Fun And Embarrassment With Names And The Alphabet

The last time I was in New York City, I brought home a MetroCard-themed mouse pad from the Transit Museum Store at Grand Central Terminal.

I’ve been to New York only three times, and the most recent visit was in 2012.  Someone with that little exposure to Manhattan and the Outer Boroughs can’t speak with authority on all things NYC, but here’s one thing which should be emphasized before the subject changes too much:

Grand Central Terminal is the correct name for the transit hub mentioned in the first paragraph.  Grand Central Station is the post office.  I have that information on good authority, so please don’t try to challenge me on it.  If you’d like to learn the fascinating history behind one of the most beautiful buildings on earth, go to this site:

Now to acronyms.  Or initials.  Whatever.  There’s plenty to learn, and it involves more than the masochist’s thrill of riding the subway during commute hours.

After nearly four years of using my MetroCard mouse pad, this morning I noticed something which was there all along but kept a low profile: the service mark, denoted by the uppercase letters SM. It’s right at the end of the MetroCard print logo.

I was sure those rude looking letters were similar to a trademark, but had to think for a few minutes before deciding on a safe search term to type on the Google page.  When you’re in a vanilla mood, the utmost caution is vital.  Here’s what I found on Wikipedia, the flexible, changes-every-minute-according-to-any-registered-user’s-whim online reference for all of us:

I’ve misplaced the MetroCard I brought home in 2012, but a friend has since given me his.  Instead of SM, it has the simple R with a circle around it.  It’s dot-sized, but if you use a strong enough magnifying glass you can see it.

Moving forward to greater things…

When I lived in Oakland (California), I often saw an odd-looking commute bus on the Bay Bridge when returning home from San Francisco.  The agency operating the bus was called Fairfield Area Rapid Transit.  On the back of the bus, a sign read, GAS PAINS? F.A.R.T. TO SAN FRANCISCO.  The front destination sign said F.A.R.T. EXPRESS.

It must have worked for someone because the bus always had passengers.  Maybe the system gained a few more passengers after Herb Caen mentioned it in his morning newspaper column.  If nothing else, Caen must have prompted his readers to choke on their Cocoa Krispies.

Love from your loyal friend in a F.U.B.A.R. world,


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