The View, Manners & the Walking Clueless

So this morning I was groggy from the cat dancing on my head at 4am so I could pet her and in desperate need of a grande non-fat Chai Latte when I was subjected to a very noisy morning on the ferry.  Some people don’t understand there are “unwritten rules”.  They are agreed on by mind-meld consensus, small signs and just plain manners.  While they aren’t universal to every city or every situation, here are a few we have in the Bay Area.

* Stand on the right, pass on the left.  This refers to escalators.  ANY escalator or moving sidewalk.  I believe it started with BART.  There are some stations that are a few floors below street level and the common rule is if you want to stand and just let the moving stairs do the work – stand on the right side so the people who wish to pass you (either going up or down) can do so on the left side.  When you just stand in the middle and block the flow of pedestrians either trying to get to work or get down to a train, you will piss them off.

* No cell phone conversations on public transportation.  No one wants to hear you ramble on about your kid/dog/cat/sex life/big financial deal or next hooker appointment.  Now some of you may say, “How is that different from two people having a conversation?”  It just is.  I think when you have a conversation in person, you are more aware of your voice level and lets face it, you look like a pretentious ponce carrying on a loud conversation on your phone.

* Supervise your children.  You are the one who decided to have them so they are your responsibility.  This means keeping them from running around in enclosed places (like the ferry), keeping their voices down and teaching them to sit quietly.

All of this builds up to this morning.  The first problem person must have been new.  She either has not rode the ferry before or not during morning commute.  You see, the unwritten rule for the morning commute runs are Quiet.  People are still getting motivated, napping, listening to music, trying to get some work done, reading or otherwise waking up to their day.  Some have not had their daily requirement of coffee and have forgone the onboard ferry coffee for Peets or Starbucks once we dock.  So into that hushed, library-like atmosphere comes a Mom, her infant and 2 kids.

Now I realize that babies fuss.  This one really didn’t fuss too much but the kids….  Gods help me and give me strength with no morning Chai fortification.  They ran, they screamed, they talked in LOUD voices about ducks, the prison, do ducks sit on the ocean, container ships,Treasure Island (No you twit, that is Angel Island), castles on Treasure Island (ANGEL ISLAND) and other nonsensical things non-stop.  I was going to go downstairs since this woman would not shush her kids and then, the cell phone woman started.

She is talking loudly on her cell.  She is thinking, “Well why can’t I?  I’m not talking near as much as that family or making as much noise?”  So I guess 2 wrongs now make a right.  It was annoying but I wasn’t close enough to tell cell lady to hang up or tell clueless Mom to hush her kids.  I tried to sew and kept saying “It’s only 30 minutes.”

Later when I returned to the Ferry Building to pick up a sandwich for lunch, something brilliant occurred to me.  Here I was walking to the Ferry Building, sun shining down, cloudless blue sky above, Coit Tower behind me, the Bay Bridge to the side and the Bay in front of me.  The farmers market was outside the Ferry Building today.  There were people shopping, laughing, taking pictures, a trolley went by and I thought “Damn, I am privileged to be surrounded by all this.  What do I have to complain about?  A few asshats were inconsiderate for 30 minutes but I’m still standing here in the sun on this wonderful day and nothing can ruin that.”  A friend once said something very telling about what we see every day  in The City, “People pay serious coin for that view on vacation”.  He’s right.  I always think how beautiful it is when I see the Golden Gate Bridge from the ferry, especially on a clear day like this.  We are very lucky.  We should appreciate it more and not let the small things get you down.

Hey, I wonder if people in London or Rome or Paris appreciate the view they have?

Posted on April 7, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Yeah!! excellent end 🙂 you are very fortunate, as are we…

  2. Nope, they don’t so much. I heard a lot about how lucky I was that I live in Los Angeles when I was in London, and when I told them that many people would say the same about them being lucky to live in London in all of its beauty, they looked at me like I was crazy. Sad, really. But then, we always appreciate those things that are not ours much more than we appreciate those things which are. I think it goes the same way with history. That being said, those travel rules are unwritten every place that has public transit! I hate it when people don’t get it. I will say that it is one thing I quite enjoyed about London…everyone abided by those rules, particularly “stand on the right, pass on the left!”

  3. You are very lucky. I live in Houston, and the view here is… well… lacking what you get to admire 🙂

    I visited Japan once and I was *amazed* at the non-stop good etiquette on their public transportation. It is very easy for me to envy that when someone decides to annoy me during my commute (especially in the morning).

    http://eleganterica.wordpress.com/2010/02/23/how-does-thou-annoy-me-let-me-count-the-ways/

    • I’ve never had the opportunity to visit Houston with the exception of the airport but I have been to Dallas. I will say that I was awed by the vastness of Texas. I almost felt naked. It was so flat and open, I felt like a small mouse caught out in the open, afraid a raptor was going to swoop out of the sky and eat me. Wide open space doesn’t even begin to cover it! Things ARE bigger in Texas.

      I hope to get to Japan one day. It sounds wonderful.

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