End of the Line

I needed to be reminded that Friday was Veteran’s Day. Chalk it up to an aging brain or what have you, but it came as a complete surprise when the scrum moderator mentioned it during our daily stand-up on Thursday. Since it’s a holiday for the client but not my employers, I had to edit my timesheet and mark it as PTO.

You’d think that of all the sort-of holidays on the calendar, I would remember this one. Not only is it the birthday of one of my favorite writers and the day my second favorite world war ended, it was also the day my father died, as well as his partner Karen. She left this world on 11-11-11, 11 years after he did. This past Friday marked the eleventh anniversary of her death. I don’t put much stock in numerology, but you have to admit that’s a lot of elevens.

I decided to do something with my day off, not necessarily anything constructive, just something to set it apart from any other day. In 2020, BART had extended service into northern San Jose. After spending most of the morning farting around at home, I walked to the 24th Street Mission station and got on a train.

I had gone on a similar adventure after BART opened its Antioch station. That trip took out to where there was a huge parking lot and not a lot else. A quick look on Google Maps showed that the Berryessa / North San Jose station wasn’t going to be much more exciting.

The thing was that any adventure, even a lame one, would be a welcome diversion. COVID had turned the people of my city into a galaxy of collapsed stars. They were all still here, but invisible and you did not want to get too close to any of them. Masking up to go to Safeway gave way to having our groceries delivered, just like our booze, pizza, Taco Bell, and pretty much everything else.

The sedentary existence continued even we were vaccinated. We found minimal contact with the outside world to our liking. Drinking at home was preferable to going to a bar. DoorDash empowered to stuff our faces with yummy food while watching “South Park” reruns. Street crime is somebody else’s problem when you stay inside. For all intents and purposes, the stars around us remained collapsed.

The drawback to an immobile lifestyle is that it is really unhealthy. I gained a lot of weight and increased cholesterol turned my blood into heart-attack gravy. To avoid early death, I started a daily exercise routine consisting of a half hour on a stationary bike and a short walk up and down Valencia Street. This put me in a slightly healthier rut.

Given enough time living like this, it did not matter how much I was nurturing my inner hermit. I needed to get away. I didn’t have to go far or be away for very long, I just needed to feast my eyes on something other than my tiny world.

I also like being on a train. Always have. It gives me a chance to watch the world go by without being part of it. Let me tell you. When you’re gazing at the soulless expanse of tract homes that is Hayward, CA, you want some aesthetic distance.

The entire trip took a little over an hour and the station unsurprisingly looked just like it did on Google Maps. There was a lot of parking, nearby residential area, and stops for connecting bus lines. No VTA light rail though. You had to hop off at the previous station in Milpitas to get on one of those. The Milpitas stop also has a mall sort of nearby.

The Berryessa station had a flea market that was closed. If I had come on another day, it might be worth checking out. A large colorful sign advertising a “Fun Zone” looked promising from behind the barbed wire. When I walked further afield, I saw a Dunkin’ Donuts and a Techie-friendly taqueria, but nothing more exciting than that.

I don’t know what I was expecting. The station wasn’t going to have anything like a bar or a newsstand stocked with stroke mags. Not in this day and age. All that source of joy went the way of the ashtrays.

I may take the train down that way again, but it won’t be anytime soon. Another BART extension would do the trick. I’m a sucker for a quest.