Friday, February 17, 2017

Bus Report #958

Last Friday afternoon, everyone on Muni was in a good mood. How often does that happen?
The 22 was almost empty. Even so, when the man we call Richard (or was it Ricardo?) got on, he slipped in to the seat beside me and said hello.
He'd had a few beers and was happy for the weekend. He spoke to me in a mix of Spanish and English. We chatted about weekend plans, about how glad we were that the rain had stopped.
He held out his hand and introduced himself as Mauricio. We shook.
"Rachel," I said, "mucho gusto."
He decided it was better if I was Raquel, and told me so.
I've always liked the name Mauricio, so from now on, Richard/Ricardo will be Mauricio.

At Mission Street he got out. "You going on further?" he asked, waving his hand in the direction of 16th Street.
"Yes," I said. "Have a good weekend."

Not much later, on the 38, a friendly, blond tax preparer from Texas charmed me and the woman sitting beside him. He was so sweet and friendly, and the three of us talked our entire commute from Divisadero to 6th Ave. We all agreed the rain was tiring but necessary, we loved the fog, and the weather was much better here than it was back in Texas.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Bus Report #957

Waiting for the 22 Fillmore after work, I was mostly concerned with getting my umbrella up before I got soaked.

Across the street there was a police car but I didn't pay attention - this is San Francisco, and I was in Potrero Hill. Lots of police officers around, every day. Nice folks, for the most part.

How can I explain how strange it was to, a moment later, watch people from the coroner's office wheel someone in a body bag out of one of the buildings across the street? I've never seen that before. Not in real life.

I watched them open the doors of their van and load the body into the back. They closed the doors and went back into the building, leaving the person alone. But I suppose the dead don't mind.

I don't know who it was or what the circumstances were, but I felt a sadness for the person, for their family, their friends.

When the bus finally arrived, I got on, dripping water everywhere - the seat, the floor, my legs.

Later, arriving home after hanging out with C., there were two people camping in my building's entry way, shooting up. At 10 PM, with people walking by.

"You need to get out of here," I said, my voice shaking - I'd never encountered this before.

"We're going, we're going," said the woman, gathering her things and slowly getting to her feet while her male companion just sort of wandered off down the sidewalk towards the street.

They left a hypodermic needle behind.

I swear, I've seen more needles on the sidewalk in the past year than I ever had in my entire life.

If you are curious how 311 recommends you dispose of unwanted needles left behind by junkies, let me tell you: they recommend you proceed carefully. They will not send anyone out to pick them up unless they are in the street or on the sidewalk. Even then, they can't guarantee pick up - it could be 24-48 hours.
Just get a broom, the man at 311 suggested, and sweep it away from your door.
Yes, great idea - there's a day care center right next door to us.

Maybe they'll come back for it, he said, trying to be helpful. Can I assist you with anything else? he asked.
No, I said. I don't think you can.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Bus Report #956

Last night I took the 22 Fillmore to the 9 San Bruno, to meet S. downtown for one last drinks and dinner session at Lefty O'Doul's.

The 9 was not crowded. I sat in the back with a couple of quiet bearded men who spent the whole ride on their phones, a pasty woman in a Giants sweatshirt, a happy drunk man, and his friend, wearing a black and gold 'Straight Outta San Francisco' hoodie. I liked his sweatshirt a lot - so much so I almost told him.

His friend was swigging from a bottle of Hennessy and the two of them were laughing and joking about girls, the cops, their weekend plans, and who had spent more time in the drunk tank.

They were funny. Loud and unavoidable but they were funny. The woman in the Giants sweatshirt snorted loudly and they started filming her on their phone - Facebook Live style.

The three of them joked and the drunk friend started hanging the bottle of Hennessy out the window, trying to get the drivers to notice him. He yelled for everyone to get drunk. "It's Friday, everyone get drunk! Get drunk! Get drunk!"

I couldn't help giggling.

The drunk friend started yelling that he liked girls with good paying jobs - "They bring the bread, and give the head!" and his friend laughed, and the woman laughed, and I couldn't help laughing, too. He fed off our glee and began chanting this, much to the chagrin of a couple women sitting towards the front of the bus.

They were still filming each other. Straight Outta San Francisco told the woman, "Yo, you're famous now, you're live on Facebook."

The drunk friend must have heard me giggle. He said, "Hey, hey lady, I hope you're not offended or anything."

"Not at all," I said. "I've got no problem with it."

The two of them howled with laughter. Straight Outta San Francisco zoomed his phone in my direction, said, "You're on Live now too!"

The woman got out at Taylor and Market. The guys called after her, asking for her Facebook name, but she just smiled and kept walking.

The bus slowed into my stop, which was apparently theirs, too. 

The drunk friend said, "Hey hope you don't mind but you gonna be totally famous now, you on YouTube and Facebook!"

I just shrugged. "Doesn't matter to me," I said. "I probably won't ever see it."

"It's gonna go viral," he said. "You'll see. We gonna be famous."

"Then I guess people will be coming up to me on the sidewalk, huh?" I said.

The guys just laughed.

"Seriously, though, hope you don't mind," said Straight Outta San Francisco.

I just shook my head. "No worries," I told them. "You guys have a good night."

"You, too," said Straight Outta San Francisco. His drunk friend just laughed.

I didn't tell the guys they were going to be famous too - famous to us, famous here.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Bus Report #955

This morning, on the 33, the smiley man sat in front of me.

I don't make it a daily practice to stare at people's ears, but I immediately noticed something odd about his. Behind each ear there are four deep creases of skin on either side, between his earlobes and his hairline. I've never noticed that on anyone else before.


In Potrero, waiting to cross the street, a person with a thin blue blanket draped over their bony shoulders was down on the sidewalk on all fours, scrabbling around on the ground for something that was not there. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Bus Report #954

Monday morning, cold and drizzly walk down Clement Street to catch the 33.
The doors and windows of Clement, all closed.

In front of Sparky's, a pink balloon was tied to a parking meter. A message was written on it in permanent marker: When they go low, we go high. - Michelle Obama
Nice. Very nice.

The bus arrived on time, driven by the friendly driver who reminds me of Jason. I suppose he also looks like the actor Andre Holland - sweet smile, beautiful eyes.
(and speaking of Holland - if you have yet to see Moonlight, you've got to see it. It's got the Rachel seal of approval. The Rachel-back guarantee.)

In the Castro the smiley man got on, followed by a trio of twitchy, meth-y folks. One of the men carried a green milk crate and I don't know what was in it, but it was heavy. He hauled it up the stairs, almost hitting the smiley man in the process. All three of the twitchy folks smelled so strongly of stale cigarettes they had that nutty, old coffee smell about them, too.
The man with the crate and the lone woman among them sat behind me. The entire rest of the ride I could hear them tearing the plastic off of things, dropping things on the floor, and then scrabbling to pick them up.

I got out at my usual stop, accompanied by the smiley man who wished me a good day and quickly crossed the street before the light changed. I waited for my light, and then I hopped over large puddles on Potrero and crossed to the next corner.

The garage was just opening when I walked by and my friend there, do we call him George? he greeted me and said, "I forgot to give you your Christmas gift!"
I followed him into the office and wished his wife a Happy New Year. A moment later, George handed me a pint glass branded with their logo, filled to the brim with pens, pencils and Hershey's Kisses. I thanked him and walked the rest of the way to work clutching the glass in my free hand.

This morning, talking with the smiley man, I pointed out the amazing peach-pink sky peeking out above Potrero.
"That means a storm is coming," he said, still smiling. "Trust me. We say that in Mexico."

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.