It's true that you never know what you will see, smell, or hear once you step onto a BART train. But what you do know is that, more often than not, those sights, sounds, and -- especially -- scents originate from your eclectic fellow passengers.
But that all changed last night when I hopped a Millbrae-bound BART train during rush hour, and was greeted by the train operator's macabre soliloquy.
The train arrived at the Montgomery Street station, and as more and more people pushed their way onboard, two things became apparent: 1. There was no room left, and; 2. Commuters forcing their way onto the train didn't care that there was no room left. That's when the operator got on the loudspeaker and warned everyone to step back, the doors would be closing in "5, 4, 3, 2, 1."
Maybe some people stepped back, but not nearly enough -- and not behind the yellow line on the BART platform.
At that point, the BART operator returned to the loudspeaker and managed to get everyone's attention when he explained in a detached tone exactly what would happen if they didn't step behind the yellow line on the platform.
He said something along the lines of, you'll end up "underneath the train" and then they'll have to come "scoop you up" and take you to wherever it is you need to go. He continued explaining that this scenario will do nothing but "keep the rest of us waiting" -- perhaps for hours.
That's a long time to think about being scooped up off the tracks.
Passengers seemed conflicted by this tough-love approach to keeping commuters from falling off the platform: The train car was filled, simultaneously, with amused chuckles and disbelieving grunts.
The train grew silent again, and, as we made our way to Powell Street, I wondered if others aboard were thinking the same thing I was: Well, there's one BART operator who needs a vacation.