I’m on BART right now, sitting in the quad seats (two two-person benches facing each other). Across from me is a twentysomething couple. Though they be a heterosexual couple, they look like the same person: pimples, glasses, an’ all.
The girl is reading off an iPad Mini wrapped in some homemade, handsewn-looking tablet sleeve. (The corners don’t look well-done enough to be anything an Etsy buyer would legitimately pay for.) She’s sharing the screen with her beau, which is sweet, right? Wrong.
She is reading out loud, to her beau, the very illuminated text that she is angling toward his eyes. SHE IS READING OUT LOUD TO HIM ON BART. It is not an excerpt that she reads. It is pages and pages of stuff, stuff involving dialogue that she delivers with the same voice for every character. A nasally voice. A nasally, tinny voice whose shrill Ts and Ss slice through the screeches of the grating underwater tunnel like scrapes of metal.
She reads for him, but everyone can hear the words – that no one has any context for – BECAUSE SHE IS READING OUT LOUD ON BART.
At least with live conversations on public transportation, you can follow the interactions, making unavoidable eavesdropping natural and unobtrusive. This shitty hipster exercising her shitty oratory skills is subjecting the entire car to shitty writing with her shitty reading voice AND NO ONE KNOWS WHAT SHE’S TALKING ABOUT. There is not a thread to unravel, not a bread crumb trail to track.
If loud phone talkers deserve stink eye on the street, monologuing in public is grounds for disturbing the peace. If you can’t amplify music on BART, don’t show off how you can’t keep “Morton” separate from “Martin.” If you can’t exercise library voices in a crowd, the train is not a replacement for high school Drama Club.
People in the streets just talking to no one are dubbed “crazy” and avoided because they have mental issues. You? You with your means to hold an iPad Mini, your Timbuktu bag, your access to expensive Bay Area transit. What’s your excuse? You have none. You simply have no respect for your fellow riders just trying to get from Point A to Point B reliably and peacefully.
I took a photo of you two because I was there and so was my camera phone. I considered posting it as a self-satisfying move of public shaming. But I didn’t. Do you know why? BECAUSE I DON’T LIKE SUBJECTING COMPLETE STRANGERS INTO BECOMING PARTICIPANT-VICTIMS OF UNCOMFORTABLE SITUATIONS WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT. Because I’m not an asshole. Because I ride BART every day and I read my material to myself. Because I have a solid sense of my own place in the world, and I know no one else gives a damn what I’m reading.
Maybe these things are lost on younger generations, but Not Being That Asshole is pretty much the First Commandment in Urban Living.
“Morton talks forever!” she exclaimed, to which I wanted to retort: “SO DOES YOUR FUCKING FACE.”
If reading out loud on BART is your foreplay, please do us all a favor and board yourself into the last car next time. That final car is pretty much a safe haven for elicit activities. Has been for years. I’m pretty sure the guys in the Public Wanking subculture would love to hear a little Tolkien now and again.