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."

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Bus Report #976

Snippets...

Last week, Tuesday night, going to the PJ Harvey concert with Nell. We had a couple drinks at the Cinch and decided to take a cable car to the Masonic, because, why not?

We were the only passengers on the cable car and it felt like a private service, at least for a few blocks.

We hopped out by the venue. The gripman called out to us, "You going to a concert? What show?"
We hollered back but by then the cable car was already pulling away from us towards the top of Nob Hill.

Arriving in style. That's just how we roll.


I ran in to Jeannie several days in a row last week. Crowded 38 Geary buses, the two of us holding on for dear life, chatting about her various Muni routes from work, what books we were reading, the merits of new buses versus old buses.


Monday morning, Leon tells me he's transferring to the 45 line at the end of the month. The drivers just had a sign-up and apparently there aren't as many prime shifts on the 33 in the summertime.
"I tried to get an early afternoon, so I still get off at a good time," he said. "But I didn't get what I wanted, so, I'll be saying goodbye to you guys in a couple weeks."
"I'm sure we'll see you around," I said. "We always do."

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Bus Report #975

A girl on the 38 last night had a tote bag that read: Books Is Power

I puzzled over that for a while.

Also, when two drunk/fucked up people both get on the 38 at 9:30 at night and sit next to each other, what do you get? You get a bizarre verbal altercation that luckily did not escalate, much.

The woman I'd seen before. She wore dirty bedroom slippers and was twitchy enough to make a couple of the guys in the back of the bus shrink away from her and hold their bags close to their chests. She mumbled and slid around on the back bench, and watched everyone.

The man was a little guy, my height or shorter, with a big backpack. He slouched onto the bus and sat beside the woman, who immediately accused him of trying to touch her.

He mumbled something in Spanish and she said something back, in English, and for a moment I thought they were making some sort of deal.

A moment later, she stood up and sat near me, talking to herself, or to us, about how she was sober and she didn't need the aggravation (of what, I had no idea).

A girl sitting across from me, her school sweatshirt telling me her name was Norin L., looked up and grinned at me. I grinned back.

The woman lurched across the aisle and took an empty seat by the stairs.

The man was talking to himself now, too, in Spanish, bitching her out for an unknown slight.

And then, she turned to him and cursed at him in Spanish, and he jumped up and lunged at her. Shouting all the while, who did she think she was, she was a whore, he was going to kill her, etc.

She stood up and called him some more names. The bus stopped and she got out. He almost followed her but decided against it. Instead, he took her seat and kept talking to himself.

A man across the aisle had been watching the whole thing.
The agitated man called over to him, "You speak Spanish?"

The other man, let's call him the voice of reason, said yes.

"He was totally offending and disrespecting me," said the agitated man. No matter that he had actually been a she.

The other man told him to cut it out, and to calm down. "There was no call for that. You can't do that on the bus."

"He was offending me, he offended me, fuck off," said the agitated man.

The two of them almost came to blows - the voice of reason stood up and came right up to the agitated man, cocked his finger at him like a gun and told him he needed to cut it out or he'd get it.

Then the voice of reason acted reasonably and got out of the bus before anything happened.

The agitated man got out at Webster a few minutes later.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Bus Report #974

Yesterday evening, gorgeous thick fog blanketing everything. I slowly Muni-ed my way home from dinner (Streat Food Park) and drinks.

Was yesterday a luggage buying holiday, or something? I considered buying a new duffel bag yesterday morning. On the way home, two unrelated women on the 47 and on the 38R struggled to maneuver large, newly purchased suitcases from Ross, while a man sitting in front of me spent the whole commute searching for bags on ebags on his phone. He even watched a few videos on how to pack bags to get the most use out of them. I was bored out of my skull watching over his shoulder, so I stopped and stared out the window at the ribbons of fog floating by.

Two men discussed their tattoos - one had just gotten a new tattoo but was already planning his next one. "Just wait until my next tattoo," he teased his friend.
"You're going to get me in trouble," said the friend.

Another man - central casting new San Francisco, with his grey hoodie, his wireless ear buds and his air of entitlement - talked loudly on his phone to his friend. "The way all the California republicans voted today, man, you can bet I'm staying here." He might have meant staying here as a refuge from the rest of the country, but it was hard to tell. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Bus Report #973

This morning the sky was cotton candy pink with clouds to match. Not a hint of our beloved fog. It was bright enough that I could see all the way towards downtown. Amazing.
Waved to the friendly Russian woman who was waiting, as usual, for the 2 Clement.

Within a few blocks the pink sunrise cooled into a light blue that I suppose could also have been a shade of cotton candy.

Open windows of Clement Street - an almost always dark window was well lit, the shades ajar, a shirtless man walking around a small room. I turned away to give him some privacy.

And the open doors: wet suit landing door open, bench at the top of the stairs free of wet suits.

Waiting for Leon, I said good morning to the man who is often sitting on the bench out front the pizza place. We used to just nod at each other, but friendliness has gotten the best of me. So now we greet each other every day.

I put on my headphones to listen to the latest episode of Radio Ambulante. Always amazing. If you're looking to improve your Spanish, or just enjoy a great podcast, you should check it out.

C. came around the corner, on his way to work. We both took off our headphones and stopped and chatted for a moment. So pleasant.
He hurried off, so as not to be late, and Leon pulled up in the 33 a moment later.

We were in one of the coaches that has the ad with his photo in it. I can't help it, I always find that to be strange.

Most of the ride I spent listening to the radio show. Not many regulars this morning, not many people at all. No giant genie, either. In the Castro, an out-of-it guy on a bike actually stopped for the bus. Huh. I guess even drug-addled meth guys can surprise me sometimes.

At Potrero I hopped out. Leon and I did our usual "Have a great day, you too, see you tomorrow, catch you later" and I crossed the street.

Walked down 16th, in the street because the sidewalk was still blocked by the encampment I reported last week. And the week before. A few blocks later, across the street, I saw my coworker, D.

I waved, he waved, and then he crossed over and we walked to work together, after grabbing coffee at Philz.

It was one of those golden San Francisco mornings, with an easy commute and nice people. What M. used to call a "Miss Rachel's Neighborhood" kind of vibe.

Let's have some more of those.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Bus Report #972

This morning I was the only passenger on the 33, with Leon at the wheel.
"Man, was your day totally crazy yesterday?" I asked, because the 33 was right in the thick of Golden Gate Park 420 festivities yesterday.
He laughed. "You know, I took the day off yesterday. I had no desire to be part of that at all."
That's right, I thought - yesterday was the other driver.
"It was crazy last night," I said. "You didn't miss anything. Smart of you."
"I mean they can do their celebration," he said, grinning, "But I don't need to be involved in that."
I agreed and sat down.

As the bus rode through the Upper Haight, I could see there was still evidence of yesterday's event scattered all over the park. The upper panhandle was covered in paper (fliers? handouts?) and the trash cans near the entrance to the park were overflowing. Still, at least this year there was an event sponsor and an attempt at controlling the crowds.

No sign of our drunk and confused passengers from yesterday.

The giant genie got on at his usual stop. Sat in front of me and went through his routine - comb, dandy brush, lotions. And then his second routine: opening up his coffee hot cup, adding his sugar, shaking the cup to mix. 

The sun was bright and when we took the hairpin turn onto Market, the city below us was bathed in ombre shades of gold, with a thin band of early morning fog hanging low over the buildings. Just beautiful.

I got out at Potrero as always, bid Leon a good day and a great weekend. He waved and I crossed the street to walk to work, while he took a right onto Potrero.

The large encampment that I've reported twice (and man, if you want to see the state of our city, from graffiti to homeless concerns to abandoned vehicles, check out the latest 311 requests, it is crazy! Each time I check, there are at least four other open reports about this encampment) still blocks 16th between Utah and Vermont so that I have to zig zag around tents and trash and, under the freeway, walk in the street because the sidewalk is completely blocked. And then when I stepped back up onto the sidewalk this morning, I almost stepped on a hypodermic needle. Delightful.

Have a great weekend, all.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bus Report #971

I waited for the bus in the early morning sunlight, the delicious buttery smell from Arsicault teasing me, trying to lure me across the street to stand in line for a croissant. But I was strong, and I resisted.

The 33 was late, and Leon was not our driver.

In the Haight, two very, very drunk men tried to get in through the back door. One of them could not even stand up on his own, so his friend tried to help him, but the drunker of the two (in four layers of torn, oversized  pants and vests) just slumped in the step well for a moment, and then climbed halfway onto the bus from the stairs. He then started to crawl - sort of - his grimy fingernails scrabbling against the floor.

We all stared at them. The driver stated the obvious, "Sir, you can't stay there, you can't block the steps."

The less-drunk of the two helped his friend stand up, and then pulled him into the seat right behind me.

The rest of their ride, the really drunk man kept yelling something that sounded like "16 Haight Street," to which his friend nodded each time.

We were about to take the hairpin turn onto Market when the less-drunk man asked the driver when we'd get to Haight Street.

She turned around and stared at him. "I picked you up on Haight Street. If you want Haight Street, you never should have gotten on the bus. You gotta get out, cross the street, and wait for the other bus to take you back."

The less-drunk man stood up and gestured for his friend. The very drunk man slow-motioned his way to the stairs and then disembarked one molasses-slow step at a time. As we drove away minutes later, I watched the drunker man slump to the sidewalk, where he stayed until we were completely out of sight.