From Civic Center on a Friday

1 Feb 2013

The platform at Civic Center always has a more varied populace than Embarcadero or Montgomery or even Powell, with fewer business people and shoppers, more non-profit staffers and government workers along with anyone availing themselves of the city resources and offices. On a Friday night the station is livelier than usual and the trains more crowded, often hotter and stuffier, with an additional mix of people for whom BART is not a regular part of their routines. Sometimes you can smell alcohol already by six or seven, and not the miasmatic booze aroma of someone who's been steeping in it for years or of a homeless man shuffling through the car. At the end of a long week, girls teeter uncertainly in high heels and packs of 20-somethings jostle and crowd tipsily before you've even had a chance to get more than three blocks from the office.

Waiting on the crowded platform for the train, there are two uniformed BART police down near the far elevator. The intercom switches on and a voice rings out, sounding almost amused: "A woman, early twenties, wearing a bright, bright yellow jacket, may have left through the 8th and Market exit [this part is lost]. Again, wearing a bright, bright yellow jacket in her early twenties, you can't miss it, it's an EYE SEARING jacket". People on the platform are looking around and smiling.

There are two young men sitting together on the round bench. One is black and what you might describe as thick. He wears red slim trousers, black and white shoes that are similar to saddle shoes, and red white and blue striped socks. A blue white and red gingham shirt, a dark bow tie, a grey-ish buttoned fisherman's style cardigan, a blazer with a gold button on the lapel, and a bright pocket square.

There are two women, one older and one younger in flowing skirts, long hair. The younger wears more eye shadow than one might assume she would given the layered flowy attire. A young skinny gawky white man stands below the information signs and yells to his friend, gesticulating about how stupid and pointless the signs are, how useless. He appears awkward in his manner, something about him seems forced as he glances around to see if people are watching and he seems nervous yet does not stop. Instead his voice grows and it's as if he is performing.

On the train, a pretty young woman with slender fingers puts lotion on her hands. It smells so fruity and sickly sweet it is overpowering in the hot airless car, almost nauseating.