Friday, September 22, 2017

Bus Report #992

Muni Heritage Weekend was a couple weekends ago, and C. and I went to check it out.
We took a 1 California down to Embarcadero, sat in the back.
We'd been sitting apart from each other, talking over our seatmates, until a nice man switched seats with me so we could sit and chat together.

For a few blocks, we had an absolutely adorable little blond kiddo as a fellow passenger.
He couldn't have been much older than three or four, blond bowl haircut, little blue t-shirt, cute.
Riding the bus was too much for this little guy - his excitement was uncontainable.
He wriggled in his seat, and smiled, and hopped up and down, and couldn't stop giggling and pointing at everything in the bus. His joy was infectious and those of us in the back of the bus could not help smiling and laughing at his pure, pure excitement.

The Railway Museum was mobbed with Muni workers and fans, and there were several vintage Muni buses and streetcars on display.

I thought I was a Muni fan, but I was nothing compared to some of the people there! We spoke with a man who had traveled from Pennsylvania to attend, and to some other transit buffs from around the Bay Area. These folks were laden with cameras and they knew the specs of each bus and streetcar there.
C. called them "foamers" - because they supposedly foam at the mouth when they see the objects of their devotion; the buses, the streetcars.

We rode a vintage bus - and I can't tell you much about it except that it was cool, and maybe from the 70s (?). The driver wore a jaunty cap. I told him I liked the Red Sox enamel badge pinned to it.

We tried, twice, to flag down my favorite streetcar, the boat car! But both times it was already full to capacity.

Instead, we rode Car No. 1, a streetcar dating back to 1912. How fun! I loved the woven straw seats and the friendly conductors. The car didn't even have a fare box, so the tourists trying to pay for their rides were out of luck in that sense, but perfectly lucky to get a ride on such a beautiful streetcar.

All in all, a fun adventure. I recommend everyone go next year!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Bus Report #991

Sunday afternoon on the holiday weekend, on my way to join the Teacher's Pet at Zine Fest.
I walked down to California and 8th to wait for the 44 O'Shaughnessy. Normally I would have walked but the heat. Oh, the heat.

The bus was running late. The only other people waiting for the bus were a big-for-her-age but very young teenage girl and a sunburned, tattooed man with two tattered backpacks.

The girl leaned out of the bus shelter and saw me, and immediately began talking. I couldn't figure out if she was just chatty, or if there was something slightly off with her - but she was sweet. She couldn't believe how late the bus was, shaking her head and giggling. She had a pretty smile that stretched the length of her round moon face.
"He's late and he was supposed to be here ten minutes ago and how can they do this when it's so damn hot out?" she said. She rambled on about the heat. Cursed a lot. Still, I looked at her and thought, sweet girl.

The man nodded. "Yeah, it's hot, but it isn't Belize in the rainy season hot."

I've been to Central America during the rainy season, though not to Belize, but I agreed with him.
He told the girl about the rain and the steam and humidity, about how wet everything got. How wet it stayed.

"We learned to basically take a cold shower in our clothes and then lie down in bed, and just sort of hope we'd fall asleep before they dried out."

The girl was hooked. "For real?" she said. "That's crazy."

He went on. He'd moved his whole family down there for two years; wife, three kids. It sounded idyllic at first. Big house on an even bigger plot of land. Farm animals corralled near the house. Wild animals out in the forest. Coconuts in the trees, and his little son would shimmy up the tree to get coconuts for his mother. No electronic gadgets for the kids, so that they grew to love and respect their Belizean friends and let go of some of the trappings of modern-day life in the States.
But then he said something that made me think we weren't getting the full story. "My youngest," he said, "She'd be about oh, ten or eleven now."

He went on, describing how he and his buddies had dealt with poachers on their land, about the kids learning Spanish.

"Those were the best two years of my life," he told us. "It was sort of... It was like the end of our life as a family, but it was also the best time for all of us."

The girl grew quiet. Sipped water from her water bottle.

"We split up," he said. "My wife and I... We still love each other, you know? But it was like mixing fire and gasoline. A real beautiful explosion, but, an explosion nonetheless. And with my addiction..."
Here he trailed off for a moment.
I felt for him. Felt for his wife, his kids. For their perfect two years in Belize.

"Anyway, we came back and I haven't seen them in oh, three years? But, you know, the love is still there."

I nodded. Right then, the 44 pulled up and a moment later we got on the bus, followed by a tourist family, cameras swinging from their necks.

The man got out at 6th and Clement. Strange.

The girl stayed on, chatting loudly on her phone for the duration of my ride.

The next morning, on the way downtown, the 2 Clement was empty for the first 20 minutes of my ride. Unusual. The driver and I kept catching each other's eyes in the mirror.

Off of Polk Street, a cheery sight - silky pink curtains with a matching pink rug hanging out of the window of the Merit Hotel.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Bus Report #990

We're getting dangerously close to my 1,000 bus report, friends. Keep checking back in for info on a celebration I am planning, to which you will all be invited.

Meanwhile, back on the bus after a short vacation...

Last night, everyone (well, not everyone, but several people) on the 38R were either nodding out standing up, or sitting down. It was incredibly odd considering it was normal commute time. I stood out of the way and watched as a couple almost fell down several times. The woman sitting in front of me kept a loose hold on her unlit cigarette as she bobbed forward, lurched back, bobbed forward again.

The bus was packed the entire commute. Other than the folks nodding off, there were students in their new back to school clothes, tourists, out-of-towners. The strap of my bag pulled at my coat and sweater, exposing my star of David and my hamsa necklace. The people standing around me were probably just zoning out into space like I was, but for the first time in a long while, I felt a little uneasy. I can honestly say that before the most recent inauguration, I've never felt like a real target in my own country before. But I do now. After a few minutes, I pulled the neck of my sweater up. 

Several hours later, on another 38, an adorably sleepy, chubby baby flopped on his mama's lap, blinking at me in the harsh Muni light. Too cute.

This morning on the 33, the giant genie reappeared after his summer off. A little tanner, a little leaner. But he's still got his routine. Lotion, beard and mustache wax, dandy comb. A routine I can get behind.

At Mission and 16th, our driver honked at the woman who sells tamales on the corner and held up her fingers, two tamales, please. The woman stepped up on the bus and swapped a paper bag of food for a few dollars.

Around the corner Mauricio waited for the 55. He caught my eye through the window, grinned, and waved. I waved back.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Bus Report #989

This morning, quiet on the 33.
When we got to Castro and 18th, I could see flashing lights up ahead. More than one set. Uh oh.
We drove slowly down the street. At Church and 18th, the corner closest to Dolores Park was taped off with yellow CAUTION tape, and there were several emergency vehicles and first responders clustered around someone who was flat on their back on the sidewalk.
The paramedics were doing chest compressions on the person, cops milling around, rubberneckers standing right up against the tape.
I hoped the person would be okay. It was scary to watch.

In the front of our bus, most people were face down in their phones, oblivious.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Bus Report #988

The bus was late or early today, depending on which bus you were waiting for. I was waiting for my usual, which was on time, but a handful of other semi-regulars had been waiting for the earlier bus, which was a no show.
I smiled, nodded at the nurse and at the axe body spray guy.
We got on and our bus sailed off down Arguello.

Haight Street was emptier than I've ever seen it, except for a flock of birds eating a huge mound of compost near Whole Foods. Not a person in sight.

Later, somewhere between 16th and Mission and my stop, a homeless man in the front of the bus carefully put on a wool cap, and then a turquoise baseball hat over it, and then a beige baseball hat over that.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Bus Report #987

Odds and ends.

Last night, on the 10 Townsend:

A woman reading The Marriage Plot - I wanted to intervention her right then and there, but she only had a few pages left, so I didn't. I wanted to implore her to read anything else - especially anything else by Eugenides. Despite my deep dislike of the book, I still wanted to dissect the story and characters with her. She got out by Caltrain. An older woman carrying a beautiful bouquet of orange flowers took her seat.

We passed a cafe on 2nd Street that I thought offered enigmatic coffee, but it turned out I'd just read the sign wrong. It served organic coffee.

This morning a creepy guy got on my 33 at Castro. He stood in the doorway and stared at the driver, then shrugged his shoulders as if to say, I am riding this bus, even though I don't have bus fare. The driver let him on.

He planted himself in the aisle, hovering above my seat and the seat behind me. It was unnerving. He chewed ice cubes from a plastic cup, and stared at me and the people behind me.

I tightened my grip on my bag. I did that thing you do (because public transit riders do this, don't we?) where you put on your ugliest, most disinterested face. I squished against the window and tried to make myself disappear.

Of course, he decided to sit next to me, still shaking ice cubes into his mouth, and hunching forward, and occasionally shooting a glance over at me. I watched him out of the corner of my eye. If he tried anything - made a grab for my bag, or touched me - I was ready to give him hell.

He lurched forward, sideways. He ate more ice cubes. At Mission Street he thrust his hand out, his fingers grazing my arm, and then he hopped off the bus. Ugh.

When I got off the bus and crossed the street, I ran in to Frank from the garage. We chatted for a minute, the usual pleasantries, and how's your summer going, and the conversation fixed me right up. Creepy creeper on the bus, completely sloughed off.

A few blocks later, a 22 Fillmore sailed past me as I walked to work. The Roche Bobois guy sat in a window seat, and we waved at each other.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Bus Report #986

Clement Street has gone to the birds, again.

The neighborhood crows shriek like insane babies. They strut down the street, or chase the seagulls, or they stare at me from their perches atop recycle bins and storefront awnings.

The seagulls shout back. They're out of their element away from the water, but food is food and they fight the crows, the pigeons, the little black birds for the compost and trash strewn around the street.

There are young pigeons, too. Newly hatched with perfectly intact, bright red feet. fluffy feathers on their heads where you can still sometimes see a pinfeather or two. They are unafraid of me as I walk to the bus stop. They haven't learned to fear people yet.

Near the bus stop someone has put out a bag of old clothes. For Goodwill? For recycling or trash? Because it's all trash now. A man empties the bag onto the sidewalk and begins sorting through it. I don't think any of the old cardigans and thigh-high boots will fit him. None of my business, though.

The bus arrives on time, our humorless new driver almost - ALMOST! cracking a smile.