On the caltrain

As the conductor walked down the aisle today checking for tickets, he said aloud, “Trick or treat. Ticket or citation!”

He paused for a moment and said to himself, “Hmmm…that’s too mean…”

Caltrain is a fare-based system where conductors wander up and down the aisles checking the validity of tickets.

But last Sunday, as we took a local caltrain down to Mountain View, a conductor came upon a man who had a ticket that already expired. The man was pulled into the area between the cars. At the next stop, the conductor basically kicked the man off the train saying that he would have to find some way of getting to his destination.

The next train would be in one hour. And at least he was somewhere in the middle of the peninsula rather than the desolate reaches of San Francisco.

I still have yet to see a conductor give someone a citation (how do you give a person a ticket if they don’t have any identification with them?). I only have witnessed conductors being rather harsh with other passengers usually ending with “next time, check your ticket”. But the social conformity and the desire not to cause any trouble almost persuades nearly all of us to buy a ticket even though we may not be checked…

Because it’s the right thing to do.

To Stir Up Emotions

When I was younger, I wanted to be a writer. As I grew up, a screenwriter. A director.

It’s the work that I wanted to do…to inspire someone to think about the world differently. That perhaps they came in thinking one way and when they walk out, it’s different. Or that they felt something deeper inside.

But I ended up being a user experience designer. Not to stir up emotions or inspire, but rather to make life more pleasant and easy, subtlely.

Today, I saw Heebok Lee’s work Tread Softly and it reminded me of the excitement of creation to stir emotion in somebody.

Like titles of the movie…perhaps it’s words and motions in one. You remember what you felt when you wrote it. And when you put visuals on it, it becomes an entirely different beast. But with the same colors and the same textures. And the same emotion.

It’s an ashen sky

“I am ok,” my sister imed me a few days ago.

She’s in Fullerton, fortunately far from fires. And in some way, it’s almost better that she’s just renting…that her home is temporary and not her only place.

Is it worse to have been robbed/looted/ruined by a third party or a natural disaster ruin your home?

For the latter at least, you usually have the chance (if incoming) to get your valuable things. What would you take if you had five minutes? If you had thirty minutes? If you had 5 hours? If you had a car? If you could only walk?

Of the most precious item I have now with me is my laptop and my external drive. Most of my important things are online. Then the books I have scribbled and written in. Then the photos that I have lost digital copies of. And then my bag of memorabilia of things I have done. A drawing a friend did for me. My case with important documents. Emergency first aid.

Then comes the things I would stuff the car with: my blanket, my clothes, my pillow, my favorite books, my angela adams rug, my shoes, my dvds, my CDs, my ice cream scooper, my can opener, my favorite glass mug, the mug my sister gave me for my birthday, my collection of teas, my ottoman, my spindles of CDs, and my Office Space stapler…

Office Lingo

A friend pointed out the lingo in an office…is totally never like real life.

Imagine if I said to someone:

Let’s touch base tomorrow about how we felt about last night’s date. After that, let’s move forward with the next steps.

We should probably set a fire under our differing preferences of food cuisine.

I look forward to meeting with you soon!

Wrongdoing or not at all

A few months back as I was walking back from work, I saw two guys using a lock picker to a car parking along Valencia. It was an average car—not expensive nor cheap-looking. There were several people walking ahead and behind me. I wondered if I should call it in. Were they breaking in? Was it their car? The ambiguity struck me and eventually when I got to the door, I instead forgot about it.

And so the memory returned when I learned that the alarm went off, blaring and lights flashing in Chris’ car on a busy street. Nobody called it in. Nobody said anything at all. Granted, it was already dark. But it wasn’t a side street. It was a main traffic throughput through San Francisco.

He mentioned one time in Berkeley when he had parked his car in a parking spot in a garage. Because he was a student, he often didn’t get to his car until the weekend. And apparently one time he returned to find his car had gotten broken into with the alarm blaring…for nearly three days. There were noise complaints rather than reports of illegal activity or even an alert from the owner of the parking space to Chris about the break-in.

In some way, one lesson isn’t to leave things in your car. But at another route, you can’t depend on anybody to save you.

When I first heard of the bystander effect, I was appalled. But that’s the way it is. When there is too much uncertainty, people don’t react. Even though it wasn’t someone dying, nobody did anything. And somehow, I wouldn’t either because I would think somebody else did…and perhaps nobody did.

Behind them, they heard a smack

I was coming down the escalator after a short trip through the Westfield. Window shopping. I was looking forward to eating the chili I had prepared yesterday, which would have become better today.

I saw the BART train arriving as I hit the last step. Knowing which car I should get on so that I would exit right at the up escalator at my stop, I walked quickly that way. The doors opened with a whoosh and soon in less than 10 minutes I would be home.

Then suddenly, I was not looking at the train, but at the ground. Someone a man had walked into my path. Either deliberately sticking a foot in my way or…just accidentally walking in. Rather than just losing a footstep, I had went face flat, toppled on the ground, letting out a small arrrrgh in my own quiet social anxious way. The small crowd in front of the BART doors gasped almost silently, watching me. Nobody came my way to help me although I was dressed smartly…from work.

I had landed on all fours. My knees and palms stung a bit as I brushed myself. After a short pause, the man started apologizing. I briefly looked up, seeing that it was…not (and to my bias and my discriminatory middle classness) someone I would like to shake hands with…I mumbled, “It’s ok”.

And rather than partaking in my stinging pain, I ran into the BART car and chose to stand. As the train started to move, I checked myself. Thankfully, no scapes, just tenderness from hitting the hard concrete floor.

I went home and iced my left elbow which felt oddly painful.

There was once when you said I was greedy

“Don’t be so greedy,” he said after I choked from trying to eat a handful of chocolate-covered strawberry gummies that were so so so good.

I started feeling guilty. Was it greedy to take a handful of candy? If I see a big bowl of m&ms, sometimes I can’t help but take a handful to eat it all. A bag of sour candy is guaranteed to be gone in 10 minutes even when I try to pace myself. And worse when I have jelly belly beans, I sometimes don’t take my time savoring each bean and rather just put them together—a grape pear cherry chocolate banana popcorn coffee root beer cream soda peanut butter coconut tutti frutti sandwich.

After I recovered (and had experience the satisfaction that only chocolate-covered strawberry gummies can bring), I said, “You can’t say that when I see you gulping a bagel down in less than 3 minutes.”

Then in a moment of enlightenment, I added, “You ate half of the tube the last time you bought one of these for me!”