering her mouth — ugh! She’s sort of looking over at what I’m doing and if she’s reading this I can’t be responsible if she takes offense. I sure don’t want to catch her cold!

I am not enjoying this train ride, mainly because of this woman with a cold.

We’ve emerged from the 19th St. Station of Oakland into the sunshine. (Cough-cough) It’s amazing how silent this car is, especially for being so crowded.  Except for the coughing.

Several people on the train are coughing. I’d better be very diligent about washing my hands after being in this kind of enforced public. Turn your face AWAY from me when you cough, woman!!

It looks like I’m going to have to ask her to move to let me out, since we’re now at Ashby and I get off at the next stop, downtown Berkeley.

July 20, 2009
Rush hour. No-one has sat next to me at Civic Center, and there are a lot of standees near the doors. Should I feel guilty? Powell now…I bet someone squeezes in next to me. Which just now happened! An older businessman with briefcase paused next to my seat, seeing my horn case on the floor next to me…I got up to let him sit by the window. Hopefully Murphy’s Law won’t be in effect with him having to get out before I do!

Someone is standing in front of the doors between cars just behind me, which is a little unnerving and the older gentleman next to me is coughing periodically. WHY do I end up with these coughing seat-mates? LOL

Embarcadero…now going under the Bay for the next 5 minutes. Cough-cough. The sound of tinny music issuing from someone’s earbuds — the drum track is the only thing audible. The businessman keeps looking behind him at the woman standing at the connecting doors. He laughed at a comic strip (he’s reading a paper on top of the briefcase in his lap).

Now he’s digging for gold — gross. Sometimes I really don’t like being around people! I’m reaching the end of my rope with this particularly long stint in the Bay area.

Just emerged into the outdoor section of track near West Oakland. Skies are mostly clear here, as usual.

That music is very loud if I can hear it so well through the outside of that woman’s earbuds.

The man next to me keeps coughing, makes a half-hearted effort to cover his mouth. I can still feel the breeze of his cough (now he’s blowing his nose in a hanky — how old-fashioned!)

This particular train ride is putting me into a foul mood.

*     *     *     *     *

Despite these sometimes unpleasant occurences, I’d have to say that all in all, riding the BART trains has been a reasonably positive experience. I love taking public transportation whenever possible, and the SF Bay area is one of the few in the country that actually WORKS. It’s mostly dependable, and gets me where I need to go.