Thursday, August 06, 2015

Bus Report #887

I can't hear a thing these days - too many years going to shows sans earplugs. I have to watch TV with the closed-captioning on, read lips in loud places.
But with my headphones on and the sound cranked up, I am just fine.
Today I took the 33 Ashbury, Bruce Springsteen shouting into my ears at top volume.
Russian woman on the phone in front of me, per usual.
Man with too much cologne, a few rows back.
I opened the windows, stared at a greasy spot against the otherwise clean windowpane.
Bus rattled down Arguello to Fulton, Fulton to Stanyan, the park early morning quiet, shrouded in fog.
People rolling up their sleeping bags. Trash strewn all across the entrance of the park. Welcome, welcome everyone.
Two men zoned out, standing still yet weaving in place anyway in front of McDonald's.
Further down Haight, people loading veggies and fruit into the bins out front Haight Street Market.
Beautiful red tomatoes. Golden butternut squash shaming me and the months' old squash lurking in my kitchen cabinet.
Dude in a car refusing to move for the bus to turn. Bus honking. Honking.
Car slowly backs up, more honking, backs up some more.
Last night's dreams slowly seeping back in to my consciousness. People I haven't thought of in years. Actors from long-ago canceled television shows. The warm weather making me sweat even as I still shiver in my jacket.

The Boss tells me he's on fire just as the bus hits the hairpin turn on to 18th.

In the Castro, a trash can actually is on fire - smoking smoking on the corner of 18th and Castro.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Bus Report #886

The other night, coming home on the 1 California.
Our driver was a ginger-haired, blue-pale man with a deep voice.
When we hit Fillmore he came over the P.A., said, "Faaabulous Fillmore, everyone. This is the stop for fabulous Fillmore."
I giggled.
My seat mate, a woman with curly hair and bright red lipstick, a shy smile, said, "Sometimes, a little too fabulous for me."
"Me, too," I said, taking off my headphones. "Well, too fabulous for my wallet most of the time, anyway."
"Yes," she said, nodding. "Yes, for me, too."

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bus Report #885

Thank you to all the new folks who stopped by yesterday, your visit and comments are much appreciated.

Last night I dawdled at work a little longer than usual and then walked out to catch the 22 Fillmore.
The bus was crowded when it arrived. I sat in a rear-facing seat at the back of the bus - something I don't mind but that is often a bit disorienting to me.

Sitting across from me was a person in black overalls, black boots and a black denim jacket. Gender not obvious to me. They had tattoos on their hand - one in cursive that read: Auntie, and another that was the outline of a tooth. They spent the bulk of the ride on the phone, laughing, eyes wide and bright.

The bus filled up. At Bryant we idled for over five minutes but I wasn't sure why.
One man who had been sitting in the back row of seats sighed loudly and then bolted to his feet.
"Let me out," he growled, pushing his way through the other passengers to the door.

We rolled, slowly, down 16th and then up Church to Fillmore.

The man who always yells at buses on the corner of Church and Duboce was not there to yell at us, maybe he needed a day off.

A couple of guys got on at Turk and flopped in to the seats across from me. One of them looked so much like someone I used to know, he could have been his slightly beefier twin. The twin had a freshly trimmed beard and a baseball cap. His friend had a mop of curly hair (an expression I never use but which is perfect to describe this guy) and looked like an old friend from college. They kidded around with each other and chatted, gazed out the windows to get their bearings.

At Fillmore and Geary I ran for the 38 - there were two regulars and a limited - oops, I mean a 'rapid' - but just as I got to the stop the buses all pulled away.
The two guys who had been sitting across from me ran over, too, and started yelling at the drivers and thumping the sides of the leaving buses. They shook their heads in disbelief.
The three of us caught our breaths. "There's another couple buses coming," I said, pointing down Geary.
"Good," said the man with the curly hair. "That was just wrong."
"Happens all the time," said the twin.
"It's been a crazy week on Muni," I said.

A 38R pulled up and then a regular 38 pulled up in front of it.
They got on the 38R and I got on the regular.
It was a quiet and fast ride the rest of the way home. 

Back in my neighborhood I bought tomatoes at the produce market, as I do almost daily during tomato season. The proprietor, a petite older man with thick glasses, smiled at me and said, "I know you getting the tomatoes. You always getting them."

"It's true," I said, handing him my tomatoes to get weighed.

As I left the shop, he and his wife waved goodbye.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bus Report #884


Tonight on the 19 Polk:

NextBus was down and I couldn’t get updated schedule info for the bus, so I walked out to the stop a few minutes earlier than usual just in case.
The 4:47 PM bus never showed up and the 5:02 PM showed up at 5:10.
It was crowded so I sat beside a girl who took up too much space in the seat. I tried to slide further into the seat but she refused to budge.
We slowly, slowly made our way through the roundabout and down 7th Street. Behind me, a man yelled in to his cell phone. “Wait outside. Just wait there. Someone will be along soon and then you can go in and sit on the steps.”

At Civic Center, a tourist couple got on with their suitcases. The woman sat down but her husband stood in the aisle beside the suitcases. They almost blocked the door but not quite.
At the very next stop, two homeless men got on with their even larger suitcases, bulging backpacks, a foam bedroll, a garment bag and a duffel bag. This maneuver took the span of three light cycles and when they were finally on the bus they were completely blocking the stairwell and one of the men’s backpacks knocked a seated woman on the head and then rested on her shoulder for the duration.
The girl with the backpack on her shoulder did nothing. Just sat there and put up with it.

The man held the bedroll above his head, pressed up against the ceiling.
Ridiculous, honestly.
The driver didn’t say anything. Instead, he warned a man in the front of the bus to stop swearing. “There are kids on this bus,” The driver said. There were no kids on our bus.

The tourist couple laughed and laughed and the wife took a few pictures of the craziness with her phone.

We turned on to Geary and that was when all hell broke loose.
The driver shouted for the swearing man to get off the bus, which triggered a fit of swearing and fighting. Nothing really printable here. It sounded like there was a scuffle going on in the front of the bus but I couldn’t see anything.
The suitcase guys wrestled all of their luggage onto the sidewalk.
Meanwhile, a bicyclist rode up to the driver’s window and said something to him, then thumped the side of the bus a few times, hard.
The swearing man, now standing on the sidewalk freaking out, slammed his hand against the door several times.
“Why isn’t our driver just leaving?” I grumbled to my seatmate, a 27-year old woman who’d recently had a birthday, according to the info she’d just given to her credit card company over her cell phone.
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I take this bus every night and it is never this bad.”
The woman in front of us, the one the man’s backpack had been resting on, turned around. “This is seriously bad,” she said.

The bus shot out of the bus stop, the driver trying (I assume) to shake the swearing man and the bicyclist.
We went maybe a block when the bicyclist was back, riding alongside us while cursing out the driver and hitting the side of the bus again.
The driver got on his phone. “Tell the SFPD to get here right now to arrest this bike rider. Right now. They gotta get here and arrest him. He’s messing with the bus. He’s damaging the bus.”
Everyone squinted and leaned forward to get a good look.
“It’s that guy in the sports coat,” I told my seatmate and the woman in front of us. A gangly guy on a bike, wearing a dark blue sports coat yelled something else to the driver and then rode off. The driver kept calling for the police as the bicyclist disappeared down Polk Street.
We drove past a sign advertising pedicures and spa treatment. I thought we should all pitch in and get a gift certificate for our driver or something. If anyone (else besides me) needed a spa treatment, it was him.

I hurried off of the bus a few blocks later.

Bus Report #883

This morning when I got to the bus stop, the man who reeks of body spray stood by the edge of the sidewalk instead of sitting on his usual bench.

He shot me a quick glance and then rolled his eyes toward the bench - where one of our yelly/screamy neighborhood crazy ladies sat, organizing the contents of her overstuffed granny cart.

Ah, yes. That was why he wasn't hanging out in his normal spot.

We waited for the bus as the woman muttered and tidied her things, occasionally bursting into loud and angry bouts of yelling at no one (at least, no one we could see).

She only became louder and potentially more volatile as the minutes passed.

When the bus pulled in to view I thought about asking the driver not to pick her up, but I felt guilty about it at the same time.

Luckily, she decided not to get on the bus this morning and we enjoyed a quiet ride for a little while, until the Russian woman sitting in front of me pulled out her cellphone for her daily (loud) call/Skype to her son.

Further along our journey, two men got on at the same stop, both in red pants and plaid shirts, but they did not sit together and I saw no indication that they even knew each other. Curious.

Along 16th Street the police were rousting the sidewalk tent campers, and a clean-up truck from DPW waited for further directions.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Bus Report #882

Late night at The Academy of Sciences for Nightlife (thanks for the tickets, GoGoCraft!).
Afterwards, after making a bow tie and seeing the penguins and the famous albino alligator, Claude, I waited in the dark at the bus stop with half a dozen other people.

SFMTA, please put in some lights at this bus stop. It's dark and didn't feel very safe, even with all the people milling around after the event.

The bus arrived and I got on, sitting next to a girl who looked asleep but wasn't. She clutched her phone in her hand and stared in to space, her mouth hanging open, slack.

A man in the front of the bus messily ate an ice cream bar. It was disgusting and fascinating to watch him eat. If he could have eaten the Popsicle stick, I think he would have.

Another man with a crumpled map kept asking his seatmate for directions but the seatmate shrugged and looked away. He eventually got out a few minutes later.

At 6th Ave. the bus mostly emptied out.

I asked the driver if I could hitch a ride for a few more blocks even though 6th was the last official stop.
"I think you can," he said, and then tried to give the man who needed directions proper instructions on where he could catch another bus. It turned out he was going in the complete opposite direction of where he wanted to be.

An elderly Russian man sat down and pointed to the puddle of chocolate ice cream left on the seat by the ice cream eater. "You have napkin?" he asked me.
I handed him some tissues.
"It's no good," he went on, swabbing the seat with the tissues. "Someone sit here, he get chocolate on him."

Someone touched the driver on his arm and as soon as the person got out the bus, the driver started telling me how much he hated being touched, how old ladies were the worst but the men were just as bad sometimes.

As he pulled in to my stop he said, "Have a good night, dear," and I thanked him for the ride and crossed the street, headed for home.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Bus Report #881

Tuesday, late afternoon on the 19 Polk.

It's crowded but I've got a seat near the back since most of the other people who boarded when I did were afraid to sit back there with the laughing teens and the man drinking a beer wrapped in a paper bag.
Amateurs, I thought, slipping past the knot of CCA students to an open seat next to the beer drinker.
So he's a little drunk, and the kids are laughing so hard they're sliding out of their seats. Who cares?

At the roundabout another regular gets on. He's always reading something interesting. Tonight it is a book by Donald Goines. Last week, it was a Swedish mystery novel. Eclectic taste.

At Civic Center a man gets on. He's a dusty, smelly zombie staring straight ahead, standing and then sitting one seat away from me.
When he gets up to leave the bus a few blocks later, his pants fall down to his ankles but it doesn't faze him and he steps down from the bus, pants bunched up on top of his shoes. He's not wearing any underwear so we all get an eyeful of way more of him than we'd like to.

A woman sitting across from me can't hide her shock. She catches my eyes and mouths, "Oh my god."
I nod my head, say, "Yeah."


Friday, June 26, 2015

Bus Report #880

Gorgeous foggy morning today. As the 33 made its way through the Panhandle and the Haight the fog was thick and alive, completely shrouding JFK Drive, crawling its way over Oak Street and climbing up the hill to cover Twin Peaks.

The sun came up just as we began our descent into the Castro - and this is when I should have known today was destined for greatness. The Castro was only just waking up and beginning its day. All down 18th Street, from Castro to Mission, newly hung rainbow flags draped from windows and balconies.

The bus dropped me off at Potrero and I walked the rest of the way to work, waving to the guys at the garage, stepping around trash strewn beneath the freeway, trying not to wake up the man sleeping in a sunny spot on the corner of Vermont and 16th.

And then I got the news on my phone, the Supreme Court making gay marriage the law of the land, and I smiled. And then I cried tears of happiness for the Professor and JD, and for my cousins and friends, and for all of us, really.

Happy, happy Friday!