Monday, February 09, 2015

Bus Report #856

Friday afternoon, on the way home.

I was still listening to Sarah Dougher - half of The Bluff before the bus even arrived - and when it finally turned the corner onto 18th Street I could see it was already full. Oh joy.

I managed to get a seat in the back of the bus, one of the seats that faces another bank of rear facing seats.

The man sitting across from me was gorgeous in a scruffy, possibly-a-construction-worker-or-carpenter kind of way, with a destroyed baseball cap on his head and a reddish brown beard, thick denim pants spattered with mud or paint. He was reading but I don't remember what the book was.

At Potrero, a mom and her two kids got on. Mom and the little boy sat a couple rows in front of us and the little girl perched on the seat beside the gorgeous man. The seat had a bit of water on it and the little girl (maybe 6 or 7 years old?) didn't want to get wet. The man noticed the water on the seat and he smiled at the girl, and then he used his jacket, which was wadded behind his back, to mop off the seat for her.

The little girl grinned and scooted back onto the seat, her feet dangling over the front.

The bus was slow. The music I was listening to stopped - album over. I started listening to it from the beginning again.

We inched down 16th Street. The windows on the bus were mostly closed and it was warm, and the warmth combined with the slow rocking of the bus, and perhaps the stresses of her day, lulled the little girl to sleep.

At first she slept sitting up in her seat, her mouth slightly open. As the bus moved, though, she slid over so that she was resting against the man's arm. He looked over, smiled slightly, and returned to his book.

The girl's mom looked back and reached over to shake her daughter awake. The little girl sat up, blinked, and when I caught her eye she looked slightly embarrassed.

She was asleep again in a few minutes.

This time she slumped against the man's arm immediately, and while he didn't seem to mind (he must be someone's dad, or favorite uncle - he seemed very sweet) I think he worried what other people, including the girl's mom, would think.

"Hey," he said, quietly, "hey." but the girl was still fast asleep. He hesitated, caught my eye, and then gently tapped her knee.

She bolted upright, smiled shyly at the man and then turned to face the window.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Bus Report #855

Friday, a damp morning.

I walked to the bus in the dark, past several people walking their dogs, past the man who picks up all the trash for a few blocks of Clement when no one's looking, past sleepy delivery drivers loading pallets of supplies into unlocked, dark storefronts.

Waiting for the bus I put on some music I haven't listened to in a long while - Sarah Dougher's albums The Walls Ablaze, part of The Bluff, and a few songs off of her first record, Day One.

Her music always touches me, and hearing it again after so long transported me back to the early oughts, to shows at Cafe du Nord and Bottom of the Hill, standing over to the side by the wall while her band played on stage.

She has a song where she sings about "the selfishness of the artist" and it always reminds me of Neruda's "deber del poeta" (the poet's obligation) - and then I sit wherever I am (for example, on the 33 Stanyan on a cold and rainy morning, just as the sky is growing lighter) and think about my obligation as a writer, and my selfishness, and it makes me feel energized and despairing at the same time.

I step off the bus, into a light drizzle,  just as Sarah Dougher's fantastic cover of Irma Thomas' "It's Raining" comes on.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Bus Report #854

Beautiful grey-blue and light yellow sunrise this morning, streaked with hot pink clouds.

The 33 Stanyan glided through the route, dropping me at my early morning cafe a few minutes earlier than usual.

J., another regular, paid for my coffee before I had a chance to pick up his, and I thanked him and said I'd get his coffee next time, and the time after that. He just shrugged and waved me away.


Down the block, at the Potrero McDonald's, the yellow sign out front read: LOVIN GABE AND CARINS BUNDLE OF JOY.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bus Report #853

Does the man who smells like awful Axe body spray think I am always sick? I cough whenever I'm down wind of him waiting at the bus stop. I bet he thinks I've got a chronic cough.

Out front Safeway, in the bus stop, I saw Hy-Plains Beef guy, with his signature odd hair style and his thick hairnet stretched over the whole production. A knot of people waited for the 22, so I stepped into the street to get around them.

A coffee shop regular, Jeff, waved at me with his newspaper and said good morning. I smiled, said good morning back.

There's a new bus in town, starting in a few days - the 55 16th Street. Seems like it will ferry people from Mission Bay to 16th Street BART. Not sure how I feel about it, since the 22 and the 10 already cover a lot of Potrero and further into SOMA, etc., but we'll see.
I'm kind of longing for the 53 Southern Heights, though - despite its very different route and its death a few years ago.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Bus Report #852

Last night, at 16th and Church.

A man with bleached-blonde hair stood at the corner waiting for the light to change, hula hooping with a glow-in-the-dark hula hoop.
He was good.
The light changed and he dashed across the street to get on the bus.
He slid in to the seat beside me and balanced his hula hoop between his leg and the back of the seat in front of us.

This morning, as seen walking to work from the bus stop -
Half a studded belt discarded on a stone bench.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Bus Report #851

This morning the 33 Stanyan bus slowed down when it saw the two of us waiting, then sped up and drove off. I yelled after him but it made no difference. The other person waiting in the stop, an older man who always reeks of Axe body spray, didn't do anything except shrug and retreat to a dry spot under a nearby awning.

I was pissed off - mostly because the 33 is an infrequent bus and it meant another 20 minutes or so waiting in the rain - but also because that driver saw us. No question. he just didn't want to stop.

I called 311 while I waited for the next bus and made a complaint. I felt better and killed some time, but it didn't get me to work any faster.

Another bus came, and the body spray guy waved frantically for the bus to stop. It did, and we got on.

A few blocks later, and the giant genie got on, once again wearing his tall, tall boots. Once again carefully brushing his beard and mustache with his dandy brush. His earrings sparkled in the bright light on the bus.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bus Report #850

Three for Thursday...

This morning, stepping off the 33 and crossing 16th, what do I see tucked away beside a concrete building column?
A gorgeous-looking chocolate cake with a smooth ganache, with sprinkles. On a plate, with toothpicks on top to help tent the plastic wrap on top of it (which was partially torn, leaving the cake exposed to the elements).

A cake left out in the rain, folks.


Last night, rain, and Muni once again unable to handle it. The 10 Townsend never arrived so I crowded on to the 22 Fillmore, which was late.
I got the last seat on the bus, next to a man who said, "That's the most coveted seat on the bus."
We chatted a little. He was from L.A. and was not bothered by the rain at all. "We need it," he said. "At least there aren't any mudslides here like in southern Cal."

More people crowded on, their umbrellas dripping everywhere, their backpacks bumping people.
Kids from the middle school up the street, talking about how one of their brother's just got a gun.
I hope it was just bragging/bravado and not the truth, though I suspect it was the truth.

Slow commute down Fillmore and I missed the 5 Fulton by a minute, watched it drive off while I ran to catch it. NextBus unhelpfully said the next bus would be in 10 minutes and 23 minutes, or 11 minutes and 13 minutes if I wanted the 5L.

Luckily, (well, unluckily, I guess), the NextBus sign was wrong and a 5 pulled up a couple minutes later.
I stood on the bus near the door, next to a woman who looked angry, or worried, or both. I hope her night only got better.

And Tuesday night, another overcrowded, dripping wet 22 Fillmore bus. A man got on at Mission and I recognized his jacket, immediately.

Because it used to be mine, and I gave it to Goodwill a couple months ago.

It was my jacket, I just know it - blue zip-up with a white stripe running around it horizontally. It was always too big for me and not waterproof, and I hadn't worn it in over twelve years when I donated it. It was still in good shape and I knew someone else would really like it. It had been a men's jacket to begin with, from a store back in Boston before I moved out west.

The man stood in front of me and I could not stop staring. At him wearing my jacket. At the odds of seeing my jacket on someone else. At how the jacket, still not waterproof, was soaked through almost all of the way.

And I pictured myself in that jacket,  newly arrived in San Francisco, a sweatshirt underneath the too-big, boxy blue jacket. My hands shoved in the pockets, wandering the Lower Haight and the Mission, looking for my first apartment during another long ago housing crunch, staying out all night to avoid going back to where I was staying those first few weeks in the city.

Pictured myself going to my first temp job here, in my only shoes (blue Dr. Martens), my only decent pants (black slacks) and my only decent shirt (a grey early fleece v-neck, already growing threadbare by that time). No one in that corporate environment saying anything about my bad clothes. Spending my first check on another pair pants, on cheap Community Thrift shoes, still searching for a place, still hoping to make San Francisco work for me.

I stopped staring at the man before he noticed and stared back.
I hope he gets a lot of good use out of that jacket.