Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Guess the BART Stop

“They're called stereo-types for a reason,” I was scolded.  “Yeah, because they’re often true,” I muttered under my breath. “Because, they’re often not true,” she continued.  True or not, they make for some entertaining time-passing on public transit.

One of my favorite games on my way home from work is called “Guess the BART stop.”  People watching upped with a predictive element. Based pretty much solely on stereo-types, I guess at which BART station other passengers will off-board.  I’m correct more often than I’m wrong, but not nearly 100% accurate.

Red line coming out of San Francisco.

Some are pretty easy and obvious. Pink or green hair, odd piercings, extremely flamboyant clothing; most certainly getting off the train at Downtown Berkeley.

Some are a little tougher for pegging the exact stop, but easy enough to narrow-done fairly well.  Mid-40s in professional clothing; if they didn’t get off at MacArthur to get into their car or switch to the Pittsburg/Bay Point line going out to the big house, big yard suburbs, they’ll most likely exit the train at North Berkeley, where they’ll get into their car and drive to their home in the hills.  Really ghetto-dressed people, often playing badly distorted music at top volume from their cell phones, who don’t exit the train at one of the Oakland stops are likely to stay on until Richmond. Though occasionally, some of the younger ones go to Downtown Berkeley.

Late 20s, early 30s hipsters in their skinny jeans and plaid shirts; it depends. If it’s commute time and they’ve got their terribly ironic and practical messenger bag with the seatbelt buckle tossed around their back, they’ll likely get off at Ashby, maybe a few stragglers at Downtown Berkeley. But if it’s later in the evening or it’s a train going the other direction, they’ll most likely exit at one of the downtown Oakland stops.

Red Line pre-San Francisco

The BART-leg of my commute home actually begins in Millbrae. But, I have not learned enough about the neighborhoods’ on the Peninsula and heading into the City to be able to play the game down there. All the people at that point just look the same to me.

Orange Line to Freemont

I can also sort of play on my way into work, when I take the orange line to Union City. However, since I board BART so near the end of the line (and so early in the morning), there aren’t really a lot of people to watch and guess about.  The main thing is to guess which people will transfer at MacArthur to the San Francisco bound train. It’s pretty much everyone other than me who is dressed nicely.

As I spend more time on BART, I get better at the game. But then, just when I’m starting to get too proud of myself and think I have everything figured out, a noisy phone-blasting kid gets off at North Berkeley, or someone with pink hair rides all the way to my stop.  “They’re called stereo-types for a reason,” because they can help you make a quick judgment when you need to but not necessarily a correct judgment.

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