After a long and annoying day, capped off by a trip to the gym (ugh), followed by a return trip to the office to retrieve my phone that I’d left sitting on my desk, I walked to the bus stop at a leisurely pace. NextBus.com had advised the 2-Clement wouldn’t arrive for ten minutes. So imagine my chagrin when I saw it pulling away from the stop just as I got to the intersection. Sigh… Oh well – I’ll just hop on the California St. cable car.
Of course, as I get to within about 20 feet of it, I hear the bell ring and off it goes. Now mind you, I’m getting on at the terminus right across from my office. The cable car was just starting to roll from a dead stop, so I sprinted and jumped on just as it got underway – about 10 feet from where it had been sitting at a complete standstill. “Oh good,” I thought to myself, “I just made it. I’ll be home soon to get in some Rock Band rehearsal time.”
As I sit down, the conductor came flying through the car to berate me for jumping onto a moving cable car. Now, I won’t quibble – he’s probably right. I’m no spring chicken and my hip is just waiting to be broken. But be that as it may, he didn’t have to be such a major league asshole about it. He was both shouting and talking to me like a kid who he’d just caught shoplifting. “Now you know you’re not supposed to jump on like that! You can get me and the gripman in a lot of trouble! You know you’re not supposed to do that, right?!” Blah, blah, blah – a regular tirade. OK, I get it and I apologized (but insincerely… Ha! I showed him). “If you ever do that again on my cable car, I’ll put you off!” And then he’s staring at me like a maniac, apparently committing my face to his mental mugshot gallery. “And I’ll remember you if you ever try that again on my car!” Jesus, enough already – point taken.
Of course I wisely refrained from using either my initial response (screaming “FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE!” as I jumped from the moving cable car, middle finger raised defiantly) or my second (“You know, I’ve been riding cable cars a lot longer than you’ve been skimming the fares on them…”) and just buried my nose in my PDA.
A couple of minutes later, he’s back next to me. “You know, every day we see people do that and they wind up in the hospital! People get seriously injured, we have to call an ambulance!” Blah, blah, blah… Jesus H. Christ! My response was snippy at this point – “Alright, I get it,” I hissed through clenched teeth. Lucky for me, someone else boarded while the car was not moving but in a manner the conductor didn’t find to be up to his clearly exacting standards for safe passage, so his wrath was now redirected toward her…
I figure this annoying cable car trip is just about over. But then the guy standing on the running board in front of where I’m sitting asks the conductor in a too-loud, overly-solicitous nasally whine, “How long is this good for?” referring to his ticket.
“It’s a one-way ticket.”
“So I can’t use it get back?”
“No it’s a one-way ticket. You’ll need another ticket to return.”
“So if I want to come back, I can’t use this again?”
“No, you’ll need to buy another ticket.”
“And how much is that?”
OH MY GOD! SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP… He’s yelling all of this almost directly into my face, my ears slowly dripping blood from my now-shattered eardrums. And it continues – a lengthy discussion of day passes, Fast Passes, one-way tickets – ad infinitum.
As you can imagine, it’s all extremely irritating. But to cap it all off? It wasn’t some hayseed tourist who thought he was on an amusement park ride. It was some guy who lives here on his way from the office! “It’s just been so long since I’ve taken the cable, I wasn’t sure how it worked!” Is it really that complicated?
And what’s with people who ride public transit during commute hours and talk? Commuting is to be done in silence, eyes shut or glued to reading material or staring at an indeterminate point in space out the window. There is to be no interaction of any kind amongst passengers or between passengers and operators. The only exceptions are screaming frantically “Back door! BACK DOOR!” if the back door doesn’t open at your stop; and rolling your eyes in unison with all the other passengers while you all start shouting “Step down! STEP DOWN!” or “Push the bar! PUSH THE BAR!” at the rube screaming “Back door!”