This memory was brought to the forefront of my mind this weekend as I rode the caltrain into the city.
I had purchased a ten ride ticket earlier that week – however, as I was quite late arriving to the train station, I had to park my car and run onto the train, and had no time to validate it. I decided to find the conductor immediately and lie – tell him or her the validator was broken and that I needed them to validate my ticket instead.
Some people in my situation might have instead waited for the conductor to come to them – however, I had become sick of doing so and having the conductors irritated with me. I decided to avoid confrontation by amending the situation right after boarding.
I crossed through three cars before I found the conductor. As I entered the third car, I heard incomprehensible yelling. It was a little early in the morning for drunkenly disruption, so I was surprised.
When I encountered the conductor, I realized it was not drunken yelling at all. The conductor was talking to a rather tall Caucasian man on the first level, who was loudly tranlating what the conductor said to a Chinese man on the top level.
CONDUCTOR: Tell him that when he gets off the train in San Francisco he should by a Zone 1 to Zone 3 ticket
WHITE MAN: [yelling upwards in Chinese]
**at this point I notice a several good-sized boogers dangling from the White Man’s nose. However, since he is being nice I do not judge him**
CHINESE MAN: [responding in Chinese]
WHITE MAN: He says he will do the honest thing and buy a ticket.
CONDUCTOR: [nods. CHINESE MAN settles back in his seat. To WHITE MAN] You never know who will be able to translate, I was surprised.
WHITE MAN: I do a lot of business in China, but you wouldn’t know by looking at me.
At this point both parties turn to me, as if to say, what the hell do you want, this does not concern you.
ME: [turning to CONDUCTOR] Can you validate my ticket?
The conductor rolls his eyes as if this is the most asinine request he has ever heard, and scribbles the time down on my ticket and rips off the corner.
So I did not avoid conflict but I saw some Chinese yellin… I say it’s a fair trade.