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May 11, 2006

My Life, as Absurdist Theatre

To say I am an individual who relies heavily on the sanctitude of logic would perhaps be an understatement. To acknowledge that much of the world is more than slightly irrational and that most people more often than not illogical would perhaps be a bit litotic. To conclude that this disparity is the primary cause of my cynicism would perhaps be redundant. Even so, every once in a while, one will encounter something so maddeningly nonsensical, so downright illogical, so completely ridiculous, that one can't help but wonder if he or she isn't the subject of a cruel Absurdist drama. Take MUNI for example.

Since last writing about this subject, my sentiments towards this hopelessly inept system have gone from frustration and barely contained rage to complete and utter disbelief. No system can be this ridiculously inefficient, even when considering that it's a government agency. It's just not possible.

Brandon recently coined the MUNI suck-ass factor1, a multiplier that increases with each train that passes you in the opposite direction. At stations on the KLM lines, this hovers around 2.5 for me; on the N-Judah line, it's more like 7.

All joking aside, what the fuck! It seems painfully obvious to me that since most people work downtown (hence, downtown, idiots!), more trains should run into downtown in the mornings, right? By the same logic, more people probably live NOT in downtown, so more trains should run out of downtown in the evenings, right? So, then, why the hell are there always 7 trains going to Ocean Beach in the mornings and a train coming into Embarcadero every 2 seconds in the evening?! Seriously, is the person scheduling these trains on crack?! Listen you stupid asshole: no one is going to Ocean Beach at 7am. NO ONE.

Equally absurd, of course, is the distribution of trains, especially in the evening. I don't know this for certain, but I think it's a fair bet that the N-Judah line services a population that is equal, if not greater, than some of the other lines (i.e., J-Church -- sorry Audrey). Furthermore, three lines service the most popular evening destinations on the Market St. corridor (Church St. and Castro St.) whereas only one line (the N-Judah) addresses Cole Valley, the Haight, Buena Vista, and the Sunset. So, why are there always only 2 N-Judah trains an hour in the evenings (especially at rush hour!) and countless J-Church trains?! Seriously, don't these idiots believe in surveying traffic?! How can this be the reality? It's got to be a sick joke.

And then, there's the whole Market St. corridor back log during rush hour, forcing trains to idle for several minutes before every stop. This is a solved problem, people! Trains have been around for a hundred years! Scheduling algorithms have been too! Trains run efficiently given the same constraints -- and even more -- in Tokyo, London, New York, hell, everywhere but San Francisco it seems. Why can't someone come up with a timing schedule that allows trains to run unfettered in the Market St. corridor?! Is this NP-Complete or what!? I doubt it.

The thing that pisses me off the most though -- more than the aforementioned absurdities -- is the escalator situation at Embarcadero. In the morning, the escalator to Drumm St. is always running down; in the evening, it is always running up. WHAT!? Are you kidding me? Seriously. What. The. Fuck.

Embarcadero Station, and especially the Drumm St. exit, is surrounded by office buildings (well, and the Hyatt, but that's irrelevant, so shut up!). People come out of Embarcadero in the morning and go into it in the evening. No one, or an irrelevant few, do the opposite. So, why the hell do the escalators run in the opposite direction of traffic, forcing me to endure the unacceptably slow descent of old and/or idiotic people down the adjacent stairs. It's a miracle I haven't pushed all these slow morons down the stairs yet (believe me, I've been pretty close on some days).

Unlike the other problems, this one cannot be chalked up to inefficiency or incompetence. It's entirely too insidious for that -- no one could have legitimately set up this system. No one is that stupid. No one! Thus, the hypothesis that my life (and that of all Embarcadero Station passengers) is really the subject of a wicked Absurdist drama purported by some sado-nihilistic bastard in the MUNI office...

... either that, or Kaiser has taken those THRIVE advertisements too far! I'm screaming, but it ain't for green beans!

1 Update 2006/05/17: Credit where credit is due. Cody originally coined the MUNI Suck factor, which was later expanded to MUNI suck-ass factor by Brandon.


It brings joy to my heart to see the Muni suck ass factor slowly seeding out into the world. Both of us haven't even delved into the wretched directions the trip plannner provides.

Eg: I want to come home from Mission Cliffs (19th/Harrison). It told me to take some bus to Van Ness/Market and then take the MUNI shuttle to Castro since the underground isn't running. WTF? The 33 stops right next to our place and is 4 blocks up at 18th/Mission. WTF?? X 2.

Don't trip, I coined the MUNI suck factor months before Brandon moved to SF. Brandon added the "ass", as he always does.

Duly noted. I wasn't aware of the history of the MUNI suck-ass factor.

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