Monday, November 12, 2018

Bus Report #1016

I crisscrossed the city this weekend, mostly on Muni. The bad air quality made everyone a little quieter, more subdued.
I wanted to open the windows on the 28 on Saturday so I could smell the Eucalyptus in the Presidio, but the smoke was too thick.
Fort Mason was packed with people going to and from Renegade and Radhaus. My merry band of writers sat inside in Goody Cafe for a few hours, people watching in between typing.

Heading home I watched the parade of good and bad smoke protection masks. Most people were wearing the same thin hospital masks you can buy at any dollar store. Useless. Some people had slightly better ones but still. I can count the number of actual good, appropriate masks on one hand.

This morning the 33 was almost empty, I assume because people had the day off for Veteran's Day.
At Church Street a familiar smiling man got on. It was Mauricio.
He waved and grinned, said "Hello, Raquel," and slid into the seat beside me.
"What are you doing here?" I asked him, because usually he gets on at 16th and Mission.
He gestured to the J Church that was just passing by. "24th Street," he said.
We chatted, in our usual mix of Spanish and English. Checked in on each other's weekend.

He told me of his Christmas shopping plans out at Serramonte with his seven year old "Grandbaby" - I think he's getting him a new shirt? It was unclear, but his love and pride for his grandson were the clearest things on this morning's commute.

We got out at Potrero and he waited for the 22 to take him the rest of the way.
"Have a good day, Raquel," he called after me.
To which I replied, "Que te vaya bien, nos vemos."

Friday, November 09, 2018

Bus Report #1015

Last night, because I had to be at the post office before it closed, the bus took forever. Not a hyperbolic forever, an actual one. Over an hour.
I got out at Masonic and walked down to the post office, behind a guy in a face mask who stopped every few feet to take a picture of the sky. I did the same, a block later: it was peach and pink and streaked with smoke, the sun an almost neon orange. A fire sky.

Got to the post office with just a few minutes to spare, then got back on the 38 and rode up Geary to get my watch fixed.
Didn't expect to get mansplained about how to take care of my watch from the humorless watch repair guy, but he went on an on as he replaced the battery. Don't get it wet, the seal isn't as good as it used to be, you want to take good care of this, replace the battery before you need to, etc., etc.

As though I've never worn a watch before. I nodded and paid him and left, heading home via the produce market (McIntosh apples! Russian ladies laughing and jokingly speaking Spanish to me!).

This morning, last night's blood red fire sky was back, gradations of matte black, green, blue and rose against a blazing orange sun.

I walked to the bus stop coughing all the way. I know I shouldn't complain, people in the fire zones have it much worse, but that feeling of suffocating, of drowning inside your own body is so strange.

Our driver wore a face mask but I don't think it was the right kind.

Two passengers spent the entire ride squirting eye drops into their eyes. Their technique was lacking, they just aimed in the general area of their eyes with heads tilted back. 

One woman went around closing all the windows and for the first time ever, I didn't argue. I sat slumped against the side of my seat, headphones on, Dessa on repeat to get me ready for my day.

In the Castro, the cat in the window on 18th stared out at us, unimpressed but flicking his tail anyway.

By the bank, black and white photo banners of George Moscone and Harvey Milk flapped above a memorial for someone who died far too young, recently, at 28. I'm not the praying type, but he'll be in my thoughts today.

Hopped out of the bus at Potrero and walked down 16th. The sun was hiding far over to the right, a jewel-toned lychee hovering alongside the overpass.

By Philz, an odd sight: a woman smoking a cigarette, then covering her face with her scarf, then taking another drag off the cigarette. And repeat.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Bus Report #1014

Several mornings in a row, just me and the sweet Russian woman in the bus stop.
Ever since she taught me how to say good morning in Russian, I greet her with a hearty, "Dobroye utro!" and she laughs and says it back to me, and then says it in English.

Monday, the bus was late - or just didn't show up. We waited, and waited, and when the bus pulled up she tried to get me to go first. I shook my head. "Nope, it's all you," I said.

We got in, and sure enough it was crowded enough for two buses.

I sat in the back of the bus, the garlic tea woman right nearby with her noxious tea. I want to say something, I really do. But she wouldn't stop. I know she wouldn't.

The mom with the older son and the younger, probably autistic son got on, said good morning.

Later, getting out at Potrero, I had to maneuver around a man wrapped in a filthy duvet who stood in the middle of the sidewalk, twirling.

Across the street at the garage, I chatted for a moment with Jim and the younger guys who work there.

Walked the rest of the way to work, past fat crows and a pigeon so fluffy it looked like he was wearing leggings.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Bus Report #1013

This morning the sweet Russian lady with the bad knees was already in the bus stop when I walked over. She was sitting on the bench and patted the seat beside her. "Sit, sit."
"Oh, thanks, I'm okay, I sit all day," I told her, smiling.
She shook her head. "I no much English. Russian, yes."
"I don't know any Russian."
"French? You know French? My second language."
"Just Spanish," I said.
She sighed. "I no Spanish."
I tried explaining that my great-grandparents were from Russia but she didn't understand.
Before the bus arrived, I asked her how to say 'good morning' in Russian, and she told me. I won't try to spell it here, but we practiced for a moment, and then she went on to tell me how to say 'good afternoon' and 'good evening'.
We got on the bus and I wished her a Russian good morning. I'll do the same tomorrow, if I see her.
Tasha told us to hold on, and we did, and we sped off down Arguello.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Bus Report #1012

Early morning, the sky several Ed Ruscha-inspired colors - black black, charcoal black, grey black, blue black, green blue. All hovering above downtown. No stars. Just planes.

Waiting for the bus the smell of fresh croissants from the bakery across the street tempts me something awful, but they're not open yet. Good for my wallet, if not my morale.

Old man across the street opens the front door to his building and hobbles out into the entry way. Black blazer over pajama top and boxer shorts. It's too cold for that. He uses his cane to dislodge his morning paper from the mail box overflow area. He stoops low to pick it up and goes back inside. To warmth, I hope. 

Elderly Russian woman with the bad knees. Good morning, hello, knees, the same routine we do every morning. Boy is she sweet, though.

Tasha pulls up in the 33, we get in, and then there are three people on the bus: me, the Russian woman, and the garlic tea drinker. With, yes, her vile flask of garlic tea. Oof. I want to tell her to put it away. I want to grab it from her and chuck it out the window. But I don't. Maybe one day.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Bus Report #1011

The bus was empty this morning, perhaps most people got the day off?
For the beginning of my ride it was just me and the friendly Russian woman with the bad knee, with Tasha driving us.

We flew through the Haight and up the hill, and picked up the giant genie on Twin Peaks.
As always, he was the most put together person on the bus, or at least he looked that way.
Lotioned his hands, arms and head with quick twisty movements.
Flannel and jeans and tidy-looking sneakers, dopp kit on his lap, dandy brush, mustache balm and all the rest.

I noticed he'd changed his nail polish (he's been polishing with blues and greys lately) and his color almost matched mine. I caught the man sitting across from me watching as I held my hand up and looked at my nails, then over at the giant genie's, and then back at mine.

The man's got style. No dispute there.

He ate his oatmeal and I listened to a podcast. We picked up more regulars, everyone quieter and more tired-looking than usual.

When the giant genie got out at Mission, I caught a glimpse of his nails one more time - a lighter, plummier blue than what I'd thought. Still good.

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.
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.