Monday, June 25, 2007

far more grotesque user error

Tonight my brother, mom, and I ate indian food for dinner, on University Ave. My mom is visiting my brother for the time being, to help him get settled into his apartment.

Afterwards we needed to take the caltrain -- the two of them back to my brother's apartment in San Carlos, and me up to San Francisco to move into my new crash pad.

As we sauntered down University Ave, I looked up the train schedule and realized the next train would depart in seven minutes.

We ran for it.

We arrived breathless at the Palo Alto station just as the train pulled in. "Get on!" I said. "We'll buy tickets at the next stop!" The train only runs once per hour on weekends, and I didn't want us to sit there waiting.

My mom and I jumped onto the caltrain. My brother entered through a separate section in order to store his bicycle that he collected from Stanford today. He came and found us after a few minutes.

At the next stop, Tom ran off to buy three tickets. Because there were so few people getting off, the train jolted forward after only a few short seconds. My mom pounded on the doors as they closed on Tom, who was only a few steps away. In his hand, he held three caltrain tickets and my credit card.

"He'll have to ride the next train," I said to my mom. "We have to find his bike so that you can take it to his apartment. We have to hurry! San Carlos is only two stops away!"

We rushed through train compartments until we found the luggage section. There we tried to decipher which of the four bicycles belonged to Tom. We looked frantically through tags, locks, and stickers. Finally we figured out the right one, just as the train lurched to its second stop.

"Go, go!" I said. My mom grabbed the bicycle and carried it down the steps off the train and onto the platform. As the doors closed behind her and the train began moving again, I breathed a sigh of relief.

Then the conductor said, "Next stop, San Carlos."

"Shit!" I said.

So, my brother was stuck in one train station with my credit card. My mom was stuck at a different one with his bicycle. Both of them had to wait an hour for the next train.

Two minutes later, the conductor came through. "Tickets please!" he said.

I got an enormous fine for not having a ticket.

...

A couple hours later, as I related the story to Dan over the phone, I laughed so hard at the absurdity that tears came to my eyes.

"It's like that brainteaser," I gasped between laughter, "Where you have to transport the goat, the cabbage, and the wolf across the river."

Though I do feel bad to my brother and my mom. Sorry.

14 comments:

Derek said...

that really sucks!!! but its funny! :)

ArC said...

Is there any lesson to take from all this?

(besides the incredible suckiness of Bay Area "rapid" transit, that is.)

Anonymous said...

The story would be better if you all had the "runs" from bad Indian food and then your Mom got arrested for stealing someones bike! ;-)

thomashan said...

I thought for sure you were going to say that you and your mom grabbed the wrong bike!

daphnia said...

Gosh, that's awful. Hopefully your luck will improve as the week progresses (shaking lucky rabbit's foot, trying not to think of the double-amputee rabbit).

Here's something funny to inject a little levity into your day. Oh heck, and something else.

DH said...

i hope i never have to rely on train systems :/

Prolific Programmer said...

I've been able to make the muni fare inspector give up on me by pretending I don't speak English, addressing him in French. Hey, it works and I didn't get hauled off to the police station.

Anonymous said...

The story really cracked me up! I thought I had a bad day... but I guess this is worse.

Better luck tomorrow!

John K. Lin said...

That's just too funny. You & Caltrain are just cursed!

Dirk said...

I remember when you bought your caltrain ticket on the train. That was before the ticket kiosks were put into use. If the conductor didn't reach you by your stop, then you had a free ride. Otherwise, you just paid for the zone. Ahh, the good old days before technology advanced to its current state. Ahh, the irony.

ArC said...

Hey, why don't they just put a few ticket kiosks on the train?

Miss u wanna kiss u said...

Just think how bad that would really suck 10 years ago before cell phones...

And You.. Niniane.. Only carry 1 credit card?? Impossible...

You were just too cheap to buy another ticket?

Anonymous said...

Er, do you feel -- sorry to your mother and brother OR sorry *for* your mother and brother!

Such picky readers! We want you to be a better writer Niniane. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that if you stand in the doorway and don't let the doors close, the train won't move on.