I bowled along as usual trying to catch my commuter train. My bag was flung behind me with a velocity that can knock rhinos off their feet, my car beeped hurriedly as I locked it and I charged as fast as the recently rain-soaked streets would allow me to. Why I don’t leave just 2 minutes earlier is a lingering soul-searching question. There are days when there is a game and the trains are crowded, but these are mostly during the evening commute, not mornings. But this morning was different. People were milling around the station first thing in the morning. All of them were dressed in Orange and Black, like they belonged to some sort of Halloween fraternity. Closer observation, however, revealed that they were devoted followers of the SF Giants team and that team, having won the game, was having a victory parade that day to which all the enthusiastic fans were going. I could have checked the news before leaving I suppose, but that would have made me charge for the next train not this one.
I squeezed myself onto the train, and hoped for the best. What I was not ready for, was for folks to glare at me just because I was not dressed in Orange & Black. I was wearing a pretty royal blue and black skirt and I admit I could have been more warmly dressed for it was a rainy sort of day. (I could also have checked the weather before starting. ) But I still did not think that people would be so worried about my feeling cold. I mean, their concern was touching and a trifle disconcerting. Freedom of dress and all that, what? (I suppose that is not a fundamental freedom, but it felt like it was worth tacking one on, on that long train ride) There was a guy who looked at me and pointedly yelled, “Giants Rule!” to great back-thumping and cheer. I smiled ruefully and looked down avoiding all eye-contact. (Avoiding eye contact is another art you master over the years of traveling with a wide variety of co-passengers : some dotty, some dodgy, some rude, some out to make an ass of you, but mostly ordinary folk like myself that no one wants to bother with.)
I was glad to get off at my station, only to be met with more stares as I walked down the crowded streets towards my office. The rain was coming down pretty heavily and I was enjoying the raindrops and trying to navigate the crowds. The parade was to pass through the main street artery of the city and people were spilling out of liquor stores and doughnut shops. The combination of excess sugar and liquor on a rainy morning was a bit too much to contemplate. I was glad to enter my office and look down safely on the crowds from the window. That was atmosphere enough for me. I checked the news on arrival and found that I had missed a triple hat draw: It was the SF giants parade, Halloween and Critical Mass (which means all cyclists take to the streets and blow traffic flows to the wind from their rooftops). Combine all three events together to imagine the traffic snarls and train crowds.
Various reports jostled at me : The local school authorities had requested folks to attend school that day instead of the Giants Parade. Another report said that it was to be an alcohol-free day. I grinned and sneaked a peek at the street below. It was 9:00 in the morning and the liquor store across the street looked like a very busy place! A number of children, evidently of school-age had not listened to the school authorities pleas and were looking happy and excited too. The sea of Orange & Black was like watching a large, mutating cloud. Strangely exciting and slightly unnerving.
It was only when I touched upon the topic of dress with a colleague that he enlightened me on the stares. Apparently, I was dressed in the colors of the opposing team that the Giants had battled so valiantly to win against. As if the weather gods were not doing it enough, I had rained on their parade. The staunch supporters of the Orange & Black Giants team, who braved the colds and rain, probably thought it was excessively rude of me to flaunt the opposing teams colors on their faces. Sigh. I can only thank my stars that people were nice enough to not do anything more than glare at me. Still, it seemed prudent to cover up with a jacket on the ride back home! One can never be sure of the effects of a day full of alcohol, rain and sugar, can we?