Saturday, November 02, 2019

Bus Report #1048

A couple hours ago, I was walking back to C's house after a delightful night at the Dia de los Muertos procession and viewing of the altars in Potrero de Sol park. We were on an unusually busy block of San Bruno - costumed folks walking around, so many beautiful people, kids in tow, marigolds everywhere - when I saw a familiar smiling man standing out front one of the nearby homes.

It was my afternoon 22 Fillmore driver, the man who used to be our DHL guy. He waved, I waved, and he said, "What are you doing in my neighborhood tonight?"
I laughed. "What am I doing here? What about you?"
"Hey, I'm just living here," he said. "Nice to see you."
"You too." I asked, "This is strange but did you used to work for DHL or Airborne Express?"
He reeled back, and then grinned and tapped his temple. "I did," he said. "I knew you looked familiar when you first got on my bus. Ah. Now I do remember you."
"I recognized you, too." I held out my hand. "I'm Rachel, by the way. What's your name?"
He shook my hand. "Stephan," he said.
C., her mom and I set off walking towards her house. "I'll see you Monday, Stephan," I said.
"Yes," he said. "See you then."

Friday, October 25, 2019

Bus Report #1047

Two days in a row, sweet Olga on my bus.

Yesterday she arrived at the bus stop, wincing and pressing her hand to the small of her back.
"Oh no, did you hurt your back?" I asked her.
She shook her head. "Is no good," she said.
The bus was still far enough away that I couldn't read the signage, but Olga nodded and said, "Is three three."
"I don't know how you can see that, I can't see anything." I shook my head and waved my hands near my eyes. Rachel sign language for, I can't see anything, these things barely work.
She just grinned. "Is three three, you see now?"
And I did.

This morning Olga and I waited together for the bus, which was a couple minutes late.
I think she was trying to teach me some French but I didn't understand.
"No English," she said.
"No French, no Russian," I said.
We laughed and stood there together, and waited.

Yesterday afternoon, 22 Fillmore. The nice driver who used to be our delivery guy stopped and I got on. the bus was fairly empty for that time of the evening - but no one was complaining.

At Potrero Center a man got on carrying a dog bed and a huge bag from the store. As we rode down 16th I watched him take everything out of the bag and go through it on the seat beside him.
They were really cute little outfits - rompers and something with a hood and bunny ears, and a little yellow rain slicker. For his child? No, I realized a moment later. They were dog outfits. He was carefully going through about ten dog outfits in various sizes.
I couldn't figure it out. Were they for him, and his dogs? Dogs of a friend? How many outfits does a dog need?
At Mission Street he packed everything back up, and disappeared into the plaza and down into BART.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Bus Report #1046

Assuming the worst (late bus) I lingered over my tea this morning, the NextBus web page refreshing itself on my laptop nearby. I was planning for the late bus so when NextBus told me my regular bus was actually on the schedule, I gulped the tea, grabbed my bag and crammed my feet into my shoes.

I was out the door and most of the way down the block in a minute.

Clement street was dark, and damp, a peachy pink sunrise coming up over the buildings down in Laurel Heights.

At the bus stop I caught up with the woman from St. Mary's and with Alain, who decided not to take his bike to work today.
He'd been planning to make bagels a couple weeks ago. I asked how it went.
"They were... how do you say it? Too thin? And you were right, you have to boil them before you bake."
"But were they good?" I asked.
"Very good."

When the bus arrived it was already crowded. The woman who drinks that awful, awful garlic tea sat in her usual spot, steaming Thermos of tea in front of her.

We sped through the neighborhood, coasted down Haight Street. Did everyone else sleep in this morning? When will it be my turn?

Regulars hopped on, and other folks - a shuffling old man in dirty clothes, who slumped into the seat across from me. Another man, in a dusty sweatshirt, his haircut uneven, sat in front of me for most of the ride.

No sign of the giant genie, none of the sewing ladies who usually get on at Mission.

The dueling tamale sellers* on Mission Street sold their tamales, the woman surrounded by day laborers and kids on their way to school. The man sells Nicaraguan tamales, nacatamales, and one of these days I plan to get one from him. Love those. For every three customers the woman has, he has just one.

*I've never actually seen any dueling, but they station themselves about 6 feet apart on the sidewalk, so they could start at any moment...

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Bus Report #1045

This morning I got to the bus stop early. No one else was waiting. The street was quiet and still dark, the light only just starting to filter in over the tops of the middle school across the street.

The boy on the skateboard zoomed over. I used to think he lived in the apartment with the wetsuit landing, but he actually lives two doors down. He nodded at me in acknowledgement, our usual morning greeting.
He sat on the bench and we both watched another man pick up a sodden, discarded vest, try it on, and then repeat the process with a ratty wet sweatshirt. The last clothing item in the pile was a pair of khakis.
I am not the praying type but I bargained with the universe to keep him from trying on the pants. Someone, or something, heard my plea.

A moment later, someone on a bike whizzed around the corner. It was the Frenchman.
Alain smiled and waved and kept on riding. Good for him, I thought. He probably got to work before my bus even left its departure point.

Much later, after work, I walked to catch the 22. On the corner the staff from our neighborhood greasy spoon were gathered outside. I thought they were just chatting when I saw what had drawn them out - a tree had come down right outside the restaurant, hitting the owner's truck before falling diagonally into the street.

"When did that happen?" I asked.
Nasser just shook his head. "It just came down a little while ago. I can't believe it."
"Jeez, good luck," I said.
The bus rounded the corner. Ah well, I'd catch the next one.
But then the driver stopped, and honked, leaned out the window and gestured for me to get on board.
Three cheers for wonderful drivers! It was the man who used to be our delivery guy.
I said goodbye to the restaurant guys and hurried across the street.
On the bus everyone was looking at the downed tree.
"Check it out," said a scruffy guy with blond hair and filthy jeans.
"Right?" I made my way to the back of the bus and sat down.

The bus was quiet, everyone on their phones or listening to music. A couple got on, holding a bag between them. The bag moved. I looked closer: a little grey cat looked out through the mesh side of the bag. Meowed.

Bus Report #1044

Three days in a row waiting for the 33 with the woman who works at St. Mary's. We spend half the time wondering if the bus is late or if the bus apps are wrong, the other half of the time chatting about traveling.

"Have you seen that foreign guy?" she asked yesterday.
"Not in a while," I replied.

Just as the bus pulled up, Olga tottered across the street, leaning on her cane.
"Right on time," I said, grinning. She smiled back and climbed on board.

The mom with the sweet sons was already seated with the kids, the little boy nestled against her side. Sitting still, smiling and staring off into the distance. The older boy chugged from his water bottle and played with his mother's phone.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Bus Report #1043

This morning was cool and dark but the peach-pink sunrise told me it was going to be a warm day.
My walk to the bus stop was full of "Miss Rachel's Neighborhood" moments, as M. used to always tease.

Joan was in the donut shop, sitting in the window, and she smiled and waved as I passed by. I grinned at her and waved back.

I stopped to chat with the delivery guy at Schubert's as he unloaded sacks of flour from his truck. He is a petite guy and those bags must outweigh him a bit. "How are you this morning, miss?" he asked, piling another bag onto his dolly.
"Good, good, and you?"
"Oh, I'm just fine, miss. You have a great day."
"See you later," I replied.

I waved to the friendly Recology guy with his headlamp and thick glasses. He swung a pair of black trash cans down from the truck like it was nothing. "Hey there," he said.

The skateboard kid who takes the bus with me down to Valencia stepped out his front door, board in hand, and we said "hey" before he took off on his board to the bus stop.

The bus was early. The driver said, "Hey, welcome back, you been on vacation?"
I just laughed. "I wish."

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Bus Report #1042

This morning, some excitement while waiting for the bus.
I turned the corner and walked to the bus stop, and then noticed water, everywhere.
Water coursing down the street, but from where?
Just up ahead, by the middle school, a geyser of epic proportions. Water shot up from the ground, up to the second story of the building. Never ending. Like a waterfall, in the heart of the city.

There was a police car there already, not that the cop could do anything.
Several of us (me, a kid walking a dog, some folks from the gym) watched and marveled.

A firetruck roared down Arguello a moment later, screeched to a stop in front of the school.
The firefighters were head to toe in gear. At first they watched the water spurting from what looked like a damaged fire hydrant, and then two of them ducked into the water.
In the early morning light they looked shrouded in mist even as the water pounded down upon them.

Olga slowly crossed the street, leaning on her cane. We greeted each other in English, in Russian, and stared and pointed at the firefighters' progress. She said, "Is like riviera. River?"
"Yes," I agreed. "The San Francisco Riviera."
She laughed.

On the bus, the mom with the two sons sat with the kids in the front by the driver. The older boy jumped up and pointed at the unusual scene.

"Looks like a broken um, water thing," I said, rummaging in my bag for my Clipper Card.
"Hydrant?" he offered.
"Yeah, hydrant."

As we pulled away from the curb we all stared at the firefighters, still trying to shut off the water.

I hope they got it done, and that the school isn't drenched inside.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Bus Report #1041

Yesterday I caught the 33 with the Frenchman.
He said, "You were right, I think they changed the schedule."
"Yep, it's annoying," I replied as we got on the bus.
"I don't need to be at work at 7," he said.
"Me either, have a great day!" and we sat down and settled in for our commutes. It wasn't 7 when I got to work, luckily, but it was still early.

After work I ran errands before meeting up with some friends at Oasis Cafe on Divisadero. I caught the 24 on Castro and sat in the back, headphones on, sunglasses on.
A woman stomped onto the bus and sat behind me. I heard her say something loudly, couldn't figure out what it was. I took off my headphones and said, "I'm sorry, what's that?"
I told her and put my headphones back on.
She proceeded to loudly talk at everyone else, gesticulating wildly, and yelled at the driver a few times. Everyone sat silently. Looked away from her. Aggressively looked away from her, if that's a thing.

I got out at Hayes and went to Rare Device, then walked the rest of the way to Oasis.

This morning the sky was a beautiful peach-orange-pink-grey-blue, an Ed Ruscha Los Angeles sky. I know what that means, we're in a heat wave.

No one at the bus stop when I arrived, but just before the bus turned the corner, Olga toddled up on her cane. We greeted each other in English and then I said good morning in my bad Russian.

We smiled and giggled at each other and I pointed to the bus. "You're right on time!"

I got out at my usual stop, said hi to the guys at the garage.

Got to work before the heat started.

Stay cool today, folks!