J-Church Newbies


Ileana at Bored is the New Busy sent over a diary on the J during the Chinese New Year Parade earlier in the year:

I’m on the outbound J, my second favorite train because it comes second closest to my house. I got on at Powell St. station along with a pile of others leaving the Chinese New Year Parade. The crush of bodies boarding the double-time procession of train cars heading anywhere-but-here is unusually dense and unusually overwhelming. We all feel it. We take shallow breaths, inching closer to the edge of the platform, filling one car after another.

Approaching: Outbound K, followed by 2-carNN, followed by one-car J.

The doors on the K open, no one gets off; no one can get on; the doors close. We wait, hope that the NN has room.

A woman in hospital-issue slipper socks squeezes through with the aid of a walker, mumbling, “Why do I bother? What’s the point? Why don’t you all go back to goddamn China? We don’t need your goddamn parade! It’s like I’m not even a citizen in my own country! I can’t even get on my own goddamn train because of you people. You go back to China. You go back to China, all of you! Taking away my rights as a citizen.”

The J’s doors open; those who can, get on; the doors struggle to close against the prying hands of desperate travelers. Three girls in leggings and jewel-toned tunics start to giggle. “I mean, it’s not like she owns the train!” The train pauses apologetically at the two remaining tunnel stops, opening its doors to show the standing commuters that it can’t accommodate them. As we zip away from the Van Ness station and swerve at the track split the driver announces, “Right side steps going down. Right side steps: going down.”

I glide down on my 2nd step perch and the three giggling girls stare at me with wide eyes. One gasps, “Oh my god, what jus happened?” The others giggle.

I explain, “The steps go up when you’re in the tunnel and come down when you come out so you can step down to ground level.”

“Oh my god! Can you tell we’re new?”

“Oh, well if that impresses you, wait ‘til the first time you see someone vomit on the bus!” This is met with a chorus of laughter and nodding that lets me know I’m finally home.

“No shit! Are you serious?”

Another chorus of nodding.

“Enjoy the city, ladies.”



Bored Is The New Busy also has a fiction short story inspired by the 38-Geary. Check it out.

Photo by Flickr user brainchildvn.

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