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April 23, 2005

Travel Tales #2: Check the seat first

Filed under: — brendan @ 04:47 IST

Pulling into Tara Street station on the DART, our full train was about to give back half of its passengers. I saw my opportunity: at the end of the car the seats were empty! I wasn’t sure if they’d been taken when I boarded at Connolly Street, but they sure looked free now. I got up from my seat in the middle of the train car and went over to those seats just as folks finished leaving and others came on board.

As I turned to sit down, I noticed the LED display up on the wall and how it looked a little weird. Normally it’s either blank (more often than not), or it is doing its job of naming the train’s destination and our next stop. Added as a feature of the “new” DART trains, this attempt to inform is only working perhaps half the time. Today was a new twist on its problems—it said only one word: FUNCION. Not only is there a bug in its software that makes it fail on a regular basis, this time it’s crashing with a misspelled word as its only message. Hmm. (Update: No, no, no, had I just tried to google it I would’ve quickly found funciĆ³n to be a Spanish version of “function”. My friend Cyril pointed out my silliness. Boy do I feel foolish.)

I sat down, my brain trying to figure out what makes it have a funcion failure. At the same instant, my nose got a whiff of something foul. I was in the seat for only a few seconds before I identified the smell—and realized that the bottom of my pants were suddenly damp. Someone had pissed liberally over all four seats, mine included.

I jumped back up only after I knew some of this horrid stuff would be on me until I got home. I went right back to my previous seat before those boarding the train claimed it. (This all sounds really territorial, doesn’t it? If we were dogs it’d make sense that someone marked their spot back there.) Hoping those around me didn’t think I actually wet my pants, I started to read my book and let its story accelerate the train, bringing me home that much faster.

We arrived at my station and I glanced at the corner seats as I got off the train. Two people were sitting there. This was their alternative to standing up in the train for another half hour or more, I guess. A man and a woman, each reading a newspaper, sat with no real expressions and no hint of the secret the were sharing.

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