The Menlo Roundtable

The Train of Conformity

The Diridon train station bookends the 77-mile stretch of railroad between San Francisco and San Jose.

The station sits near downtown San Jose but far enough away to strike arriving commuters with a feeling of desolation. The parking lot was designed to fit almost four times as many cars as there ever are on the property, so the barren stretches of dried blacktop end up becoming an RV park for San Jose’s less fortunate. The lone building that I refer to as “the station,” which stands wrapped in an uninviting brick exterior, successfully provides a visual midpoint between a 1950’s schoolhouse and a prison. Upon arrival at the station passengers soon discover that the station’s similarities to a prison extend beyond just the visual.

Photo: Michael Vi / Alamy Stock Photo