Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Bus Report #1010

Muni nightmare last night, an actual nightmare.

I was riding the 22 Fillmore with a plan to switch to the 19 Polk and then back. For some reason it made sense in the dream to leave my purse and tote bag on the bus, because I'd just get it later.
Well.
Even in a dream, Muni doesn't work as planned. I got out of the 19 on Fillmore and McAllister and waited for the 22. I saw it coming but instead a 44 O'Shaughnessy pulled up and I got on.
I could see my 22 getting further and further away, with my purse and tote bag just sitting there on a seat, waiting for my return. The bus climbed higher and higher up the hill, and that was that. No purse, no wallet, no keys, no nothing. Did I even have my Clipper card?
I woke up scared and disoriented, seconds before my alarm clock went off.

This morning the 33 was on time, our new driver (let's call her Tasha) training an even newer driver.
Tasha wore a cool Presidio Muni yard sweatshirt. Muni worm lettering with flames dancing around the letters.

Barely any passengers but I suppose the early hour was the point: she could instruct the new guy without worrying about angry passengers. I think he did pretty well - took the turns like a champ, didn't ride the brakes.

I got out at Potrero and headed to work.
Waved to the guys at the garage, stepped around a knot of UPS drivers smoking on the corner.
Under the overpass I walked in the street to avoid an encampment and almost stepped on what was the largest hypodermic needle I've seen in a while.

In the park, birds and more birds hopping around in the grass. I saw three robin red breasts and I smiled. I always love those guys. 

As I crossed the street to get to work, a car almost hit me - after I'd made eye contact and signaled I was going to cross and everything. I yelled, I screamed, and nothing. The husband stared straight ahead and the wife shrugged at me, as though it was nothing. They kept going.
Half a block later they stopped to drop their precious child off at the ultra fancy private school we share a building with.
Didn't occur to them that perhaps I was someone else's precious child.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Bus Report #1009

Last night, late, after drinks and dinner with the Teacher's Pet.
Crowded bus but I got a seat without any trouble.
A man got on, clutching his arm (in a sling), and moaning, moaning. He did so for another four blocks before he got out, cradling his bad arm.

A couple stops later, a junkie guy with huge backpack and a dog got on. The dog was thin, her collar not quite fitting right, a pink bandana around her neck. The man dumped his bag on a seat and started pulling things out and then putting them back in. He ripped open a couple of packages of flash drives and tossed the packaging on the floor. Did the same with a new dog toy, dropping the toy onto the floor for his dog. She immediately began playing with it.

The man scratched at his hands, which were covered in scabs. Chewed on the butt of a cigarette. He was young but looked older than his years, sickly.
He coaxed the dog up onto the seat beside him.

At Fillmore he tried to get off the bus but his dog was sleeping on the seat and she wouldn't get up despite his yelling at her, "C'mon, get up, get up, get up." The doors closed and he yelled at the driver, who could not hear him from all the way in the back.
Half a block later the driver opened the doors. "You wanted to get out?" he said over the intercom.
"Well not anymore, not now," the man muttered.
He kept packing and unpacking his stuff for a few more blocks.

At Masonic a half dozen USF freshmen got on, one girl and five guys. An older woman walking behind them called to the girl, "How many boyfriends you got? Hey, how many boyfriends?"
The kids moved to the back of the bus, laughing.
"Is she talking about me?" Asked the girl. Her friend replied that she was, and then told her not to acknowledge the woman.
The woman sat down and began, or most likely continued, a rant.
"You want to go to a party tomorrow? I know the police commissioner. They're having a party at headquarters tomorrow and you can drink some beers. And then they can baptize you, and then you can pay $200 to punch a Buddhist nun in the face and you won't go to hell. I promise you. You can do it. They are Cambodian and Vietnamese and Chinese. They will let you." And on, and on.

The junkie guy muttered, "I could use $200."
He said, "Anyone want to punch me in the face right now for $200, go for it, I need that money like I need water."
The woman said, "You can punch them. I promise you. You can pay $200. You punch them in the face, you won't go to hell."
The man repeated, "I could use that $200."

He got out at 6th Avenue, no richer than before.



Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Bus Report #1008

This afternoon, the 22 Fillmore bus headed home.
At McAllister a young man I've seen on the bus for years gets on, slides into the seat beside me.
I remember him as a teen. A quiet kid, quieter than his friends at least, big, but still a kid. Went to Everett, if I recall, then to Mission.
He has to be in his early 20s now, still big, still quiet, but something is not right with him.
I've seen him around town as well as on the bus.
All kinds of weather, all times of day. Just by himself. No friends.
Today. His clothes are clean but worn. Hair could use a trim. String of something clinging to his scalp. It is obvious he doesn't take the best care of himself anymore. Sitting beside me, his body emanates heat and dampness and he's restless. No jacket. Just a bottle of energy drink.
His brown eyes bloodshot but wet, and bright.
I can't help it, I worry.
Worry about him, and for him.
Is it drugs? Mental illness?

He glances at my shoes, my totebag, swigs his drink. Leans forward as though about to take off running.
He gets out by Panda Express, walks in through the front door of the restaurant. I watch him weave through the tables and exit through the back door.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Bus Report #1007

It's the time of year when Muni just sucks the life out of me.
Slow commutes. Missing runs.
How is it that back to school time just makes everything crazier? School was only out for a little over 2 months, wasn't it? Surely people haven't really forgotten how to take a bus?
But they have.

A man standing in the doorway with a rolled up futon.
Kid on his phone, refusing to acknowledge the woman with the newborn baby in a sling on her chest, who could use the seat more than he could.
And new folks with huge backpacks, and pushy women who work somewhere near me, who, even if I have my foot on the step to get on the bus try to slide in before me. Insanity, really.
Monday I sit in the only open seat, next to an enormous man who takes up a good half of my seat.
The rest of the ride, I get hit in the back and shoulder by everyone getting on or off, and by backpacks, swinging purses, and a pair of hard hats.

But, still.
Friendly and professional drivers. Regulars with a sense of humor. Beautiful people of all stripes. Sweet teens with new jeans and fresh haircuts. The three construction guys who didn't know which bus to take last night to get to BART, with their bashful smiles as I helped them out.

Annie yesterday, her last day as my morning driver, unless I'm running late, of course.
"I'll be on the next run," she said. "So when you're late, I'll see you."
I gave her a coffee card and thanked her, said I'd see her around.

The mom with the middle school son and the beautiful, autistic little boy, the three of them back on the 33 in the mornings. Mom and older son smile and say good morning. The little guy just stares, his gorgeous big brown eyes see right through me.


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Bus Report #1006

Annie was my driver this morning, first time in almost a week.
"Where were you last week?" she asked as I got on. "I kept stopping and being like, where is that girl?"
I laughed. "I know, I think I was catching the earlier bus? Or the later? It was weird. Different people and all. It was confusing."
"Oh, man. Yeah. Just when you start to get used to the other passengers."
We laughed some more, and I sat down.
She waited for the elderly woman with a cane who usually just takes the bus one stop. It doesn't bother me. Sweet older woman. Always friendly.

Giant genie, folded into the seat across from me. His legs have got to be twice the length of mine, I swear. Coffee, Splenda, lotion. And repeat.

I got out at Bryant, did a Safeway and bagel run. Homeless men fighting in the parking lot, shoving over-full grocery carts at each other. One man did a strange little bow-legged jig. Everyone in the plaza watched but kept their distance. Someone went to get one of the Safeway security guards.

Minutes later, crossing the street, there was a 22 Fillmore bus parked at an odd angle in the crosswalk, empty of passengers, the driver obscured behind the back of the bus as he pulled down the overhead wires.
While I waited for the light at Potrero I saw the right-hand side of  the bus: the front door window panel was smashed, a web of glass. An Examiner newspaper box lay on its side in the street. Had someone thrown the box at the bus? My vote was one, or both, of the men who had just been fighting in the parking lot.
Scary.

The driver came around front. It was Leon. He was preoccupied, his mouth set in a thin line, not his usual smile, or I'd have said hi. He got back on the bus and fiddled with the door a moment, before turning the bus around the corner and heading, I assume, to the yard.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Bus Report #1005

Was I early for the bus this morning or was the bus late? The jury is still out.

A woman ran for the bus at Arguello. She dumped her stuff into one of the double seats and proceeded to spray some kind of noxious smelling body spray (or was it hand sanitizer?) everywhere.
I coughed, opened the windows near my seat.
She got out at Hayes.
Really, lady? You can't wait to... what? Over spray yourself? Disinfect? Until you get to work? Awesome. Really.

It was the first day of school for San Francisco kids. Lots of new outfits and backpacks, moms and dads walking with their kindergartners. Sweet. The older kids walked in twos and threes, caught up with each other after the summer break.

This afternoon on the bus, two middle school boys spent the duration of their ride flipping through their homework packets and sharing handouts. They even twirled their pencils - I didn't even know kids still used pencils. The boys looked excited. I hope they stay that way.

Mission and 16th, the usual bunch of folks hanging out in the plaza. I caught sight of the extra large, fat, Jeremy Novy Koi fish stenciled on the sidewalk. I love his happy, colorful fish.

On the bus for a few blocks, a little girl I often see with her mom, little brother and little sister. She wore a huge new backpack featuring a Disney princess. She was bubbly, animated. When they got out to go pick up the little sister, I saw that she'd put on a headband - a pink, white and gold unicorn horn.

Crowded 38R. Lots of people on their phones. Inexplicably, the heat was on. I opened the windows and turned up the volume on my headphones. Have you heard Dessa yet? I highly recommend her.

I got out at Arguello and Geary. Back in the fog and the mist. Ahhh. My favorite. I buttoned my coat and slipped my sunglasses into my pocket. Walked the rest of the way home. 



Thursday, August 16, 2018

Bus Report #1004

Two mornings in a row I've caught the slightly earlier bus, so I've been riding with the Axe body spray guy, the unfriendly Russian woman (still Skyping her son, loudly, with random people in the background), and a handful of other semi-regulars.

There's a man who catches the bus every morning, homeless, maybe?, with a huge backpack and a stained leather jacket. I've seen him panhandling out front the Taco Bell a few times. Can't figure him out, not that he needs me to. He was quiet today, not aggressively barking into his phone as he often does.

The sky was a cloudy peach-orange-black color for a few minutes, then turned as orange as a needle cap, and then it was blue-white-yellow, the sun as pale as I've ever seen it.

It must be school season again, because the giant genie is back! Just as tall and bald and bearded as ever. Tanned. I wonder if my happy smile scared him as he slid in to a seat across the aisle from me. I can't help it. Love the giant genie. Love his morning routine. His balms and lotions and combs. His travel cup and his Splenda packets.

Watched today's driver alight from his seat and lean out the door to press the button to change the traffic lights up on Market and Clayton, then turn and sit back down. It was balletic, the way he turned and twisted stretched his arm into the lean, stepped back up into his seat.

Dolores Park, picked up a couple of grungy, wild-eyed guys. One of them struggled for several minutes to put his tiny bike on the bike rack. When he finally got on, he lumbered towards the back of the bus, his blue eyes bloodshot, every part of his body twitching.

There's a young woman who gets on at Mission some mornings, who works at McDonald's, according to her T-shirt. She's sweet. Always says good morning, smiley. She ran for the bus and caught it at the last minute. As she hurried in and took her usual seat across from me I grinned and said, "You just made it."
She nodded and grinned back. I hope she has a good day. She works at the Potrero McDonald's. That's a busy one, and a crazy one. How do I know? Crazy Tom used to be their locksmith, and Tom, well... he's a character. And if he says something is crazy out of control, I believe him.

At the garage, no sign of my friend Frank but his coworker - let's call him Aaron - was there. We said hi as we always do. A friendly man with a friendly smile. Pretty eyes.