Gwen Carmen is a cancer survivor and longtime teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District—but some of her best stories come straight off our own local transit. In this episode, Gwen tells a story about taking BART to see one of Aretha Franklin’s final performances at the Oakland Coliseum. On her journey home from the concert with a group of fellow riders, Gwen finds herself in the middle of a crime scene that brings the journey to a halt—but not the end.
You might remember Gwen from the live shows or from Episode 62 of this podcast, in which she told a story about serving sweet, sweet justice to a bus creeper while riding the 24.
Every transit system starts with a dream, and over there in Reddit-land, the catalyst for the dream was the Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme. Reader Kini S. sent over this tip: A super fan of the fast food chain created a Taco Bell transit map on Reddit to visualize what it’d be like if we had a transit system that connected all the Taco Bell locations in the Bay Area.
This map includes the Most Beautiful Taco Bell location in the country in Pacifica just off of the Linda Mar stop, where rumor has it that you can get a beer or a slushy fortified with booze along with your Taco Bell Chalupa or Gordita. Reddit commenters noted the lack of Taco Bell locations in poor, poor Marin, with only three locations before you get up to Petaluma. Though, as one commenter says, just seeing BART up in the North Bay is indeed enough to bring tears to your eyes.
What would you do if you saw someone passed out on BART and you’re not really sure what’s going on? This happened to rider Ginger M., who saw a young man on BART who was not in such good shape. As she considered the possibilities, she saw another passenger approach the man with such compassion and kindness that really made an impression on her.
Here’s Ginger’s story:
While riding on BART in the afternoon to work there was a person so passed out that they were hanging over the end of the seat. There was much blond hair hanging down and food strewn around.
1st thought: Junkie?
2nd thought: Are they dead?
3rd thought: Are they okay; is this a person who has been drugged and assaulted?
4th thought: Should I tell someone?
5th and full thought through this entire thing: Should I do something?
While I was asking myself all sorts of questions, a black man who was sitting behind me moved up to sit behind this person, whom other people had moved away from. He sat for a moment and then spoke to the passed out person who turned out to be a young man in velvet pants.
They talked. Talked in good ways.
We all got off at the same stop together and I watched that wonderful man walk with him to get him to a good place.
I will never forget that act today. One of courage. And one of great compassion. To that man today, I honor you.
A good lesson of compassion on public transit or anywhere. Thanks, Ginger! Got other important news for your fellow riders? Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Our email inbox (email@example.com) is always open!
Five thousand people took an exam to become a BART station agent. Of those people, 100 were chosen to be interviewed. Of those, BART hired 30. One of those 30 is William Cromartie.
Every day, Cromartie encounters 4,000 people, many of whom he greets by handshake or fist bump, as he believes in stepping outside of the station agent booth. “I stay outside. That’s where the people are,” he says.
Local filmmaker Ivan Cash was so inspired by him that he made a short documentary about the station agent. From the filmmaker:
After meeting William on my commute to/from Oakland and witnessing his warmth and friendliness firsthand, I knew I had to make a film about him. I hope his story inspires more people to open up their hearts to strangers. Thank you, William, for inspiring me and countless others!
We know that the people working at our BART and Muni stations have a tough job—some of them have been kind to share their stories onstage at our live shows. BART operator Kelly Beardsley regaled the crowd with drama over the BART intercom, as well as a visceral story about a poop artist on the train. And Muni operator Driver Doug gave us the ultimate skinny with his behind-the-scenes stories. If you have a favorite driver or station agent, write us and give them a shoutout! Our inbox is always open for your stories.
Bay Area creativity and our collective Hamilton craze were fiercely represented in a Post-It note artist’s work on BART.
As seen by @andylie1 on Twitter, someone brought brilliant cultural cachet to the fine station and city of Lafayette with some well-placed Post-It notes on this BART map. For those of you not (yet) in the Hamilton crew, Marquis de Lafayette is a character in the musical portrayed by Daveed Diggs. Here’s the video to said lyrics, and consider this your Broadway earworm of the day.
As if this is not cool enough: Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda full-on quoted the tweet for his million-plus following and gave it a big ole double tap regram on Insta. Dear Post-It artist, I think your whole life has been made.
Thank you to Muni Diaries reader Deirdre O. for spotting this gem!