It’s 9am on the VTA light rail, prime time for commuters. The light rail is filled, just slightly musky from all the tired, but anxious people who are afraid to miss their stop.
We’re at the Great Mall/Main Street stop. An Indian lady in professional work attire is facetiming her husband, who is across the country. He’s getting ready for bed while she’s getting ready to go to work. A white man in a button up and jeans clutches onto his satchel as he struggles to stay awake. A young Chinese lady in slacks and a blouse is texting someone. Clipped on her blouse is a Paypal ID card. The light rail is filled with people heading to work at their tech careers in Cisco, Canon, Sandisk, you name it.
We get to the Tasman stop and the work commuters all get off. What’s left is everyone else. There are some college kids and children scattered on the rail. The college kids all have one look on their face, and it’s exhaustion from lack of sleep. The children are all 2-6 years old, being taken by their stay at home mothers to daycare or school. Every once in a while they let out a squeal, only to be hushed by their mothers.
Gish Stop. A rugged man with sunken eyes gets on. He’s at the brink of tears. With him is a suitcase attached to the handle is a makeshift sign.
“Homeless and Starving, Please Need Money for Food”
One hand squeezes the handle of his suitcase to stop it from sliding and in the other opens a small bible which he begins to read.
Japantown/Ayer Stop. A VTA officer boards the light rail. She begins to check everyones boarding passes and approaches the homeless man. He puts his bible away and frantically digs in his pockets, pulling out a bunch of little boarding passes slips, probably from previous trips. She nods and walks away. Before getting off at the next stop, the officer pulls a granola bar out of her pocket and gives it to him. He holds back tears as he thanks her, then carefully puts the granola bar in his suitcase to save for later.
This is a peek into life in the Silicon Valley.