Friday, September 3, 2010

Dear Nathaniel Ford - Art Project?

Dear Nathaniel Ford,

I'm sure you know by now that the past couple of days have seen major failures in the evening commute. On Wednesday, my commute home involved 9 stops and took about 45 minutes. From the frighteningly crowded Powell platform, I rode in to Embarcadero. That platform was equally crowded so I squeezed into a J Church and rode home. (See previous announcement about The Silence of the Drivers; our Wednesday driver was so silent in the face of delays that a number of people in the car started making false announcements. "Next stop, 18th and Market. We should be there in an hour." Funny. Sad.)

Last night, it was my usual four stops, but it still lasted for 40 minutes. When I arrived on the platform, the announcement was:
2 car - L - in two minutes.
1 car - K - in three minutes.
1 car - J - in five minutes.
2 car - L - in six minutes.
And so on.
I let the first L pass. It was packed and I figured I'd jump on the K.
Then a 2 car N appeared.
Another pair of Ns followed a minute later.
Then nothing for 8 minutes.
Yet the announcements continued to promised the much desired Ls and Ks.
I began to wonder if it was a performance art piece along the lines of the French Avant Garde. I pictured an artist named Simone pitching her twisted idea to the SF Arts Commission.
"We shall emphasize the banality of commuter expectations by making meaningless announcements and releasing trains in an endlessly absurd pattern."

You know what would be great, Nathaniel Ford?

If the evening commute took advantage of the predictability of our city workers' actual travel patterns. I do it the same way every day. I see many many fellow passengers each day.

Perhaps we're banal in our predictability, but is that any reason to subject us to absurdity?


Andy K said...

had me cracking up. Good stuff.

Mike said...

Ha, I have experienced the same thing. I think the next train is pretty much guaranteed not to be the one that is announced.