Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Bus Report #953

This morning when I got on the bus and went to sit down, there was an old Muni token lying forgotten on my seat. I haven't seen one of those in a long, long time - are they even still usable? I have a feeling they aren't, and that that's why it was abandoned to its fate.

I scooped it up and slid it into my pocket.

A good luck charm, I thought. Hopefully it will bring me lots of bus luck.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Bus Report #952

NextBus bus predictions have been down for several days, and it makes for hard times planning my commute.
Back in the old days you could sort of predict when the bus was coming based on the schedules printed on the Muni bus stops. I still spent a lot of time standing around waiting, though.

Yesterday evening I had to guess when my bus was coming. I went out to wait around the same time as usual but there was no  one else at the stop. Oh well, I must have mis-timed things. A few minutes later, an almost empty bus pulled up and I got on. I wondered where everyone was. Had they just given up, watching NextBus flip from 1 minute to 10 minutes to 37 minutes?

At McAllister I waited with a handful of other people. NextBus was still offering predictions even though they were all mind-bogglingly incorrect.

5 Fulton in 9 and 59 minutes - which changed to 3 and 10, and then 10 and 79.
5R in 6 and 10 minutes - quickly flipping to 3 and 4 minutes, and then 4 and 27 minutes.

The 5 showed up 5 minutes later, packed incredibly tightly.

This morning I woke up and made my tea, pulled up NextBus to see if it was working again yet. Predictions still down - no buses predicted for my line, at all. The SFMTA Twitter was just as useless, the account apologizing for the outage and claiming to let us know when predictions were back up.

I walked down to the bus stop in the very, very cold darkness, and waited.
The bus was right on time.

Oddly, though, it was just as empty as the bus had been yesterday - I would say less than half as many people as usual.

I hoped the smiley man was able to get to work today, from all the way out by the zoo. I did not see him in the Castro, but wished him luck anyway.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Bus Report #951

Happy New Year, one and all.

I hope you enjoyed a quiet and cozy holiday season.

I wasn't here to tell you Muni stories, as I was in London for vacation - riding their clean, quiet and on time buses and finding my way through the London Underground.

But now I'm back, as I hope you are, too.

This morning was misty and foggy, but unlike yesterday it was not raining hard enough for me to use my umbrella.

I didn't see C. on the corner, but when I was halfway down the block I heard him singing to himself as he walked toward his bus.

At my bus stop I could tell there was a problem. The Axe body spray guy (who, it turns out, is very nice, though very overly cologned) was waiting. I asked him if the bus was late and he nodded, and shrugged, and wished me a happy new year.

Ten minutes later our bus arrived. Driver James smiled and we exchanged "good mornings" and "happy new years" and the bus moved on down the street, in the misty darkness.

We picked up regulars.

The two women who always get on at Hayes, A man with cool boots who gets on at Clayton, the bald bearded man, the Giant Genie. Everyone wrapped in waterproof layers. Everyone armed with umbrellas.

At Castro and 18th, the bank's memorial wall was still covered with George Michael tributes.

The smiley man who gets on at Castro climbed aboard. We greeted each other and he went to sit in the back of the bus.

Another 33 bus approached in the opposite direction and James stopped to talk to the driver. Apparently there had been wires down further down the line earlier in the morning, but they were now fixed.

We rode on.

The windows fogged up so that several people were not sure where we were. They hurried to get out at their stops before they missed them altogether.

The lights at the Dolores Park Cafe were bright and cheery and while I am often tempted to get out the bus and go in for a snack, this morning the pull was even stronger. But I resisted. Some other time.

The Giant Genie got out at Mission and 16th, stooping, as he does, to step down from the bus.

At Potrero the smiley man and I got out, called a "have a good day" to Driver James.
The corner and the cross walk were blocked by a broken down 33 bus. A PG&E truck parked nearby clued me in that there was another electrical problem. Tough for everyone going further than Potrero and 16th.

I crossed the street with the smiley man and we ended up walking all the way to work together. He has worked in the neighborhood for over 20 years, but lives all the way over by the zoo! He told me about a bad commute a few days ago, that took him a whopping three hours to get to work. All I could do was shake my head.

And I thought I had a long (distance-wise) commute!

We chatted and it made the walk go so much faster. He needs a blog name. Something friendly and fun. A name you could hug. Any suggestions?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Bus Report #950

Last night I caught the 22 after work, on my way to meet up with some friends.
The back of the bus was disgusting - it looked as though a bunch of 12 year olds had held a crazy party. The floor was littered with squished chocolate candies, Sour Patch Kid candy with accompanying sweet and sour dust, huge chunks of beef jerky, mashed Junior Mints and those little white popper things that kids get- the ones that come in the tiny cardboard boxes (there were those on the floor, too) that you can throw to make a tiny explosion.
Most of the seats were covered in candy and beef jerky, too.
Everyone looked around and shook their heads. People tried to avoid stepping on the mess but as the bus filled up, it became impossible.
I think I probably still have some of the candy gunk on the bottom of my shoes.

This morning, Clement Street smelled like bacon and the sugary, buttery, bready smells from all our neighborhood bakeries.

I ran in to the shtetl scholar and we chatted a moment, and finally introduced ourselves. He has a name now, so from now on, if we remember, let's call him C. for short.

Later, our friendly driver (the one who looks like Jason), told me his weekend had been less than relaxing. He'd spent it Christmas shopping. I told him I hope he can get some rest on his next days off.

In Potrero I ran in to Jeff, who has a woodshop somewhere on 17th Street. We used to always chat at Peet's but since I rarely go there anymore, now we tend to meet in the middle of 16th Street, or the corner of Potrero, for a quick hug and a catch up.

The walk to work the rest of the way was quiet. Quiet and a little rainy, the only sound my shoes squishing against the wet pavement.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Bus Report #949

Monday morning I got to the bus stop and soon realized, oh horror of horrors, that my Muni pass was at home, in my other jacket.
At least, I hoped it was.
I dug out cash fare, something I can't remember doing in San Francisco in years and years.

When the bus arrived, I got on and said good morning to the driver (the friendly guy who reminds me of Jason), and started shoving my dollars into the fare box.

"I don't think I've ever seen you pay with cash," he said, amused.
"I can't remember the last time I did," I replied.

He handed me a transfer, one that was good until 2:30 PM.

Yesterday I took the 19 downtown after work to run some errands.
The man sitting beside me was so twitchy, it was making me feel twitchy, too.

At Market Street I transferred to a 21 Hayes and was soon at my destination.

Later, heading home on the 38, the windows were steamed up and my seat mate could not figure out where we were. He kept craning his neck to look out our window, the other window, the passengers.
I took off my headphones at one point and said, "We're at Van Ness."
"I can't see anything!" he said, shaking his head. "It's just so dark out and everything."
I pointed to the neon signage at Mel's to explain how I knew where we were.

He got out at the next stop, and a dozen or so guys got on, all of them wearing soccer jerseys from all over the world. Germany, Spain, England, maybe even one from China, I could not be sure. They spoke in a mishmash of differently accented Englishes and a little German.

This morning when my bus arrived, the driver (tall, bearded, be-baseball-capped, bespectacled) smiled and greeted me with a friendly, "Good morning... Rachel."

I'd given him a holiday gift card yesterday (from Peet's!). Apparently, he'd been able to decipher my crazy handwriting and now we were going to be on a first name basis.

"Good morning!" I replied. "What's your name, by the way?"

It was James. I liked the way he said it, drawing the 'ames' part out a little longer than expected.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Bus Report #948

It has been very rainy this week, and windy, the opposite of good Muni weather.
Wet bus seats, dripping umbrellas, the stink of wet clothes and stuffy buses.


The mornings have been even quieter, cozier than usual. I've drowned in layers of wool this week, warm and itchy and heavy. Good.
Clement Street in the early morning dark.
Everything covered in a sheen of water.

The woman who I sometimes chat with at the bus stop waits for her 2 Clement bus. She turns and waves as I pass by.

Tributes to Thomas, our neighborhood homeless man who passed away a few weeks back, still stuck to the side of the Walgreen's. The paper signs looking old, their writing blurs as it washes away.

Down the block, the man who sits and mumbles in front of the doughnut shop greeted me yesterday with a very lucid, "Good morning and happy holidays to you."
I nodded, wished him the same.

Even in the rain, the door that leads up to the wetsuit landing is ajar, the light in the hallway upstairs as intriguing, as inviting as ever.

The sky. Last night, walking to the bus down on Market and Montgomery, I looked up.
It was a grey, brown, and pea soup green night, the fog enveloping the tops of the buildings though I could still read the sign for the Hobart Building towering above me. Near the streetlights the sky was green and yellow.

At the Muni stop by Sutter Street, a woman idled her car so she could dig in to her purse. Behind her, the 38L honked but she was oblivious. The man standing beside me said, "Can you believe her? She's not only not watching what she's doing, but she's in the bus lane!"
"I know," I told him. "Crazy."

This morning the rain had stopped for a moment, but the streets were as damp and slick as they've been all week. I tucked my umbrella into my bag and still have not needed it today.

Halfway down the block I saw the shtetl scholar lean out his front gate and wave to me, and I waved back. I haven't seen him in over a week, so it was nice to see him, or at the very least, his arm, as I walked to catch the bus.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Bus Report #947

I took the 2 Clement home this afternoon from downtown.
Even though I caught it at the last/first stop, there was still a bicycle attached to the front - forgotten, I suppose.

Hours later I was on the same 2 Clement heading back downtown to meet up with friends.
Same silent driver, same bicycle just waiting for its owner to come get it.

A man got on at 6th Ave. and went straight to the back of the bus with his armfuls of stuff.
He spent the rest of his ride throwing books all over the back of the bus, across all of the unoccupied seats. He also opened all of the windows, and then closed some of them only to reopen moments later.
His twitchy nature was making me feel twitchy, too.

Our driver. What can I say? There was something up with him.
He would not answer the woman who asked to be let out near Steiner with her granddaughter.
He would not even acknowledge that the bus stopped there. Luckily, an elderly couple sitting at the front of the bus gave her directions.

At Laguna the 2 Clement turns and runs on Post Street instead of Sutter - or at least, it is supposed to.
Our driver shot through the intersection at Laguna and kept going.

"Hey, man," I said, but then realized the futility of it all. He was not paying attention to anyone.
He drove two blocks down Sutter, much to everyone's confusion.
Then he turned onto (I think, it was dark) Gough and then flipped back to Post.

By the time we got to my stop he had completely disengaged from his passengers. He did not look at anyone or acknowledge us in the least.

I stepped out into the rain (and how much do we love the rain, drought-stricken as we are) and headed up the hill to the bar, where a smoky scotch awaited me.