On this one day when I finally managed to escape the office by 6, the BART station was closed. A sea of commuters hovered around the entrance to BART, with some walking down to check out the fully shut steel gate and then returning upstairs. “The BART station is closed,” I heard somebody say. My New Yorker instinct kicked in and I started walking.
Why would you stand there, anyway? Pray for the service to resume like the Indians danced for rain? Or talk to other equally clueless passerbys to get some insights? The New York-trained commuters are so used to seeing service disruptions that we’d turn around and start heading toward the next optimal means of transportation before we even think of complaining. That’s what I did. Oh, except that I was so new to San Francisco that I had no clue what other means of transportation there were. I walked along the one and only line of BART in the direction of home.
I realized that something was up. First there was a single file of about 20 armored and armed cops marching on Market Street. Then there were some police motorcycles, and a whole bus that said “police service”. Then I came across three guys wearing the kind of creepy clown masks that you typically see bank robbers with machine guns wear in the movies. They had a protest sign, but I was too far to read it.
So I Googled the news. Apparently there was a big protest going on that forced BART to shut down all of its stations in downtown San Francisco. And I was walking toward the center of it. Hmm. Alright. I stopped, and considered going all the way back to the office. Then the station near me miraculously opened one entrance, so I got in, jumped on a train, and got home. Nobody was on the platforms of the next few stations so I assumed they remained closed. The one by my office also remained closed for at least 30 more minutes, because BART kept announcing it. Guess I was lucky.
And what was the protest about? Let me attempt to summarize:
(1) cop shot a homeless man with criminal records who was attacking people with a knife
(2) people protested (1) in BART stations, organizing disruptive and dangerous stunts via cell phone
(3) BART cut off cell phone service in its stations temporarily to deter (2)
(4) An organized effort led by Anonymous now protested (3)
WHAT THE FUCK? Is my IQ not low enough to understand the logic here? Thousands of hard-working commuters could not go home to their loved ones at the end of the day, because some teenage girl wasn’t able to txt her bff on the BART? Complaining is one thing but making a front page-worthy protest out of this? When was the last time a New Yorker protested not having cell phone service on the Subway?
San Francisco is surely holding strong onto its hippie reputation. And my once-in-a-blue-moon chance to go home early was ruined.