from WSJ

I met a BART Angel

Talking on the phone in public places is a particular faux pas of modern life. The talker is so often totally oblivious and doesn’t realize that the people around her can hear everything she’s saying.

In New York City, there’s no service on the subway, but the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit System) actually has pretty good cell phone reception, save for a few seconds between Civic Center and 16th Street.

Yes, I’m guilty of talking on my phone on the BART.

I’m a transition-time talker. I reach for my phone to call someone (usually my mom) whenever I’m going somewhere. It’s a habit ingrained in me since the days of walking to class on a big college campus.

But on this fateful day I wasn’t just telling my mom about what I was going to cook for dinner — I was really upset about things at work and I was in tears. Voluptuous, flowing tears.

I called her when I was waiting on the platform at the Kearny station and continued to talk/sob as I hopped on the Daly City bound train.

I never sit on BART (unless I’m coming home from Oakland after a concert at The Fox Theater) so I’m standing by the big map and crying on the phone. If I had been able to observe myself as a third party, I would have thought I was the most pathetic girl ever.

Little did I know someone was observing me. Somewhere between Powell and Civic Center, a youngish woman comes over to me and whispers, “You’re okay. It’s going to be okay.”

I smile embarrassedly, finish up my phone call, and wipe my eyes. I’m sure they’re puffy and that my mascara is smeared. Cute, real cute.

The woman is still standing there looking at me. “Just take a deep breath before you get to go where you’re going. You’re fine. Especially if it’s about work….” she kept talking and I was totally mesmerized.

On a train where people don’t even look at each other, she’s gone out of her way to try to console me.

“How’d you get to be so wise?” I asked her, already feeling better and remembering that there is real kindness in this world.

“I grew up listening to stories from my grandma,” she said, “And also, I hate to mess up or make mistakes.”

She’s still talking and I want to soak up every word, but the train is approaching my stop.

“I have to get off here,” I say. “Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.”

“Have a great rest of your day,” she says with sincerity I could feel run through my veins.

And that’s it. I walked off the train and up the stairs in a daze. I had been touched by a BART angel.

I can’t promise that I’ll never talk on the phone in a contained public space again, but I do hope to someday be someone else’s BART angel.