Saturday, July 15, 2017

Bus Report #984

Summer time, which means so many of the Muni regulars are on vacation.
The rest of us greet each other sleepily in the mornings, and, I suppose, sleepily in the evenings.
The dad with the extra adorable toddler.
The pretty older woman with the dark sunglasses.
Mauricio, who always saves me a seat, or waves to me if my bus passes him at 16th and Mission.
The woman who is always running to catch her 38R. Yesterday morning, she told me, as she ran past, that she hasn't missed her bus in weeks.
The big guy who sits sprawled out in an aisle seat on the 22 in the afternoons, who won't look me in the face but who always makes room for me to take the window seat.
The nurse who works at St. Mary's, who is only on my 33 when she's running late.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Bus Report #983

Yesterday morning a man got on our 33, swinging three backpacks and juggling several cans of soup in his arms. He sat down in the front of the bus and rolled the soups between his hands, mumbling all the while,  for the duration of his ride.

He stumbled from the bus in the Upper Haight, and in doing so dropped one of his backpacks on the bus. He started walking away, and the driver shut the door, so I said, "excuse me, driver, his backpack's still here."
She opened the door and I called over to him. "Sir, your backpack, do you want me to throw it over to you?"
He looked confused, smiled and then shrugged. "No."
"You don't want your backpack? Are you sure?"
"No, no." And he walked away.

In the mirror, the driver and I exchanged glances, both of us confused and wary at the same time.
"Do you want me to throw it off the bus or something?" I asked her.
She shook her head. "Leave it. Someone else will do something with it along the route."
Well, okay.

For the rest of the ride, people stepped around the backpack, or stared at it, or tried to locate its owner sitting elsewhere on the bus. It was old and raggedy, obviously a second or third hand backpack. But it had belonged to the man just a few minutes earlier.

When it was my turn to get out, the bag was still there.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Bus Report #982

The bus has been mostly uneventful lately. Quiet, disengaged drivers, silent passengers, nothing out of the ordinary.

Except last night.

A man got on the 10 Townsend by the ballpark. He moved to the back of the bus and started fidgeting with something in his hands. I thought he was rolling a joint, at least that's what it looked like.

He kept glancing back at the woman sitting in the back row, behind him.

Finally she asked if he wanted to sit back there, and he did, so she moved to the front of the bus and he settled back into her seat.

I spaced out, listening to a radio show, and didn't give the man a second thought until we got to Folsom Street. The man was staring straight ahead, his mouth slightly open. His hand was in his pants and there was no way to ignore what he was doing.

Rush hour, 10 Townsend bus, backseat masterbator.


I got out at the next stop. Didn't say anything to our driver, and I'm still wondering if I should have said something.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Bus Report #981

Living in a post-Leon as our morning driver world, sigh.
The new driver is fine - but he is slow as can be, and not very friendly.
We don't all need to be best buddies, but sheesh.

Arsicault Bakery has been teasing me all week with the scent of their delicious buttery croissants wafting from the kitchen out onto the street where I wait for the 33 in the mornings. Heavenly.

The other day there was a woman on the bus with the most magnificent shoes. Oh, how I loved those shoes. I could not stop staring.
They were grey and black, with a small split at the front and a small heel. I can't do them justice, just know they were beautiful.
She wore them with cute socks. Oh, man. Those were some fabulous shoes.

Mauricio was on my bus on Tuesday morning. He even slid over into the window seat for me.
"Raquel, where have you been lately?" he said, and we chatted for a bit in Spanish and English, as we do, until it was time for me to get out at my stop.

Last night Muni out of Potrero Hill was a mess, because of the terrible shooting at UPS (and the earlier street closings and reroutes).
There were a lot of irritated people waiting for buses, and then on the bus, too, when we were finally able to board.
But I wasn't complaining. I was thinking about all the UPS folks, and hoping our guys were all safe (they are, thankfully).
 It was strange to see the building with police officers standing guard. Yellow caution tape trailed along the sidewalk and some of the tent campers had already taken the tape and wrapped it around their tents (as an aside - I can't believe they weren't evacuated/moved away from the scene. I really don't get it).

Our UPS friends and neighbors were back at work this morning - everything seemingly back to normal as I walked to work from the bus stop.

I'm going to shill for myself/for a good cause for a minute - tomorrow night is the 5th Anniversary of the Lit Camp Basement Series reading series at Sports Basement on Bryant (accessible by Muni via the 10, 22, 33, 27, 9, 9L, 12 and probably other lines I'm not remembering).

It is a fundraiser, too, to raise money for Lit Camp scholarships. The theme tomorrow night is Strange Travel Suggestions and I will be one of their readers. You should come, and introduce yourself if you do. It is a great cause and I think we'll have a lot of fun. Information can be found on their Facebook page, here.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Bus Report #980

On the 22 Fillmore this afternoon:
A woman requested the lift for her stroller, something which bothers me when the stroller is a light, foldable umbrella model. It is just so much faster to lift those on board, even if you need to ask for help.
She and her stroller get on the bus and I see that she isn't pushing a baby in it, but a ginger cat.
It is a covered animal stroller.
She maneuvers into a seat near the front, opens the mesh cover on the stroller, and lifts out an (admittedly) very cute ginger cat. But still.

Later, waiting for the 38, a couple is lost, wandering in the Fillmore bus stop, asking everyone for directions. Several people shrug, or point across the street, or just shake their heads.

The couple stares at the map in the bus shelter, tracing the red bus lines up the map towards Marin.

I take off my headphones. "Are you trying to get somewhere?" I ask them.

They turn to me and hold up their phones. The husband says, "The 92, it's supposed to stop here but there's no sign for it."

Hmmm. "Yeah, it does sometimes stop here, hold on, let me check." I pull up Swiftly on my phone. No joy. But I'm sure the bus stops there.

"Are you going to Marin? I know you can catch that bus further up on Geary if not here."

"We're going here," the wife said, pointing at the bridge.

"Just to the bridge? Not to Sausalito or anything?"

Just to the bridge.

"Oh, no problem, then. Take the 38 to Park Presidio, switch to the 28, then you can see the bridge, take some pictures and then head back."

The husband nodded. "Ah. We've taken the 38 downtown but never in this direction. Thanks."

A 38L pulled up, my regular 38 right behind it. "You can take either one." I said.

Bus Report #979

Last night, the 22 smelled like pot, rose water, and Chock Full O' Nuts coffee. The three odors mixed and mingled until they became one very, very strong scent. Even with the windows open, there was no avoiding it.

A man sitting across from me passed his friend an unlit (but very pungent) joint. Then he pulled stacks of (stolen?) Macy's and Starbucks and Red Lobster gift cards from his bag and flipped through them. He had watches, too, several boxes of watches, and tried to sell the cards and the watches to everyone sitting nearby.

I declined to buy any of his merchandise.

On the 38, a woman with bright pink hair held a paper plate heavy with frosted cake. The cake was topped with strawberries, sprinkles, and dozens of Pocky sticks just... bunched up on the top, like fireplace kindling.

The cake looked, on one hand, absolutely delicious, and on the other hand, completely disgusting. She was on the phone and her voice was so annoying I wanted to grab the phone and toss it out the window. Even with the volume on my music turned all the way up, I could still hear her.
I wasn't alone. One of her seatmates wore big headphones but still held her palms pressed over her ears - to drown out the girl's voice, I assumed.

Thankfully she got out at Presidio.

Quiet reigned on the 38 for the rest of the commute.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Bus Report #978

A normal Friday morning before a long weekend. The bus was empty when Leon pulled up, but soon we took on more passengers, mostly regulars: The man who works for PG&E, the OCD religious mom and her cute daughter, several women who ride down to Valencia and a few solemn construction workers.

Just after the turn from Arguello onto Fulton, our bus stopped- just went dead. A hazard of the electric buses. Leon got out to take the poles down for a minute, to try to restart, and then he came back on board and tried to get the bus going again. He tried to restart a handful of times, to no avail.

"Sorry, folks," he said. "I think we may be out of service but I'm going to try again. worse case, you can sit tight right here and wait for the next coach to arrive, which should be here soon."

He tried again. Nada. He called Central, and they 'helpfully' told him to do all the restart things he had already tried. He held the black handset to his ear and repeated that he'd already done that, and then he told them where we were stalled. They didn't seem to understand, so he told them again.

He hung up and then walked half way through the bus to talk to all of us.

"Sorry, everyone, for the inconvenience. Sometimes this kind of thing happens but I know its frustrating, you've all got to get to work, or to school," at this, he looked at the little girl. "And those guys downtown, they're nice people... But some of them, they've never driven a bus in their lives, and they're not from here so they have no idea where we are right now. Asking me to take down my poles... Of course I'm going to try that first!" we all laughed as he shook his head at their inadequate response.

Something lovely happened next.

The OCD religious mom asked him what his favorite route was. He responded, "the 33, probably, cause it's mellow and pretty and hits so many neighborhoods. For a while I was nervous about it - about that turn onto Market - but now I can just do it so smoothly, I don't mind. Lots of drivers have that same fear, you don't even know. The 22's okay, too - always busy though, no downtime." He leaned up against one of the poles and shoved his hands in his pockets. "I have one regular, a man who's lived here 30 years, and he only just started taking my bus. He said he loved it because of all the views and what not. You know - some of you, like Rachel and like you, young lady," and he pointed at one of the regulars sitting in the front, "You've known me for years on this line. So you know me, I'm easy going unless someone tries to hassle me or my passengers. Cause you know, it's my job to make sure you're all getting around safely."

He went on. "You know, all of you, next week's my last week with y'all, I'm switching lines."

A collective, "oh no!" passed through everyone on the bus.

The little girl asked, "Will we ever see you again?" Poor kid, she sounded so distraught!

Leon smiled. "Hopefully, in the fall, when school's back and there are more open runs."

He looked past us to see what buses were coming up behind ours, and he jumped to action.

"Here's your coach, everybody. I'm going to go signal for him to pull right on up. Let's go."

Like kids following our pied piper, we got out and waited for Leon to flag the bus down. When it was time for us to get on he told us we didn't need to tag our Clippers again, and that he apologized again and hoped we'd all have a great day.

The little girl and her mom told him, "God bless you," and he waved at us as the bus rounded the corner and headed down into the Haight.

Have a grand holiday weekend, all!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Bus Report #977

Sunny morning, with sunny people.

I waved good morning to the friendly Russian woman, stopped to talk with Joan, who just returned from vacation in Mexico. She urged me to go, said I'd like the dry heat, the food, etc.
I told her I was glad she'd had a good trip, and I kept walking.

The 33 was empty when I got on. "Good morning, miss Rachel," Leon said, drawing out the word miss so it sounded more like 'miiiiiiiizzzzzz' and I laughed and said good morning back, kidded with him a little.

Regular and semi-regular passengers piled on, got out at their usual stops. The obsessively religious woman and her poor little daughter. The mean-face trainee nurse. The tall, stately woman with her wool socks pulled halfway up her calves. The spiky-haired older gentlemen with his stovepipe jeans folded just so above his boots.

The Hayes Street ladies ran to catch the bus, but they didn't have to run - Leon always waits for his regulars.

In the Haight, we crawled up Ashbury behind a slow bicyclist. Such a slow bicyclist.

The giant genie got on at a stop before his usual. He sat down in the front of the bus and began his lotion and beard maintenance routine.

In the Castro, a man wearing a thin pair of white sweat pants over his jeans got on, clutching the front of the sweats, which bulged with... I had no idea. He sat down and pulled a pile of leaves and sticks, and crumpled newspaper, and a bottle of something from out the front of the pants. He spent the rest of the ride carefully wrapping the sticks and leaves in the paper, and shoving everything back into his pants.

All was well until we got to Mission and 16th.

Leon opened the doors and people got out, got on.

A tall man in a brimmed hat (what is it called? Like Gilligan wore?) and carrying a dirty blanket, started to get on the bus.

Leon stood up and shook his head. "No, you can't come on the bus, especially not with that blanket."

"I'll fold it. I gotta get to the hospital," the man whined.

"I've told you before, you can't get on this bus," Leon said.

The man angrily threw the blanket onto the street and got on the bus, sat a couple rows behind me.

Leon stood his ground. The man could not ride on the bus, not after a previous altercation.

The man continued to whine about getting to the hospital, but soon stopped whining - growing aggressive instead.

The sweat pants man looked at him. "I'll get you to the hospital," he muttered. "I'll get you there."

After some more back and forth, threats from the angry man, firm statements from Leon, the angry man resorted to the lowest of insults.

"I'll beat your ass, n____," he said. He stormed to the front of the bus, this tall, angry man towering above Leon, still threatening to hurt him.

Leon tried to calm him down. The man kept lunging at him.

"Everyone get off the bus, for your safety," Leon told us.

We started to get out. I got my phone out of my bag and got ready to call 911. Meanwhile, Leon had picked up his phone to call for help, too.

We all stood there, frozen, watching. I know some of the others were thinking the same as I was - that Leon might need witnesses if anything happened.

After a tense few moments the man got out and wandered down the sidewalk. In the opposite direction a police car was coming by. Leon leaned on the horn and got their attention.

He told the cops what was going on and they did a quick U turn, pulled up by the Victoria Theater and got out to talk to the guy. By then, we were all back in our seats.

The sweat pants man had gotten out of the bus and was now inspecting the dirty blanket discarded by the angry man.

We left the guy with the cops, who stood in front of him, pulling on their blue rubber gloves.

Leon drove to the next stop and pulled over. He turned around.
"I'm so sorry you had to witness that, everybody. Everyone okay?"
We all nodded.
He looked at a little girl and her grandma. He said, "And I'm sorry if that scared you, little one, are you all right?"
The girl nodded.
"That guy has been trouble before," he continued. "I had to call the police on him a few weeks ago."

We rolled on. When I got out, I told him I hoped he has a hassle-free day.
He laughed. "You know, so many people don't understand what we have to deal with on a daily basis." he shook his head. "You have a good day, too."