A young woman spoke to me on the train platform yesterday.
“Excuse me, do you know which train I take to get to the Embarco?” She had a British accent, and she spoke in a timid voice I could hardly hear in the noisy station.
I stared at her for a moment, my morning brain slowly whirring and grinding into awareness. I had only had one cup of coffee, and I wasn’t at peak performance. “The Embarcadero?” I asked.
Her face lit up. “Yes! That’s it.”
“I think you’re going to get on this one,” I said, pointing to the arriving train headed towards Daly City. I wasn’t entirely sure if I was steering her right. I’ve only been in the area for two months, after all, and my experience with BART is limited to the stops between Civic Center and the Mission. But I hoped that my directions were good, because I was getting on the same train as her.
We both looked at the rail map inside the train car, and found out I was right. I stood with my hand in the ceiling-loop and turned my feet to the angled pose I learned from the Red Line in Chicago.
“Are you on vacation?” I asked her when the train started moving.
“Vacation,” she said. I could hear her morning brain whirring and grinding into awareness.
“Yes, I am on vacation,” she said. She smiled, and she looked like somebody who was travelling on their own for the first time and was scared but also so, so excited.
I got off the train and told her to have a good stay in the city. My California way of saying Embarcadero really isn’t any more right than hers, you know.