Thursday, June 18, 2009

Steady as she goes.

There are a lot of things in life that I choose to be ignrorant about; basketball, reality television, how life insurance works, and lady stuff. For instance, if I am watching television and a commercial for a feminine product comes on, that's generally the end of my television watching - I'll go find something else to do. (Part of the reason for this is that if a commercial like that comes on, I know I'm probably watching a show intended for an entirely different audience than I thought.)

It's not just feminine products though. I'm also willfully ignorant of makeup. I know that most women wear it, and I know that there is a process of putting it on, but I have never watched it done. My wife wears makeup, but I couldn't tell you exactly what or how much, or even what brand. I can confirm 100% that she wears lipstick, because I have seen her putting it on in the car. Other than that, it's all a mystery to me, and that makes me very happy. I don't have a problem with makeup, but I do believe that some things in a relationship should remain a mystery. If you ask my wife, housework is also one of those things that I choose to remain ignorant about, but that is a blog with a different name:

How does this all relate to the train, you ask? I was given a crash course in makeup application yesterday. I got on the train a little late, which generally means more people, and that leads to a better chance of wierd behavior. This older (mid to late 40's?) woman got on the train, sat down, and proceeded to unfold this rag and put it on her lap.

I wish my phone had zoom, because you lose a lot without seeing exactly how the rag looks - it's covered in blue, black, pink, and brown stains. It's a lot like a shop rag, but much more colorful. She then proceeded to lay out her working tools. Several compacts came out of her bag, along with several different brushes and tubes, all of which were laid out on her rag. She started by applying a basecoat of something over her entire face.
This took a couple of coats of different stuff, and about two train stops to get things just right. You can't see it in the picture because I didn't have a good angle, but the woman next to her was also applying makeup at the same time - she was yapping away on her cell phone the entire time though, and not taking it as seriously as our the woman in the brown shirt. After the basecoat came the eye makeup.
This took a couple of different things from different compacts. I believe she ended up with two tone eyelids at the end of the entire process, which took about 3 train stops. After the eyeshadow it was time to curl her eyelashes. I've seen one of these tools in the bathroom before, but I've never seen it used - I had no idea you had to squeeze your lashes for 5 or more minutes each. It was very surreal watching someone do this in public. At this point, her seatmate was finished and had already put away her makeup kit.
After using her lash tool, it was time to apply mascara. I didn't get a good photo of the mascara process, but I'm sure most of you are familiar with that. It was the next step that really made this whole process worth writing about. After she put her mascara away, she got out a safety pin and proceeded to separate her lashes with it. On the train. That bounces a lot.
If you look closely at the photo, you can see that her mouth is open in an "o" shape, I guess to enable her to open her eyes even wider. I don't have any pictures of myself at this moment, but I can guarantee you that my mouth was making the same "o" shape. I, however, was making mine in shock as opposed to trying to keep my eyes open as wide as possible in order to wave a giant safety pin around them. I could not believe it. In fact, in writing about it now I am getting a little shiver down my spine. The DART train is a rough ride - I can't think of any part of the ride downtown that is smooth enough for me to even let go of the handrail I hold onto, much less smooth enough to comb my eyelashes with a sharp metal instrument designed to poke holes in stuff.
After she finished her daredevil stunt, Lady Steadyhands put her makeup in the bag, shook off her little rag on the floor, and proceeded to read the paper, as if nothing was out of the ordinary. I have 2 questions about this woman; 1. Is it really that important to sleep that extra 25 minutes, so important that you are willing to share the intimate process of making yourself up for the day with a bunch of strangers? 2. Are you a brain surgeon with hands that steady? If not, you have the wrong career.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sleepy, Dopey, and Stinky

I have had a very long week - I closed on my home refinance, conducted the last stated meeting of my Masonic year, lost power in the great storm of aught nine (and as of Saturday, I am still without power), and just kind of generally have had a wierd week.

I rode my motorcycle most of the week, except on Thursday when my wife was kind enough to chauffeur me to the office during the morning monsoon - though I am sure that having no power in the house had something to do with her decision. On Friday, though, I got to ride the train. It was nice to have a little bit of normalcy in an otherwise out of control week and it's even nicer to visit with you all and share my experience.

Even though I needed it, I didn't take my mountain bike to do my normal long ride home on Friday. I just took my folding bike instead, and I actually got a seat. I'll admit that since I had no power I did leave a little earlier than normal, so I took the 6:45 train instead of the 7:10. While it was nice to have a seat, I was a little disturbed when this woman sat next to me 2 stops into the ride.
I'm sure that most of you who know me are aware that I used to be a smoker. I happily puffed away for almost 18 years, and finally quit for good when my daughter was born. I must admit that when I smoked I was blissfully unaware of how much I stank; now, especially after having this woman sit next to me, I know exactly how much I stank. I do like to think though that my breath was a touch better. I don't know what you have to eat to have breath as bad as hers - breath so bad that at times it overpowers the reek of stale cigarette smoke that surrounds you like a cloud. I wanted to breathe through my mouth, but I really didn't think it'd be too much better to eat her odor instead of just smelling it.

Thankfully, I was a little distracted from the noxious cloud next to me by this guy getting on the train - not the guy in the khaki shorts, but the guy with the nice white high tops and shorts that really aren't. If you notice, against the wall is a large old school boombox, jambox, or ghetto blaster, whatever you wish to call it. The kid in the white sneakers and almost pants got on the train carrying his sound system with him (thankfully not on, as I'm pretty sure our tastes would not be the same) and since he was too cool for school, he just stopped in the middle of the entrance.
However, he wasn't the last person trying to get in that door. He just decided that he was going to stand in the doorway (as we have discussed here before) and stopped getting on. There were two people behind him, and in the true doorway stander tradition, they became the jerks who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was not moving, so both had to physically push past him and his silly radio in order to get on the car. Keep in mind that while you see people standing around him, there were still several seats available on the train when he was boarding, and that the people pushing past him found seats immedately and sat down.

On the afternoon ride home, however, there were no seats open - I caught the 4:30 train, and that one fills up pretty quickly. Well, I say no seats were available, but there was one that was not being used fully.
This woman feigned sleep from Citiplace station until we reached Galatyn Park station in Richardson. Looks comfy, doesn't she? I had a seat for part of the ride, but I gave it up when this woman got on.
I don't know if she was pregnant or just portly, but it was very obvious that she wanted to sit down - she kept gazing longingly down the car at all of us lucky folks who were able to take a load off on the way home. I waited for a minute to see if Sleeping Beauty would put her feet on the floor where they belonged so that this woman could take a seat. She did not. I hopped up and gave her my seat, bumping the sleeping woman's feet purposely as I walked by. She did not move. I know that if she was sleeping, my bump would have certainly awakened her, so I know that she was faking, and that she was just more important than anyone else.
I wish I was that important - I might be able to get my electricity turned back on.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The things I do for you.

This is probably going to be a sparse week for posts, as I took yesterday off, and I am going to be riding my motorcycle for several days this week. Sorry everyone!

I did take Monday off, and I took my non-folding big bike for a nice long ride out into what used to be the sticks - Wylie, Murphy, and Sachse. Unfortunately, it's no longer the sticks, and there are a lot of people out on the roads in that direction nowadays. I would like everyone reading to promise me that when you see a cyclist on the road you will either change lanes, or if that isn't an option, that you will at least give them plenty of room when you pass. I was buzzed about 4 times yesterday on roads that had plenty of room - once I was buzzed with two other open lanes beside me. Not cool folks, not cool. I get that you are in a car, and I get that "the roads belong to you" (an argument I have heard several times) but I'm not using much of the road, and there is plenty more for you. Just let me sweat out my miles in peace.

I know you didn't come today to hear me rant about assholes on the backroads of Texas - you came to read about goings on on Dallas' public transportation system, so on we go.
After I posted a photo of a woman in a sleep mask, I was told that I needed to blog what I see, and take photos. I'm happy to do that, but I want you to understand what sort of risks I take for you, my gentle reader.
I took a picture of this old guy because he had a little purse full of laminated schedules for the train, was checking his watch against the schedules at every station, and was visibly wincing when we were off. I ride the trains in a very Zen way, not really concerned with how late or on time I am, and I assume that the trains are not running like clockwork anyway. In fact, on more than one occasion my train has come to a complete stop in the middle of the tracks for several minutes with no explanation from the driver. This guy, however, was very serious about the trains being on time. That's not why I post the photo though. Please notice the large armed fellow to his left - the one staring at me while I take the picture. I guess that my clever ruse of "playing with my iPhone" didn't work, and he knew exactly what I was up to. I didn't notice when I was taking the picture, but I did notice when I got home and looked through my photos; it was kind of like finding a ghost in the picture you took of your Grandma.

I have been taking pictures on the train, and in the station, for a little while and Mr. Bigarms is the first person I can confirm has caught me. I hope he is the last, because while I can ride my bicycle pretty fast, I think that having to unfold my bike will slow me down a great deal. I'm not super worried about it because all of the DART police I have seen are pretty fat, but these signs seem pretty serious.
Though I don't know whose permission to ask. Bigarms?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lettuce Cup

I knew that as soon as I comitted to starting a blog about the strange stuff one sees on public transportation, said strange stuff would clear up. Well, that has come to pass, and the last few days on the DART rail have been totally without incident. I did see a lady with a goatee, but I couldn't get a clear picture of it because it was like the goatee of a 13 year old boy. Plus, I think that if she had caught me, her extra testosterone might have given her an edge over me in a fight.

Since the train has been fairly uneventful, I thought I would take a minute and talk to you about the way people treat public places. The train station at Citiplace is a modern wonder, in that there are trash cans all over the place - in fact, I would venture a guess that unless you are on the escalator, you are probably no farther than 10 feet from a trash can at any given moment. Some people, however, can't even wait that long to dispose of their trash.
These two cups sit between a set of trash cans. One sip earlier, or one step later, both of these could have been thrown away in the proper receptacle. I wish I had come upon the crime in progress, as I am notorious for picking up trash and handing it to people that drop it - I do it in my neighborhood all of the time, and have more than once shamed someone at the park into picking up the trash they have casually tossed on the ground. I have a voice that carries, and I make sure that everyone around can hear exactly what I think of people that have so casual disregard for the world around them.

There are two elevators in Citiplace station, and both are fairly slow, as elevators go. They don't have far to travel, but seem to take an inordinate amount of time to do so. I usually ride the escalators, because the stairs are very long, and I am as lazy as they are steep. I never ride the elevators except under great duress; not because they are slow, as stated before, but because they are slow and they smell of urine. The photo above might show the spot where someone (or several someones) take advantage of the slowness of the elevators and relieve themselves. I have ridden the elevators when the escalators are broken, but for me it is a convenience. I am healthy in limb and lung, and can just as easily carry my bike up the stairs instead of riding. The escalators were down the other day and I rode up with a wheelchair bound man, and I don't think I have ever felt so bad for someone. He has no choice - the horrible urine elevators are the only way out of the station for him. I did notice a Citiplace security badge clipped to his shirt pocket, so this is a ride that he takes every day. I'm no stranger to peeing in public places, but I'd like to talk to the person (or persons) that are fouling the elevators. Here is a photograph of another spot on the walls that I assume is stained by urine.
What is wrong with people? Is this really what we are devolving to? Elevator fouling litter machines that think "someone else will clean it up"? I certainly hope that my readers will follow my lead and call attention to people who treat the world as a giant garbage can.

I saw this guy the other day, and happened to have a package of ranch dressing and a plastic bowl in my bag. I couldn't help but get them out and ask him if he would bum me some of his lettuce. After all, he had twenty or thirty pounds worth.
He said no, but I certainly hope he is blogging about me on his lettuce blog today.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Manners and Money.

I always wear my headphones on the train. Not because I always have music on, but because it keeps people from being suspicious. I can manipulate my phone (take pictures) and just generally become someone else who is in their bubble, rather than that nut with the folding bike checking everyone out. I didn't have music on on Monday, and I got to listen in on this woman.
She has a friend named "Sophie". Sophie's husband, or lover, or what have you, is cheating on her. How do I know? Because the train is loud. Very loud. This woman had to talk over that loudness; the clack of the tracks, the sound of the wind rushing by, and just the general loudness of the car. She also has some strong feelings about "that man" and is very very supportive of Sophie and her ability to find someone else. Her conversation went on at full volume for about fifteen minutes, and while I appreciate the support she has for her friends, I am not particularly a fan of being brought in to a telephone conversation as a spectator. Good luck to you, Sophie, and I hope that you wait until after work to call your friend again. It would certainly make the rest of us on the train a little more comfortable. (Except the guy sleeping next to her, who may be the most comfortable man on Earth. He didn't move once during her conversation.)

I have been riding the train regularly for about a month now; I just buy a pass and don't have to worry about my fare. In the time I have been riding, I have had my pass checked 3 times by fare enforcement. No one riding with me has gotten a fare evasion ticket in that amount of time, so I guess that random enforcement works pretty well. I feel that the fare for the train is set at a reasonable price, with discounted fares available for seniors and kids. A regular rider pays $3.00 for a day pass, and the discounted rate is half of that. A ticket for fare evasion is roughly $100. When I got on the train, I spotted this kid, mostly because of his conspicuous consumption; Sean John jeans, Timberland backpack, Ed Hardy shirt, and very white Nike sneakers. I also quickly spotted the $1.50 he had in his hand.
I watched this kid exit the car at every stop and walk from one doorway to the other, craning his neck up and down the platform in the process. It took me a couple of stops to realize that all of this was in order to save the $1.50 he carried in his sweaty little hand. He was exiting to make sure that there were no fare enforcement officers getting on the car, and that if there were, he would be able to buy his ticket and get back on. I would suspect that he has used this method before, and that by saving $1.50 at a time, he is able to buy his expensive clothes and accessories.
Maybe I should have arranged an introduction to Sophie - her man never had any damn money to spend anyway...