So there I was on BART in the airport station in San Francisco, trying to gage the differences between here and Mexico. The train had been sitting here for over five minutes now, doors wide open, and so I had plenty of time for my own thoughts. The first difference, then, was that the Mexico City metro would NOT sit at a station for five minutes.
Finally, a voice came over the intercom to explain all of this particular train's destinations and to inform us that the doors would now be closing. I noticed that the voice was that of a new driver, as it had changed genders since the last informative announcement. A man who had been standing just outside the door talking loudly on his cellphone stalled another minute before finally stepping through the entrance. Of course, his bag got stuck between the closed doors. He tugged at it and the doors slid open again, a red light flashed and an automatic voice informed us that the door was blocked and to please stand clear of the doors.
It's not that the metro doesn't have this mechanism; it even has an automatic voice, and I would know--it once got stuck on repeat as we sped down the tracks. But the doors in the metro would sooner drag you by the arm down the tunnel than open. The image sticks in my mind of my father having to pry them open once as our family got separated between them--me on one side, them on the other--somewhere beneath the busy metropolis.
What struck me the most, though, was this man's confidence in the system. He almost had a sense of entitlement that his squished suitcase should stay intact no matter how long he wanted to pause before entering the car. When the doors slid open again he righted the bag and calmly walked to his seat.
The seats are another thing about the metro. I'm pretty sure BART is wider to begin with, but it is also emptier. And much better ventilated. So I sat there in comfort as we rode along down the tunnel (although admittedly at a much slower pace than the metro). The conductor's voice narrated the whole time.
By the time we were in downtown San Francisco I had moved on to wondering about an advertisement showing a poor African woman. The metro has ads for organizations, too, but featuring Mexicans who have been helped rather than foreigners. What a weird culture, I thought, in which Americans don't like to look at or acknowledge their own poor. Poverty is something that can only happen somewhere else. I wonder if this is the same mindset for swine flu. I was still pondering this depressing thought when we passed through the Embarcadero station and a crowd of baseball fans came on.
A group of strangers all wearing Dodgers gear struck up a conversation, one man in his 30's using the phrase "Fuck yeah!" as a means of introduction, high fiving his fellow fanatics. The one Giants fan on the train stood by the door with a defeated smile on his face, his girlfriend trying to comfort him. It was at this point that I began to wonder why there were so many Dodgers fans in the Bay Area.
I spent the rest of the time wondering if my fellow passengers would freak if they knew I was coming from Mexico City. My facemask still hung limply around me neck.