Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Bus Report #1026

For the next couple weeks our stop in the mornings will be in front of one of the neighborhood's best bakeries. It is a complete tease to be standing there waiting while the smell of buttery pastry wafts out the front door.

Yesterday Tasha pulled up even though the bus display said NOT IN SERVICE.
We got on and I told her, and she laughed and apologized and changed the sign.

This morning the rain was coming down in sheets, and not twin bed sheets, California kings.
I huddled under the bakery awning with one of the friendly bakers, a chatty young man named Devin. We talked about the bakery and how early he gets up to get there in time to start baking (3 AM!).
When he finished his cigarette and headed back inside he said, "What's your name again?" and we shook hands and exchanged names. He pointed to their new sign, proclaiming new days and times. I promised to stop in soon to get one of their heavenly croissants.

The man with the mustache arrived and joined me under the awning. We talked for the first time. He's not smarmy or weird, he's just French! He shivered and said he thought California was supposed to be warmer than this.
He arrived in San Francisco in August, the height of fog season. "It was so bad," he said. "So cold."
When Tasha pulled up in the bus the Frenchman, let's call him Paul, held his umbrella over my head as we ran to get on the bus.
Tasha honked and beeped at the drivers who were idled in the stop. "You can't be here," she called out to them. "This is a bus stop, you're being rude."
"They've been sitting there for 10 minutes," I told her before I went to sit down.

Everyone on the bus was dripping water everywhere. The giant genie was covered in a rain poncho that could have been a tent. A couple of homeless guys got on, streaming water from their backpacks, and settled in the back of the bus. They were stinky but better they were able to get warm and dry for a little while.

We flew down to the Mission in record time, stopping to pick up a regular here, a regular there. An informal poll showed we were about 50/50 with our rain gear: half of us in wool coats and scarves and half in ponchos, rain boots and slickers.

I got out at Potrero and hurried down the hill to work.
I waved at the guys at the garage, at the UPS folks, skirted three puddles and accidentally stepped in one puddle. At work, dry and warm for the most part, though the ceiling is leaking in two spots with water coming down the wall and a property manager who seems unbothered.

Stay dry out there today, everyone!

Monday, February 04, 2019

Bus Report #1025

Saturday morning I hopped on the 38, headed down to Civic Center to meet up with Michael and James.
Mr. Polite was waiting for the bus too, and we exchanged greetings before we both got on the bus, Mr. Polite holding the door open for me. We settled in the back of the bus and caught up.
He showed me his new senior Clipper Card.
"I just got this," he said.
"You've got the key to the kingdom," I joked.
We talked about photography, as he is a photographer. He gave me some tips on how to take care of my film camera. He told me where I should go to buy film when I'm ready to take some pictures.
I asked him where he prints his photos. He has a dark room set up in his closet. I thought that was just the coolest.
He spends some time as a gallery monitor and was headed to the gallery just then. He patted all of his pockets, looking for his ear buds. He didn't find them. We agreed they were hopefully, probably at home on the kitchen  counter.
He told me that a lot of the downtown galleries are struggling, moving down to Potrero Hill for better rents. 
We traded favorite photographers. Brassai, Adams, Winograd for him. Nan Goldin, Janet Delaney and Walker Evans for me.
I pulled the signal cord as we approached Gough.
"Great to see you and catch up," I said.
"And you," he replied.
So polite.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Bus Report #1024

Took the 19 Polk from work last night, headed downtown.
The bus was very quiet and not crowded - unusual.
A man got on at Folsom. He looked like a drowned rat - completely soaked and his hair was sopping. He shuffled onto the bus clutching an overstuffed plastic bag and sat down near the front of the bus.

We got to 7th and Market in almost no time at all.

I switched to a 9 San Bruno. Seats wet with - I didn't want to know. I stood in the middle of the bus trying not to touch anything other than the bright yellow pole.

A creepy dude muttered to himself and eyeballed all the women, standing in the doorway blocking people coming in an out.
A well dressed woman (reminded me of folks I used to know in my banking temp days) got in and started to sit in the wettest of the seats.
I warned her but she sat anyway.

Later, after errands (thanks for taking my insanely late return, GAP!) I got on the 38R and settled in the back. One of my seatmates spent the ride scrolling through Latin dance hits on her phone while my other seatmate read a book that looked really fascinating - a book about 1980s teen movies.
It was called Pretty in Pink: The Golden Age of Teenage Movies.
 
I caught a page where the author talked about the 80s movie soundtracks, another where he described a pivotal scene in Adventures in Babysitting.
I couldn't help myself. As she closed her book and started to put it away I said, "That book looks fabulous."
She'd had a pretty good resting bus face going on the whole ride but now her face softened and she smiled. "Oh my god, it is! It is great bus reading."
I told her about our movie night last Friday, how we'd re-watched Adventures in Babysitting and alternately loved and hated it.
"You should try to get this book," she said. "I think it's out of print. You want to take a photo of it?"
"I'm good, I've already memorized the title," I told her.
"Well if you can't find it, and if you see me on the bus again, let me know and I'll lend it to you."
She got up to leave.
"It's a deal," I said.
She got out at 6th Ave.
All the way home I thought about the book and I looked it up before I even had my coat off.
Available second hand online, I bought it for $5.


Friday, January 25, 2019

Bus Report #1023

Last week there was signage in my bus stop announcing a stop change due to road work. The sign pointed towards California Street even though it referenced catching the bus at Geary.
Confused (but really more annoyed than anything else), I walked down to Geary. The sign in the bus shelter there referenced the road work and directed us to cross the street and catch the bus on the opposite corner.
Hmmm.
The bus came and I got on, asked the driver what was up with the stop changes. "So everyone who catches the bus at Clement has to walk to the far corner of Geary?" I asked. Not a problem for me, of course, but I was thinking of Olga, who only takes the bus one stop.
He didn't know.
The next day it was the same thing. The driver had no idea. "You should ask 311," he said.
I called 311 later and had a lengthy chat with a pleasant man who was just as confused as I was.
The following morning all signage was gone and there was no further indication of any work along Arguello.
Well, okay then.

Thursday evening, waiting for the 38. I walked up to the stop and the friendly man who always used to stand too close to me while waiting for the 22 was there. I used to find him annoying but now that I don't take the 22 in the mornings any more, I don't mind him.
He smiled and waved and said, "I have not seen you in a long time."
"How are you?" I asked. "Oh, and Happy New Year!"
"Happy New Year!" He replied.
He tried to ask me something but I didn't know what he meant, so we just smiled and nodded and got on the bus that arrived a moment later.
A scabby, twitchy woman got on the bus and sat down across from me. She was friendly but just a little too loud, a little too out of it. Another passenger cut her eyes at the woman and then tried to catch my eyes. I just shrugged.
The twitchy woman had her dog with her, a cute pit bull mix. His name was Prince.
She tried to get him to sit but he was too excited, so she rummaged in her bag for a pint of Ben and Jerry's and held it up in front of him.
"Sit, Prince," and he did, perfectly still for the time it took for her to open the ice cream and scoop some out onto her fingers. She offered it to Prince and he ate it right up, sat patiently waiting for more.
I wondered what flavor it was, and if she was going to have any of it when she got home.
"Does this stop at the library?" she asked.
I said, "Nope, Divis, but then you can just walk back."
She thanked me and fed the dog some more ice cream.
They got out at Divisadero.
Her jeans had slid down her hips while she sat and we all got an unfortunate eyeful of her light pink thong and her ass. I must have made a face because the woman who had tried to catch my eyes before grinned and rolled her eyes at me.

At my stop I waved goodbye to the friendly man and headed home.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Bus Report #1022

I left the office a few minutes later than normal last night. As I turned the corner onto 17th, I saw my usual afternoon driver - I call him Kevin but that's not his name - and my usual bus.
I waved, figured I'd catch the next one.
But Kevin stopped the bus and gestured for me to hurry and get in.
I jogged across the street and got on, thanked him profusely.

At Hayes I caught sight of the tree that had come down the other night in the storm, huge limbs torn off and everything still piled in the street, covered with caution tape.

Down the hill by the church at McAllister, another tree hanging heavily over the church fence.
Those ficus trees, they do not do well in bad weather.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Bus Report #1021

Rain.
And lots of it.
I've learned a few things this week: My trusty old Dr. Marten boots are perfect rain boots if I wear wool socks in them, my umbrella is actually decent, and I love how dark the sky gets just before the rain comes.
I've also learned how generous some people can be. The other night I didn't have the umbrella with me and I crowded into the Fillmore and Geary bus shelter with a handful of other folks. A woman looking at the NextBus console had a bright yellow umbrella and she automatically shifted it so it covered us both.
A few minutes later, the water was fast collecting in a couple potholes right at the edge of the sidewalk. I moved to stand by the Boom Boom Room mural to avoid getting splashed. I'd have been fine in the rain for the few minutes before the bus arrived, but a smiling woman in a bad sheitel beckoned me over to stand under her umbrella with her. I told myself to be nice but it was a very bad wig and I had to force myself to stop staring at it.

Yesterday I was woken up by that 4:40 in the morning earthquake.
Couldn't get back to sleep and ended up just laying awake until my alarm went off.
NextBus wasn't showing Tasha's bus so I lingered over my tea, until suddenly her bus was on schedule, in 18 minutes. I threw on my coat and grabbed my bag, slamming my lunch container against the wall as I went out (sorry, neighbors!).

Hustling down Clement I ran in to neighbor Joan, and we greeted each other and stopped a moment to catch up. I resigned myself to missing the bus but what can you do? I'll take the human connection over the early bus any day. We talked about our holiday breaks and her klepto sister in law.

She headed to the donut shop and I walked to the bus stop. Figured I'd missed Tasha's bus but that Annie would be along shortly.

A moment later, Tasha pulled up.

"I thought I'd missed you," I told her.
"Nah," she said. "That earthquake this morning messed with everyone's schedules, cause of BART."
It made sense. If you drive for Muni but take BART to get to work, you're waiting around for BART to finish post-earthquake inspections before you can even start getting into San Francisco.

This morning, another earthquake. I thought my fridge was doing a death rattle, but nope.
Waiting for the bus with Olga, the two of us pantomiming earthquakes and last night's rainstorm.
The bus came into view. I can never read the display but her eyes are sharp.
"The three three," she said, pointing at the bus.
I squinted. "Are you sure?"
"Yes, three three," she replied.

We greeted Tasha and I went to sit down.
At the next stop Olga got out, as usual. I said goodbye to her in Russian as she'd taught me, and she smiled.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Bus Report #1020

And just like that, it is a new year.

I bussed around town quite a bit over the holiday break, the city looking and feeling very different than it does at 7 AM or at 5 PM. Less people on board, more people queuing up at bakeries. I took the 33 the length of the entire route (just about), while I checked in on the L. household pets a few days around Christmas.

I walked back to the bus the long way, cutting through the heart of the Mission to catch it up near Valencia. Bought plantains along 24th Street. Stopped in a cafe for a while, to re-read M Train by Patti Smith. There's nothing like being the only reader in a cafe of laptops. Of tearing up on page ten, needing to compose yourself, and then getting right back to business.
Thank you for your words, and happy belated birthday, Patti.

One afternoon a very volatile woman was yelling at a sweet family because she didn't think their toddler was safe in her stroller. The little girl was fine, her family was baffled but polite, and the woman just kept yelling. Everyone on the bus got involved. Either yelling for the woman to sit down or get off the bus, or lamenting the lack of civility on public transit. I said nothing but was ready to spring into action if necessary.
A homeless couple sat near the family and they chatted and smiled with the kids to help defuse the tension. When they got out at Castro with their backpacks and walking sticks, the family waved good bye and the little girl called out, "Bye! Bye! Bye!"
The woman, by that time mumbling about something else, got out a block later. The little girl waved good bye to her, too.

New Year's Eve, headed down to Nob Hill for dinner with S. and C. The man sitting in front of me was beautiful and stylish. Light green hat with matching Chucks and a dark-wash denim jacket with complicated-looking pleating on the back and shoulders.

Twice I ran in to Axe body spray guy - he spotted me from a block away on Clement Street both times, waved with both arms, smiled widely. Merry Christmas, he said the first time. Happy New Year, the second time. I wished him the same and grinned right on back.

This morning I waited for the bus with Olga. We exchanged our trilingual pleasantries (she slips into French sometimes) and she taught me - or rather, attempted - to teach me how to say "It's cold" in Russian. I think I need more lessons.