The little things about commuting by train

Friday evening, I was riding the train home from work. I move to the vestibule, as the Mountain View stop is coming up. There were two other men standing there, waiting to get off as well. I smelled something familiar and annoying. Then I realised it was that A&F perfume. Ew.

I’m not fond of that retailer, and it bugs me that literally whenever you walk past any of there stores even outside of it, that you’re forced to wade through a cloud of their signature smell, which I find obnoxious. In fact their NYC store can be detected a full block away by nose, before your eyes see it. Ew ew ew.

I told my friend Dar later, knowing she’d get a kick out of this story, since she’s a big fan of A&F. She wrote back,

“ha..ha… i know why. A&F gave out free fragrance rollerballs on friday with any purchase! i couldn’t go or else I would have loved one!”

The train stopped, and I got off, walking along the full length of the platform toward the other end, to retrieve my bike. I could hear a crowd-babel of voices up ahead, but couldn’t see very well in the dark, what with the rest of the commuters rushing around as well.
“Gee,” I thought to myself, “they’re not very loud. You’d think they’d have bullhorns.” I had assumed they were ‘Occupy Mountain View’ protesters.

Instead, as I approach closer, I hear ‘Jingles Bells.’ All these boys with kerchiefs around their necks are sitting on the access ramp railings, with their dads standing, caroling the passengers getting off the train. To the side is a table with a box; these Cub Scouts are also selling mistletoe as a fundraiser, $5 a pop. Funnily enough, the kid pitching the sell the loudest is an adorably spunky girl in a yellow jacket!

It put such grin on my face that (1) these were no ‘Occupy’ protester but (2) kids singing Christmas carols at the Caltrain station. I actually turned back donated $3 to them. I didn’t have a need for the mistletoe.

Earlier this year, when I was commuting by BART, I got a kick out of the occasional fellow passenger who would be a kid, listening to rap on his or her headphones, and rapping out loud along with whatever was playing on the phone/MP3 player. Neither their player nor their voice was be loud; it was just the earnestness and how much they got into singing along that amused me. It simply reminded me of the ritual chanting by monks that you have at special events in Thailand (weddings, funerals, making-merit). The sacred and the profane both roll along the same rhythms.


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