Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I took BART to San Francisco on Saturday. Just as I went through the stile I realised that, horrors, I left my cell phone at home! I felt a few moments of unparalleled anxiety. Should I go back to get it? That would mean paying for yet another ticket. My unused fare would go to waste. I had already entered the station, and as it is, a ride to and from San Francisco is damned expensive. Could I possibly survive half a day without my phone? What if there were some disaster and I needed to call someone? What if my hordes of friends all decide to call me today? This thought is, of course, a flight of fancy, the truth is that hardly anyone calls me.

A reality check. I carry around my phone for days without ever using it. And, of course, I survived for years and years without such a device. I did have my book with me, far more essential than a phone. Phoneless, I sat on BART and looked around, there wasn't one person without tubes hanging from their ears, or looking down at a phone, texting, chatting, bopping to music, talking, gesticulating, laughing. Everyone has things to chat about, or listen to, or text, non stop. The more I looked at this frenzied activity around me, the more I began to feel better without any device. Just me and my thoughts, which goodness knows keep me occupied, and of course, my book.

Every now and then I like to get on BART and go somewhere, without any specific destination in mind. I have always enjoyed people watching. Today there seemed to be some kind of event - now I know I will annoy someone, sorry - for either transvestites, transgenders, or transsexuals. Many men headed purposefully in one direction down Maiden Lane. One wore multi colored boots, pink, turquoise, black, and white leather, with very high heels and a skintight top (he had no breasts) and tight pants. Soon another walked by, his face was really well made up. He too wore very high heels. They were followed by many men in very high heels, with fanciful hairdos. How they managed to walk, and gracefully at that, I have no idea. And of course everyone had some electronic device in hand, or glued to an ear.

In the midst of all of this I remembered a couple of interactions at the Starbucks drive through windows this past week. I ordered a misto and a chai latte, and the reply of the 'barista' came through the microphone - "awesome."

Two days later, at a different drive through I ordered a latte, the 'barista' said, "cool." I wonder if they are being trained to make nonsensical replies to customers so as to make them feel as if their specific order is somehow one of the most meaningful orders that has ever been made. How meaningless our interactions have become.

And now I am going back to struggle with my website. Bye.

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