Usually, people are happy to meet with me in our quite nice San Francisco office. It’s in the heart of the financial district (if finance can be considered to have a heart), and less than a block to the nearest BART station. Add in the flat screen TV in the lobby and our handsome receptionist with the candy jar on his desk, and what’s not to love?
However, some people have much fancier offices than ours and want me to observe the fanciness while they observe how impressed I am. Others are allegedly local (up to 30 miles away) and want me to haul Self to whatever far flung burg their office is in to “kick the tires”. This tire-kicking motif* inevitably comes up when I have tried in vain to convince them to make the commute instead of Me.
So off I went to kick some tires at some distant locale. I ended up kicking myself instead.
When I arrived at the BART station, there was a suspiciously large number of people on the platform, looking even more disgruntled than usual. The train showed up, and we packed on in the manner popularized by Japanese bullet trains. The train just sat there stubbornly in the late morning heat. Finally, a disembodied voice ordered us off the train. We all trooped back onto the platform, and the train lumbered away.
A new, though apparently not improved, train arrived a few minutes later. It sat there coyly, refusing to open its doors. Eventually it, too, vanished. The disembodied voice informed us that there was a problem (you don’t say!) and there would be unspecified delays.
I called the guy I was supposed to meet with to tell him that I would be at least an hour late. I tried to reschedule, but he wouldn’t hear of it (being safely ensconced in his distant office), so I resigned myself to the mercy of BART.
Eventually a train came. It wasn’t going where I was supposed to go, but I figured I could transfer at the downtown Oakland stop. The train pulled out of my station, well over an hour after I first arrived there, with all the passengers doing an extremely accurate impersonation of a can of sardines and making it impossible for me to read the Vanity Fair with the Best Dressed List. After a couple of minutes, it stopped between my stop and the next stop, and had a little siesta.
Feeling refreshed from its 20 minute power nap, it did get to me to the transfer station, where I stepped out into a little piece of midtown Manhattan, being buffeted on all sides, attacked by errant briefcases, up close and way too personal with total strangers. I was relieved to arrive on the crowded platform to wait for Train Number Two.
Although Train Number Two was supposed to go to the end of the line, where I was supposed to go, it unaccountably felt the need for a Train One type nap when it was two stops away, and went out of service, yawning its way out of the station. It was approximately 20 degrees cooler at this station, which was wreathed in fog. Train Three appeared after only fifteen minutes, and I finally arrived at my destination a mere three hours after arriving at my BART station.
Once in the conference room, I could see that I was a few miles south of SFO , and almost directly across the Bay from Oakland.
*They can never resist sports metaphors, either, particularly baseball. “We really hit it out of the park this year”; “We always try to get on base”. etc. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a meeting where this didn’t come up, and I always smile to myself when it makes its appearance.