I was raised riding BART. My father, Alvaro Mauricio Solorzano, landed a job with Bay Area Rapid Transit when I was a small child in the late '70s and worked there until his death in 1997.
My father left his home in Nicaragua as a teen, arriving in San Francisco in the early '60s. After serving in Vietnam he returned to Managua to regroup, where he met my mother. In 1977 they returned to the Bay Area for good. I was three years old.
In those early years we bounced around, with stops in the Mission, Daly City and Pacifica. When my father got his job with BART, it brought stability. We purchased a home in the East Bay suburb of Pittsburg, which was then bisected by a two-lane highway and surrounded by cow pastures. For my father, it was the American Dream.
Not long after my parents purchased their home, tensions between BART management and employees resulted in a three-month strike. I remember my father at the dinner table telling us, his small children, that we should never cross a picket line.
He often worked holidays and took extra shifts -- my mother would tease him because he was always in uniform, "just in case" BART called. When I visited him at work with my older sister and little brother, he'd introduce us to his friends and let us ride in the front of the train. We'd honk the horn as the train drove through the Transbay tube. To us, Papi was not a train operator -- he owned BART.