I took Caltrain down to see Husband this afternoon, with a connection to the light rail system to get me from Mountain View to Hell Central. I'd forgotten how fascinating it is to take the train. Not the train part, but the observation. Higher than ground level, speeding past lives, you get glimpses into little worlds. Sure, it's voyeuristic, but that's part of the charm. You look out through a window much in need of cleaning, and you keep your eyes open.
I passed low-rent apartments where people were hanging laundry out on balcony clotheslines and high-priced homes with a BMW in the drive and a gardener in the yard. I saw welding, towing, and carpentry. A woman pushing triplets in the world's largest stroller and a man riding one bike and holding on to another one that he was either taking home or stealing. Two dogs wrestling in a park, one cat staring out of a condo window, and three kids all wearing sports gear from a different team (Niners, Giants, A's). I saw tech geeks with uppity briefcases, iPod, iPhone, and laptops. I saw an obviously exhausted woman in nurse wear with three shopping bags and no front tooth. I was treated to a 3-year old's screamingly annoying rendition of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and the thrumming beat of the hip-hop-hood behind me whose headphones were so loud I could even understand some of the words. I saw teenagers kiss goodbye with the desperate passion that only teenagers can manage....at the Palo Alto station, no doubt it would be at least 18 hours before they saw each other again and that last kiss has to hold them. And I saw, much to my amusement, how all the guys on the train looked up as the hot girl walked by.
I passed a guy in a wheelchair with a "Homeless Vet" sign and a scruffy mutt at his feet talking to a security guard who was eating an apple. And a huge guy in really skanky dreadlocks who was carrying what looked like a violin. Among my fellow passengers were observed the following items: two tennis rackets; a large sheet of poster board with photos of Hawaii on it; three huge suitcases that belonged to one small woman; a loaf of bread (no bag, no other groceries, just a guy carrying a loaf of bread); a red inflatable reindeer with wheels (I SWEAR I am not making this up!); a plastic lei, several computers, iPods, and cell phones; and a wok.
And all this passed by without me ever leaving my seat. Transit is heaven for someone who loves to people watch.