Friday, July 15, 2016

Bus Report #930

This morning, walking to catch the 33:

There were no other people out and about, not even the man who picks up trash on 10th and Clement. Just me and the bird gangs of the Inner Richmond - the pigeon families, the shrieking crows, the seagulls, so many seagulls, loudly calling to each other as they roamed the intersection of 5th and Clement.

It was a cold, damp morning but the open windows and the open doors of Clement Street were still open. One apartment was dark and quiet, but still had its second floor windows open as wide as possible. Another upper-story apartment had wire hangers of clothes hung from a curtain rod. The shirts and socks swaying just a tiny bit.

The door leading up to the wet suit landing was ajar. I could see a couple of wet suits draped over the wooden bench at the top of the stairs.

On the bus, just a handful of passengers.
As we turned down 18th Street, a sight to make me smile: two pink flamingos planted in a tiny square of dirt out front one of the houses. The flamingos looked very natty: one wore a blue tie, the other, a rope of pears wrapped four times around its neck. Fancy!

Walking to work from the bus, I spied the hot, hot CHP guys just hanging out at Philz having coffees. These guys should be on a calendar, they'd make millions.

I'd never noticed the sliver of empty lot between a non-descript new condo building and the Anchor parking lot, but I smelled it before I saw it this morning. It was weedy but smelled like grass and fennel. Purple flowers climbed one of the containers parked midway between De Haro and Carolina. 

On the sidewalk someone had scrawled my brother's name, in chalk. It was very faded but I could still make it out. Someone else wrote in (what looked like) blue-green finger paint: Haz el amor.

Briefly forgotten, sighted yesterday afternoon: The man who sits on the bus spinning wool into yarn had been spinning some lovely grey wool. After a few blocks, as we descended into the Castro, he packed up his project and stepped out of the bus.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bus Report #929

Tonight, a quiet ride home from the Mission on the 33.

Nextbus was cycling through improbable predictions: 20 minutes and 44 minutes, 32 minutes and 65 minutes, and then back to 3 minutes and 23 minutes.
There were three of us waiting for the bus and we all had different ideas on when the bus was arriving. Apparently, three is the number of people you need to get together to accurately predict arrival times. The bus showed up four minutes later.
Not too many passengers, a friendly driver.
At 18th and Church we picked up an elderly lady who had been about to hop in a cab when the bus showed up. She thanked the driver.

In the Castro we idled at the light and a kid in a nearby frozen yogurt shop ran out of the shop, jumped over a bench, and began waving to someone in the back of the bus.

"Drew, man, I'll text you," he yelled to his friend.
And then he jumped over the bench again, went back inside.

Up the hill the fog was rolling over the city in thick ribbons. All the lights below us looked fuzzy. One house up on the hill was brightly lit with blinding fluorescents. The entire place was being redecorated and was a mass of white furniture, white cabinets, white walls, white lamps.

We stopped at Carmel to let someone out and the elderly woman asked the driver if he could let her out a few houses down from the next stop. "Of course," said the driver. "You just let me know where is good."
He stopped the bus right in front of her building and she slowly exited the bus, called good nights and thank yous back at the driver. "You're welcome, ma'am, you take care now."

In the Haight, near the park, there were still a lot of people out and about. None of them looked as cold as I felt.

When we got to my stop I thanked the driver and crossed Geary, hoping to catch a 38 home the rest of the way. There were none in sight, so I walked, hands shoved in pockets, the wind lifting my hair, the fog and mist settling on my cheeks.

It was an uneventful walk home, but beautiful, serenaded by the fog horns. They will lull me to sleep, quite shortly.

Tuesday night, on the 1 California, headed home:

A girl sitting across from me had a tattoo, in Hebrew, behind her ear and I spent the better part of the ride trying to decipher it.
If anyone knows what gimel-yud-lamed-hay spells (or hay-lamed-yud-gimel, I suppose), let me know in the comments. My guess is it was someone's name, spelled phonetically, and incorrectly. But what do I know - I was always in remedial Hebrew class back in my Hebrew school days.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Bus Report #928

Yesterday, the Fourth of July, I took the 33 Ashbury from the Richmond all the way down to 24th and Potrero, to go to C's for a barbecue.

The bus arrived and I got on, balancing my freshly baked blueberry bars in their carrier on my lap.
We sped down Arguello, and then down Fulton to Stanyan, slowing down in the Haight to pick up a few passengers.

It had been a while since I'd been in the Haight after 7 AM and it was its usual raucous, vibrant self. Many tourists in their shorts and sandals, Upper Haight street rats with their backpacks and their dogs.

Twin Peaks was sunny with a layer of fog hanging just below the sun. It isn't the 4th without you, Karl!

Further down the route we turned at 16th and Potrero and headed down Potrero.

A man from the back of the bus hollered, "Hey, I wanted that stop!"

The driver said, "You didn't signal for it, so you'll have to wait for the next one."

"What? I was tying my shoe, can't you please just let me out?"

The driver glanced at him in the mirror. "I'll let you out at the next stop. You gotta signal next time."

The man stood up and walked up to the door. "Man! You must really hate your job and really hate your life, you can't stop and let me out!"

The driver looked at him again. "I love my job and I love my life. You can get out in a minute."

The man shook his head. "All right, I guess I'll be walking. That's okay, I got my phone, gonna take some pictures."

He finally got out at the next stop, taking his sweet time to curse out our driver a bit more before he actually stepped out of the bus.

Once he was out the door, the driver said, "Can you believe that guy?"

I said, "Well you know, he was tying his shoe, so he didn't have time to ring the bell."

The four of us left on the bus all laughed. One elderly woman sitting near the front of the bus smiled at me and said, "He needs some of those Velcro shoes, maybe."

When we got to my stop, I wished everyone a good holiday and told the driver not to let jerks like that guy ruin her day.

"Oh, he won't ruin my anything," she said. "You take care."

Hours later, I waited for the bus home in a bus stop that reeked of old piss.

Several people were passed out on either side of the bus shelter. One man spent a good five minutes adjusting himself, and scratching his chest, before sharing a cigarette with a woman who staggered over from across the street.

The bus soon arrived and I got on. At the next stop, a man lurched up the stairs and slid in to the seat behind me. He immediately began arguing with himself, but directed it at the man sitting across from him.

When that man got out the bus at the Potrero Center, the arguing man turned his attention to me. He leaned over the back of my seat and yelled nonsense at me for a while. It was frightening - the tone of his voice was very aggressive and he was twitchy, with sudden flailing movements. More than once he lunged forward, trying to get my attention. He would also step into the stair well and poke his head out the door and look around, and then get back on the bus.
He reminded me of someone who frightened me as a child, a man in my old neighborhood who we called "The Barking Man."
Except that this guy actually seemed dangerous.

The driver eventually put him off the bus when he started yelling at a couple of elderly riders, but really, he should have been put off long before that.

A woman sat beside me and began pulling potatoes out of her bag one by one, inspecting them carefully. They looked like regular potatoes to me, but I'm no expert.

Bi-Rite and Tartine were packed with customers and Dolores park was a sea of people enjoying the San Francisco Mime Troupe.

In the Haight, people got their photos taken on the corner of Haight and Ashbury.
By then, the fog was starting to roll back in for the evening.

I got home just as the wind picked up and the fog enveloped my neighborhood.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Bus Report #927

Another wonderfully foggy morning.
I could smell the dampness, see the fog wrap itself around the buildings and lampposts as I walked down the street to meet the bus.

The pigeon family who has taken up residence above one of our many "closed for kitchen remodel" restaurants was out on the sidewalk, the parents watching the chicks poke and peck at the cement.

Down the block, three crows fought over strips of shredded paper.

The homeless woman I constantly worry about was already awake, walking back and forth near her luggage with a quilt wrapped around her shoulders. If I thought she would accept it, I'd bring her hot tea and an egg sandwich to warm her up. But I've seen her yell at people who try to help her. She gets frightened by the close contact. I don't want to make her feel uncomfortable.

Near Third Ave., a woman walked her rambunctious French Bulldog puppy - I did not mind his enthusiastic jumping as I walked by. They are my Kryptonite, those French Bulldogs.

The bus was early and I made a dash to catch it as it pulled in to our stop.
The overly-cologned, (former Axe body spray user) man got on and said good morning, and then he and his terrible cologne drifted towards the back of the bus.

Everyone was quieter today, more subdued. Was it down to the fog, the cool air?

I didn't know, but I also didn't mind.

We arrived at Bryant Street much earlier than usual. I got out and walked, the morning still cool and quiet, and still foggy even in Potrero.

This is why I love it here.

Summer, San Francisco style.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Bus Report #926

This morning, on the 33 Ashbury (that's what we're calling it these days, right?).

The ride was uneventful for most of the commute, just me and some other regulars - the Russian woman who Skypes with her son, the bearded bald man - and a man I'd never seen before. The newcomer reeked of smoke (he'd just finished a cigarette and stashed the butt in a pocket before getting on the bus) and he sat in front of me. I fanned away the smoky smell. He wore a skull necklace that looked as though it was carved from bone or shells - cool.
I looked at his backpack, which was wrecked and looked like it was about to come apart at the seams. Thought about how I'd repair the straps, if it belonged to me.

We rode down into the Castro.
The memorial to the victims of the Orlando massacre just keeps getting bigger and sadder every day. Someone had chalked the names of all the victims on the sidewalk and it still looked pristine in the morning, as though people had been walking around it to show their respect.

The whole thing just rips my heart open wider and wider every morning.

We pulled in to the stop at 18th and Castro and several people got out. As we left the stop, the man sitting in front of me got up and went to the front of the bus, stopping to scoop up a forgotten phone left on one of the seats. He gave it to the driver.
The driver asked, "did you see who left it?"
The man nodded. "Yeah, but he already took off."
"Let's wait a minute," the driver said. "Maybe they'll come back."
She waited a couple minutes and then slowly started rolling down 18th.
She stopped the bus just a few feet away - someone was running back towards our bus.
"That's him," said the man in front of me.
A young guy in headphones jogged up the stairs and the driver handed him his phone. "Don't thank me," the driver said, "thank him," and she pointed to the man who had found the phone.
The kid grinned and thanked the man sitting in front of me.

A good start to a Friday. Have a good weekend, all.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Bus Report #925

This week, in the mornings, it has been gloriously foggy.

The kind of fog where you wonder if the problem is actually your eyes, because everything appears blurry in soft focus and you can't see more than a half a block ahead of you.

The side streets off of Clement were thick with low-hanging, cottony fog, Karl in full force, rolling down the block, alive.

On the bus we climbed Ashbury and Clayton and were completely enveloped in the heavy, grey stuff.

The view from Upper Market of the rest of the city? Obscured so that it felt as though we were alone, just the dozen or so of us in our little metal box.

Just beautiful. Our summer fog is here. And I am delighted.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bus Report #924

Four mornings in a row on the 33 Stanyan, the giant genie and his morning facial care routine.

He gets on at his stop and folds his tall, tall body into a seat near the front of the bus.

Out comes the mustache balm and the beard oil, the dandy brush, the straight comb for his sideburns.

When his mustache and beard are properly groomed, he takes a thermos flask of coffee from his backpack and adds some sugars, then he screws the lid back on and shakes the flask. He takes a few sips and then returns the thermos to his backpack pocket for the rest of the ride.

When he gets out the bus, he has to duck his head to get through the door.

Bus Report #923

Last night when our bus stopped at Haight and Fillmore, three police officers got on and slowly moved to the back of the bus. Were they looking for someone in particular? Checking for something?
No one knew.
The mood on the bus grew tense, quiet. People who had been texting or listening to music a minute earlier were all now frozen in place, watching the cops.

They stood in a clump in the back of the bus.

Nothing happened, so the driver headed up the hill when the light changed.

I still don't know what they were doing on the bus. Did our new interim chief of police direct his officers to take public transit and interact more with the public? Or were they actively searching for someone?

I watched them as they chatted among themselves and checked their phones and their radios. Two of them were quite young, with neat, short hair.
The third police officer had a thick mustache that looked like a caterpillar hanging out above his lip.He was a younger version of my neighborhood nemesis, Officer Mustache. Only cuter, and there was no chance I'd be busted for jaywalking while sitting still on the bus.

When I got out at Geary the police officers stayed on the bus.
I wonder where they went.