Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Conversations With John And A Couple Of Random Musings

So I take the commuter train daily as a part of my commute. When I decided to pick a spot on the train, I had in mind
a) A spot near the door so I could get off the train quick and
b) where I assumed it would not be too crowded
Well I got that but then I also get to interact daily with John our train conductor for those couple of coaches.
He is quite a character and he loves to yap. I think he has been at his job at least for a couple of decades. From his conversations I gather it can be a bit dreary at times and maybe talking to commuters is probably one way of lightening things up. Checking tickets and making sure the door open and close can be a bit of a bore. I am not the type who wants to talk about stuff like say the weather. Also I sometimes like to catch on my zzz’s, something I often seem to do at will, except for John who is not easily dissuaded even if you are leaning back eyes shut and all. He is really a pleasant guy and initially it was a pain to have to talk to him when all I wanted to do was snooze.
So now I just don’t bother to sleep, and John always walks in with his slightly swaying manner, arms a bit akimbo and he is rather tall and thin so it's something to watch. That walk does not change, his shoulders may slump slightly if he is particularly tired of being at work. If he is feeling a little gregarious he may smile. But the entry never changes. Once he walks in, he stops surveys the folks in the compartment thru his glasses. I am usually the first in his line of vision. He sighs slightly, drops his head a bit or shakes it.
Cue for me to ask- “What’s up John?”
John- “It sucks to be at work”
There are other variations too, sometimes he has had a late night (He has to get up at 3 am), or the weather sucks and so on.
So over the months I gathered a few things (not sure I would call them gems) from John.
Don’t have an affair with someone at work, you should not sleep/shag where you work. He apparently made that mistake. He was seeing a commuter and on days off when he had to take the train with his wife, he was scared of bumping in to that woman.

He knows where the good looking women are in his part of the train. There is this supposedly “hot” Latina woman in the next compartment in army uniform. He told me he saw her in mufti and was just blown away. I haven’t been to the other compartment yet. Maybe someday when I have nothing better to do.
He does not let the presence of other women commuters stop him from being colorful.

He had this conversation with a woman commuter sitting across the aisle.
John – Well hello there. You are new on this train!
She – Well I normally take a later train.
John – Well I gotta punch your ticket.
She – Sure.
John - “Punches her ticket”. See I punch differently than other conductors.
John – I have a bigger punch unlike them.
She – Smiles
Now was there some innuendo there?

John - how do you get to work from your stop? (it’s one of those car friendly places not conducive to foot traffic).
Me – I car pool.
John – With a guy?
Me – Nope a female coworker of mine.
John’s response at this point must be predictable eh?
John – Is she hot?
Me- I would not say that, she is nice though (I car pool with 2 co-workers who offered to pick me up along the way, it knocks 30 mins off my commute). She does sometimes need to talk.
John- Can’t you just ask her to stop yapping.
Me- No, I like to listen.
John has subsequently asked me is she still talks. I said she does and that it’s not that big a deal. But I know a lot of stuff about her and her family. She is a nice person though, which all that matters really.
Some discussion about whether we hit the “To Do list” from our honey’s on the weekend.
John- I tell ya, I had this list to go thru that she gave me. I did not finish all those things. I need a longer weekend.
Me – Don’t we all?
John- Did you have a list too?
Me – Nope.
John- Wait your wife is Indian ethnically?
Me – Yep.
John- So is it cultural then (Asian women not being as assertive or being submissive he meant but did not say it).
Me- That maybe true in some places but not that’s a generalization. Not in our home, things don’t work that way.
John – Ok.

John- Man the weekend was great. It was hot, I was out in the boat on the water. It was bliss.
Me – You look it too, all tanned and all.
John- No, I want a skin tone like you.
Me- Gotta get out there more often man.
John- Won’t work for me, I will be burnt if I stay out long and I turn pink.
Me – LOL. (Not sure what to make of this guy who wants a skin tone like me. Hmm brown with blue eyes?).

Make what you will about John, he is an interesting character and can be fun.
There are things about him that are nice and things that make you go “Ack!”. I talk to him almost every time he is on and we have talked about other things too. John is pretty open about himself and how he is as a person. He is always nice to everyone on the train. I assume it makes his mundane job more bearable and probably the commute easier for some of us too.

The line below was in an e-mail -
To reduce the confusion of the server location for xx, I would like to retire these (Detach) from SLLB to SLUT. Please let me know by C.O.B tomorrow if you have questions.

I promise it was just the names in CAPS that got my attention. I could not find out who named the servers to what they are now. All I know is that the new name will be easy to remember (flame me if you will for being un-PC). The person who sent this e-mail also does not use English as his first language so I wonder if that could have been worded better? Was the person who renamed these being tongue-in-cheek about it? I ain’t digging around about this one too much, just thought it was sort of funny.

I had a chance to witness a demo of the Diebold touch screen voting machines. As you may know these machines have been rather infamous for having problems. I was expressing my thoughts about them to a couple of co-workers and for the need to vote and better standard to ensure uniformity in ballots and voting machines. The lack of a paper receipt, closed source software, a lack of transparency, some strange results and poor security have made these machines suspect. This link is for a google search for (diebold voting machine concerns)

While co-worker A agreed, B was like I don’t vote. I said “well then you surely won’t complain about how government affects you will you?”. B said “I never complain”. I said let’s talk in a decade. B laughing “I won’t remember”
I said we’ll see. B is a very nice person, but hello, WTF? Why the heck don’t you vote? You know I don’t care how she votes, I wish she was aware and had a position on what direction this country was going either right or wrong and cared enough to vote. I guess for some people politics only comes home when you life is dramatically altered in some way?
It also brought to mind the conversation I had with the department of elections rep when I was watching the demo. I was frank about my reservations about the Diebold machine and we talked about the need for more people to vote. The demo was at a public place and not a lot of people were stopping by to check out the machine. We wondered about this situation where people in Iraq voted under the threat of terror and bombings (regardless of what you think of the war) while here in America so many people just friggin don’t care enough to vote. This is not a perfect democracy by any means but what excuse do people have for not voting? It’s a travesty that poor folks and minorities in some places have had to wait in line for hours, but that is not the case everywhere. Our system may be broken but it won’t be fixed until people show they have a stake by participating in the process.

I also had some thoughts about the whole arranged marriage thing. For some reason it brought to mind a couple of other incidents that had escaped me, but I am not subjecting you to a very long post today. I did sort of write it up and it’s a tad rambling and rather long, maybe another day.


Enyur said...

All the Johns I know are yappy lol! (Okay, that's just a stereotype now, but it's true!)

Hmmm...arrange marriages..I look forward to reading that post of yours! :o)

Aditi said...

I am very against ppl who dont vote. You have got to vote. got to got to vote. One of my close friends never votes and she doesnt care. She says it wont make a difference one way or the other. What do you do with that thinking?
I agree, people who dont vote have no right to complain about the government cuz they didnt do their bit.

Ash said...

Enjoyed reading about John...

And as for arranged marriages, i am SO completely against them....i feel it should be banned !!!
It doesnt work in this day and age.

Keshi said...

John is a typical train-stalker huh lol! harmless ofcourse.

Arranged marriages...hell I have alot to say abt it :)


Mr. J said...

Hot women have a compartment of their own?? Lol.. I guess the train doesn't have a steam engine or something ;)

Mr. J said...

Hey my name's John too.. :D

surajsharma said...

that was a nice read. hehe, wish i knew someone like john, his mannerisms a bit reassuring although i'm not quite sure as to what they reassure to me. BTW, SSLB stands for Symmetric Server Load Balancing (that i knew) and a quick check through the internet tells me that SLUT means either (a) Sexually Liberated Urban Teen or (b) Sport Luxury Utility Truck so take your pick :). and C.O.B has to mean Crusty Old Bastard if nothing else, you know how these old servers are...yeah, and i don't have much regard for people who don't vote and then complain..but have you heard the recent news that NRI's are to get voting rights here soon! Yay!

Dadoji said...

COB/COP = Close Of Business/Play

I will wait for your love/arranged marriage post and not clutter up this post but let me just say to ash that arranged marriages are not is the way they are conducted that matters.

I was reminded of this conductor on Caltrain that I used to take to SFO sometimes while the Saint used to take it from SFO to Palo Alto for a few months. This guy had a wonderful way of talking to people, having fun and announcing the next stop. Example:

Ladies and Gentlemen, the next stop is *dramatic pause* Saaaaaaan Annnnntoniooooooooooo. If you forget to wake up, you can always get down at Mountain View. Don't forget to invite me if you are planning a dinner at Amarin Thai.

karmic_jay said...

lol @enyur. I hope to have that post up in a day or two.

@adit1.. I feel like banging my head on a desk after I hear some of these folks.

@ash. Personally am against them too, but people still go thru the process.

@Keshi. Train stalker? Now that is an interesting term :)You can have your say once I put the post up. :)

lol@me. Well John would know that. The only 2 he talked about were in my compartment and the next.Hey John. you like the John ont he train? :)

@Suraj, Thaks for stopping by. Ye, John is kind of a people person but with a few rough edges. As for SSLB, I had read that somewhere. The e-mail was from a diff group and so did not pay attention.
lol@ explanation of slut.
I did not know about voting rights for NRI, since I am not an Indian citizen, so am not following it.

@Dadoji.I hope to have that post up maybe in a day or two. The issue has been discussed ad nauseum, but might as well put in my 2 cents.The conductors can be funny, each with their won style. :)

The Bhandari's said...

Nice reading about John...
Me too feel too bad about the ppl who do not vote

hmm Arrange Marriage V/S love marriage, looking forward for such post

PS: Mine is a love
Made Arranged :P

surajsharma said...

u must have heard of the Pravasi Bharatiya brouhaha, you know, with the whole dual citizenship thing...does it not seem appealing to you?

karmic_jay said...

@Suraj. No, it does not. I don't follow stuff in India closely anymore.:)

karmic_jay said...

@Preeti good for ya girl :) Am no fan of arranged marraiges.

surajsharma said...

oh, okay, got it...

surajsharma said...

oh, okay, got it...

chandni said...

"John" suspiciously reminds me of a conductor on the North east corridor I met and chatted up with on the way to jersey once...

nice post :)

M (tread softly upon) said...

You are a master of suspense. You know like they show you a trailer and make you wait for the real thing. Now I can't wait to read the post on arranged marriages :)

karmic_jay said...

@chandni.. I have to check if he ever worked on Amtrak. :) Thanks

M. You are too generous. Now I am afraid I may have raised too many expectations, with my promise of a post.

Manic Street Preacher said...

wow. john is intersting!!!
arranged marriages...oh hell be careful when ya post it...i know u will be...cuz nowadays love marriages aint fool proof either...but it is MARRIAGE PER SE..tht raises questions ARRANGED or not![:D]
jus dropped by...great blog u have in here....

karmic_jay said...

Manic, Thanks for stopping by. My post is mostly about arranged marraiges. I agree marraige by itself is a whole anoher topic as are non-arranged marraiges.

Shitrint said...

this john certainly is a very fun character...
we hav got our own johns in the sabziwala bhaiyyas, the watchmans, the pandus(police constables) and a lot more...
some are shy of course. i once asked the male constable patrolling the ladies train compartment late at night abt his rifle and whether it was real and he knew how to shoot. and whether he wud really shoot if something went wrong...
the guy seemed pretty embarrassed. looked like nobody asked him any questions or casually spoke to him...
it was fun tho!

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