Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Bus Report #973

This morning the sky was cotton candy pink with clouds to match. Not a hint of our beloved fog. It was bright enough that I could see all the way towards downtown. Amazing.
Waved to the friendly Russian woman who was waiting, as usual, for the 2 Clement.

Within a few blocks the pink sunrise cooled into a light blue that I suppose could also have been a shade of cotton candy.

Open windows of Clement Street - an almost always dark window was well lit, the shades ajar, a shirtless man walking around a small room. I turned away to give him some privacy.

And the open doors: wet suit landing door open, bench at the top of the stairs free of wet suits.

Waiting for Leon, I said good morning to the man who is often sitting on the bench out front the pizza place. We used to just nod at each other, but friendliness has gotten the best of me. So now we greet each other every day.

I put on my headphones to listen to the latest episode of Radio Ambulante. Always amazing. If you're looking to improve your Spanish, or just enjoy a great podcast, you should check it out.

C. came around the corner, on his way to work. We both took off our headphones and stopped and chatted for a moment. So pleasant.
He hurried off, so as not to be late, and Leon pulled up in the 33 a moment later.

We were in one of the coaches that has the ad with his photo in it. I can't help it, I always find that to be strange.

Most of the ride I spent listening to the radio show. Not many regulars this morning, not many people at all. No giant genie, either. In the Castro, an out-of-it guy on a bike actually stopped for the bus. Huh. I guess even drug-addled meth guys can surprise me sometimes.

At Potrero I hopped out. Leon and I did our usual "Have a great day, you too, see you tomorrow, catch you later" and I crossed the street.

Walked down 16th, in the street because the sidewalk was still blocked by the encampment I reported last week. And the week before. A few blocks later, across the street, I saw my coworker, D.

I waved, he waved, and then he crossed over and we walked to work together, after grabbing coffee at Philz.

It was one of those golden San Francisco mornings, with an easy commute and nice people. What M. used to call a "Miss Rachel's Neighborhood" kind of vibe.

Let's have some more of those.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Bus Report #972

This morning I was the only passenger on the 33, with Leon at the wheel.
"Man, was your day totally crazy yesterday?" I asked, because the 33 was right in the thick of Golden Gate Park 420 festivities yesterday.
He laughed. "You know, I took the day off yesterday. I had no desire to be part of that at all."
That's right, I thought - yesterday was the other driver.
"It was crazy last night," I said. "You didn't miss anything. Smart of you."
"I mean they can do their celebration," he said, grinning, "But I don't need to be involved in that."
I agreed and sat down.

As the bus rode through the Upper Haight, I could see there was still evidence of yesterday's event scattered all over the park. The upper panhandle was covered in paper (fliers? handouts?) and the trash cans near the entrance to the park were overflowing. Still, at least this year there was an event sponsor and an attempt at controlling the crowds.

No sign of our drunk and confused passengers from yesterday.

The giant genie got on at his usual stop. Sat in front of me and went through his routine - comb, dandy brush, lotions. And then his second routine: opening up his coffee hot cup, adding his sugar, shaking the cup to mix. 

The sun was bright and when we took the hairpin turn onto Market, the city below us was bathed in ombre shades of gold, with a thin band of early morning fog hanging low over the buildings. Just beautiful.

I got out at Potrero as always, bid Leon a good day and a great weekend. He waved and I crossed the street to walk to work, while he took a right onto Potrero.

The large encampment that I've reported twice (and man, if you want to see the state of our city, from graffiti to homeless concerns to abandoned vehicles, check out the latest 311 requests, it is crazy! Each time I check, there are at least four other open reports about this encampment) still blocks 16th between Utah and Vermont so that I have to zig zag around tents and trash and, under the freeway, walk in the street because the sidewalk is completely blocked. And then when I stepped back up onto the sidewalk this morning, I almost stepped on a hypodermic needle. Delightful.

Have a great weekend, all.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bus Report #971

I waited for the bus in the early morning sunlight, the delicious buttery smell from Arsicault teasing me, trying to lure me across the street to stand in line for a croissant. But I was strong, and I resisted.

The 33 was late, and Leon was not our driver.

In the Haight, two very, very drunk men tried to get in through the back door. One of them could not even stand up on his own, so his friend tried to help him, but the drunker of the two (in four layers of torn, oversized  pants and vests) just slumped in the step well for a moment, and then climbed halfway onto the bus from the stairs. He then started to crawl - sort of - his grimy fingernails scrabbling against the floor.

We all stared at them. The driver stated the obvious, "Sir, you can't stay there, you can't block the steps."

The less-drunk of the two helped his friend stand up, and then pulled him into the seat right behind me.

The rest of their ride, the really drunk man kept yelling something that sounded like "16 Haight Street," to which his friend nodded each time.

We were about to take the hairpin turn onto Market when the less-drunk man asked the driver when we'd get to Haight Street.

She turned around and stared at him. "I picked you up on Haight Street. If you want Haight Street, you never should have gotten on the bus. You gotta get out, cross the street, and wait for the other bus to take you back."

The less-drunk man stood up and gestured for his friend. The very drunk man slow-motioned his way to the stairs and then disembarked one molasses-slow step at a time. As we drove away minutes later, I watched the drunker man slump to the sidewalk, where he stayed until we were completely out of sight. 


Monday, April 17, 2017

Bus Report #970

Thursday afternoon, a crowded 22 Fillmore.
I sat in a backwards facing seat across from a skater kid with an ugly cut and scab on his arm. He picked off the scab and started flinging it onto the floor (ugh!) and then he tried to blot his bloody arm with the corner of his sweatshirt. It was disgusting. I handed him a tissue.
He stared at it, blankly, then took it and nodded a thank you. Spent the rest of the ride pressing the tissue on his cut, taking it off to examine the blood, and pressing it right back down.

Friday after work, a decidedly empty 22 Fillmore.
I got on the bus at my usual stop, maybe four other riders in total. I suppose people had the day off for Good Friday, maybe? At De Haro, Mauricio got on an slid into the seat beside me. He loves his Fridays, loves his couple of after work beers before he gets on the bus.
We chatted in a mixture of Spanish and English, talked about his love of the beach, holiday weekend obligations, and what a beautiful day it was.
As he always does when we're about to get to Mission, he waved his hand and asked if I was continuing on. "To the avenues?" he asked.
"To the avenues," I said. "Have a great weekend, see you later."


Friday, April 14, 2017

Bus Report #969

This morning's ride on the 33 was smooth, just the usual regulars and Leon, being his friendly self.
At Mission Street we took on just three passengers.
A woman chatting quietly on her phone, a young woman with amazing hair, and a man who shuffled onto the bus with his pants pulled up just under his backside.

Had he been wearing underwear, it would have just been an unfortunate fashion faux pas, but he wasn't, so it was an extremely unfortunate early morning glimpse of the last ass you'd want to see.

He sat down near the woman with the amazing hair. She promptly stood up and moved to the row behind me.
The man mumbled to himself, and then stood up and started yelling at Leon.

Leon had been watching him through the mirror as we rode down 16th.
But when the man grew even more aggressive, Leon pulled the bus over and opened the door, and told the man to get out.

It was tense - the man cursing Leon and getting in his face, Leon standing up and trying to calm the man down and get him to leave. The two of them almost pressed up together in the front of the bus. I had my hand on my phone just in case calling the police became necessary.

During all of this, Leon kept glancing back at all of us and apologizing.

I worried that the man would hurt Leon. He was bigger than Leon and obviously not in his right mind. He grabbed his bag and threatened to hurt Leon - "Just try it, ____, I'll beat your ass, ____."
"Man, you always get on my bus and make trouble, you gotta get out right now," Leon replied.
"You gonna make me?" the man said. The man cursed Leon's mother, and shuffled to the back door.
"You ain't even worth it," the man muttered, and he got out.
Leon slammed the doors shut.
"Everyone okay back there? Miss, before you changed seats, did he do anything to you?" he asked.
The woman with amazing hair said no.
Leon apologized to us all again, said the man was always a problem but that he was sorry things got heated.
"You were just fine," I said, and some of the other passengers agreed.

At Potrero I hopped out to wait for the 22. "You have an easy rest of the day," I told Leon.

The 22 pulled up a moment later and who was the first person out of the bus? You guessed it. The problem guy.

One of the other passengers who had just been on the 33 with me looked over at me and said, "uh oh."
We got on the 22. I told the driver, "You know, Leon just kicked that guy off a couple minutes ago, too."
The driver nodded, shrugged his shoulders. "Yeah, I can guess why."

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bus Report #968

Four days in a row with Leon as our early morning driver.
After everyone hops out at Potrero I ride along with him down to Kansas. We talk about the weather, Leon's one-man campaign to educate riders about not running out in traffic to catch the bus, his recent home improvement projects.

It's nice.

This afternoon, the man sitting across the aisle from me is so beautiful I can't stop staring. He's got perfect skin, slightly rosy, a well-trimmed mustache framing a delicate pink mouth. So beautiful, I wonder if he used to be a woman? Shame on me, I suppose, but I spend a few minutes subtracting the mustache, the buzz cut, the boy's figure. But I can't see it. He's just a beautiful man.

He gets out at 16th and Mission.

I was listening to a new podcast on the way home - don't we love podcasts that are long enough to keep us company along our commutes? And man, is it good. As the bus arrived in to the stop at Duboce, something happened in the podcast that stopped me short. I think I even held my breath for a moment, and then I bit in to my tongue.

Because otherwise, I really think I'd have started crying.
Good lord.

Still recovering from it. It's like aftershocks.

I'll let you discover it on your own, for now. Maybe in a month or two I'll let you know what I was listening to.

Geary and Fillmore, waiting for the 38 bus with a dozen or so other people. The bus slides in to the stop and we pile on. I sit across from a huge kid who spends the whole ride talking loudly on the phone - or at least, I think he's on the phone, but then I notice he is not on the phone at all. Just speaking out into the ether. His big brown eyes bulging and sweeping the bus for someone to listen to him.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bus Report #967

This morning, a surprisingly damp and humid start to the day, and foggy.

Caught the 33, Leon at the wheel again, no regulars except the annoying little woman with her garlic tea.

We flew down Arguello, and then down Fulton and Stanyan, picking up just one of the Hayes girls today. She grinned and we said good morning as we always do. As she passed by, I caught a whiff of her coconut hair product. People keep telling me I should get some for myself, and maybe one of these days, I will.

In the Haight, when we turned on to Ashbury, Leon honked and yelled out the window at a woman who did not let him turn (she was supposed to wait behind the painted line for him to turn first). She just shrugged and shot him a bitchy look. Nice.

The giant genie got on at his usual stop and sat in the front of the bus. First, he combed his beard and mustache. Then, he took his lotion out of his bag and lotioned up his hands, and his sleeve in the process. Those hands. They are huge. He lotioned and lotioned, mesmerizing, really.

As we rounded the hairpin turn at the top of Market and Clayton, the city was below us, still asleep for the most part, a thick band of dark grey fog obscuring the tops of the tallest buildings.

(and I just found this - some historical photos of this turn (and former switchback), for your geeky enjoyment)

Just like yesterday, everyone got out the bus at Potrero and 16th, except for me.
Leon turned around and grinned. "Hey, so it's just us again, huh?"
"Yep," I said, and I went up to the front of the bus and sat down.
We chatted about the weather (which has gotten progressively colder and drearier as the week has gone on) and about his regulars.
"I'm great with faces, but not names," he said. "By the way, what's your name?"
"Rachel," I said. "You?"

Because, as you may have guessed, I'm big on pseudonyms here. Leon is, of course, not his real name.

But we're still going to call him that, because despite now knowing his real name, he could still be a Leon.

He said, "I love my regulars. You know? It's like they're my friends, especially after a while."
I nodded. "I get it. We do spend a lot of time with you guys."
He laughed. "I'm off tomorrow, so I'll see you next week," he said.
"Have a good rest of your week," I told him, and headed down the street to work.