Friday, November 7, 2008

Quarterly commute update

This has been a stressful couple of weeks on Caltrain - partly due to trains hitting pickups and lost hikers and partly due to continuing shuttle bus issues here at work.

Yesterday morning a train hit a pickup somewhere down south of San Jose. This caused issues with the northbound trains, but since I was going southbound, I risked the ride and it went OK. Until the shuttle bus showed up.

Back in September I mentioned that our shuttle bus driver was an incredibly mentally challenged woman with a bad attitude. The good news is that she only lasted about one more week before she was canned. Her replacement, Angel, was pretty good and things have been going smoothly since he started. 

Of course this meant that he would be leaving soon, and sure enough, he quit yesterday. So the shuttle bus shows up with a driver that knows very little about where he is going. He was nice enough and understood what we meant when we said helpful things like "turn right here" and "don't hit that car there." 

The good news is that I found out yesterday that my company is changing bus companies - they have gotten tired of the complaints regarding bad drivers, worse busses, and an overall bad attitude shown by a company with the ironically odd name of Serendipity Land Yachts. The new company has new busses and will supply more frequent trips back and forth between the campus and the train station. 

So the near future is looking up.

Except this morning. Someone mistook the train tracks for a hiking trail and was hit in Mountain View, just south of the train station I normally use. Amazingly, the guy was not killed, but the train commute was ruined, so I drove in.

Here's a true story from last night that illustrates how stupid people are and why these sorts of things happen.

I'm standing on the northbound platform in Mountain View waiting for the train, which is just a few minutes away. A couple of older people on my side, dressed for a nice dinner or a play, are yelling to some similar people on the southbound platform. "Come over to this side and you can buy your tickets here." So the southbound people start ambling over to the train crossing. They see the train coming and start to run. All of them but one managed to get across the tracks technically before the crossing gates were completely down, but an older woman in their group didn't - the sprint had been a bit more challenging for her.

But damned if she was going to wait - she ducked under the crossing arm and jogged across the tracks. The train was right there and blaring the horn. I really thought I was about to see someone die. Her heel catches on a rail and it is all over. 

But she made it.

The well dressed group seemed a mix of emotions; from relishing the adventure to being a bit stressed by all this. Here's the thing - there was no way they were going to make that train if they didn't already have tickets. Even with no line at the ticket machine, unless you are a Caltrain veteran it will take a few minutes to work out what sort of ticket you need and press the right buttons to get it. Also, the next train was only nine minutes away. It was really no big deal to miss this train. 

But they stupidly risked their lives in a stupid last minute panic effort to make the stupid train.

Just plain amazing. Oh, and stupid.

That's it - move along...

1 comment:

mary ann said...

And it has to be a horrid kind of death.