Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bus Report #840

Last night on the 2 Clement, on the way home...

I got on the bus and quickly walked past the man sitting in the front. He is a familiar face around the neighborhood, always talking loudly to himself and to people who I don't think exist, often saying threatening things. He always seems agitated, wraps rubber bands around the cuffs of his pants, and reminds me of a feverish scarecrow.
I know he's got some problems he can't solve on his own, but he frightens me anyway.

He sat in the front of the bus and talked to nobody, at least, that's what I thought.

A few rows back sat an older woman with two large tote bags and two folding tables. At first I couldn't tell what they were talking about - they didn't seem to be on the same page at all - and then the man stopped himself mid sentence and asked her where she went to college.

"Me? Oh, I went to the University of Dust," she said. "Are you a student?"

"Oh yes," said the man. "Well, I'm not at school right now but I want to study the language of transport and infrastructure."

Huh, interesting, I thought.
He went on.

"Because you know, sometimes you're on a train and you can't tell what's going on because it's in a different language, and we read things one way but Germans do it another way, and then also the Israelis, because of imperialism, they're going to take over Europe."

The woman nodded. "Do you mean because they speak and read Hebrew?"

"Hebrew!" the man yelled. "Yes, exactly. It's like how Egypt doesn't have it anywhere else but for example France does." He looked at the woman. "School of Dust. Is that here in the city or in Northern California? Is it like epidemiology?"

"The School of Dust is not in California," the woman said. "It's everywhere."

"Like online?"

She gave him an exasperated sigh. "It's not really called that. It's a code name."

They both got out at 6th Ave., the man stomping off down Clement, the woman and her many things slowly shuffling up 6th.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bus Report #839

Deep, deep blue sky this morning, almost black in some places, almost grey in others, electric above my block. And stars, though fading out for the day, still bright for a few minutes as I waited for the bus.

Thanks to The Professor I had new music to listen to - the latest from Al Joshua, formerly of the fantastic Orphans & Vandals. And in the quiet dark it was so, so good.

Nothing bothered me as much as usual - not the creepy girl with the vacant look in her eye, the woman doing arm exercises on the bus, the wild-eyed man flashing his ID card at everyone and leering at the people sitting nearby him.

At Mission and 16th the cops had a woman handcuffed on the corner, four cops and two cars with flashing lights, just standing there. A heavy-set man wearing huge headphones snapped a photo.

Walking the rest of the way to work after getting my coffee I turned up the volume and listened to the last two new songs I hadn't heard yet. I slowed my pace so I could finish listening before getting to the office.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bus Report #838

This morning on the 22, a woman got on at Church and Market.
Well dressed, hair done up in a beehive/bouffant that looked sophisticated and pretty.
She held her phone with her left hand, and that's when I saw them - her nails.
Her very, very long nails. At least four inches long, curled and curved, almost horn-like.
Her right hand had short nails, I assume so she can go about her daily life with ease.
But good god, those long nails on the left.
I was disgusted and fascinated all at the same time.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bus Report #837

Last night on the 19, the bus passed three bars/restaurants with the word Rye in their names, and we were within a couple blocks of a fourth.

This morning I got down to Fillmore right in time to see the 22 fly past my stop. Ah well.
I walked up a block to wait under the big trees near Sutter.

A boy sat in the bus shelter, legs splayed out in front of him. He looked like he'd been sleeping there.
Muni predicted 19 minutes and 29 minutes until the next couple buses. I hoped it was a mistake.

It wasn't, and I stood under the trees watching the street scape lighten as the sun grew brighter, watched buses pass by at regular intervals across the street, watched a homeless man lurch down the sidewalk dragging his sleeping bag behind him. An elderly woman jogged past me twice.

Mr. Taylor, the world's oldest school crossing guard, came around the corner with his bright yellow outfit blazing, his plastic bag and STOP sign in his right hand, steaming cup of tea in his left.
"Morning, Rachel," he said. He looked at the Next Bus sign. "13 minutes," he said, and shook his head. "Guess I'm walking."
"Have a great day," I said.
"You, too, and hope your bus comes soon," he replied.

Thirteen minutes later, on the dot, our bus pulled up. The kid who had been waiting in the bus shelter stood up and we got on.

At Eddy a girl and her mom got on the bus and the mom gestured for the girl, a high school student, to sit beside her. This mom takes her 15 or 16 year old daughter to school every day, even though her daughter seems very, very embarrassed about it. It is a straight shot on the bus from their stop to the school. I wonder if the daughter is known to cut classes, or if the mother is just a helicopter parent extraordinaire.

Oddly, despite the bus' lateness, it was fairly empty and stayed that way the entire ride.  I wondered where everyone was.

But I did not complain.

Bus Report #836


The other afternoon, on the 31 Balboa.

I left work early because my back was killing me, took the 10 downtown and switched to the 31 because it was the first bus that happened along.
All good for the first few blocks – a seat by the window and while it was a full bus it wasn’t packed. People got out, people got on – mostly elderly folks with carts full of food bank stuff.
My seatmate was a tiny old lady with a big cart. She wore a floppy hat and lots of rings.

Several daytime drinkers got on through the back door and sat in the last couple rows of the bus. They carried paper bag-wrapped cans and a couple of them had small nip-size bottles of vodka and gin that they clutched in an attempt to make them invisible.

You know how it is on the 31, don’t you? Some of the city’s worst blocks, all sorts of people, humanity at its worst but you know what, sometimes also at its best.

Younger folks helping the old folks with their carts. A man taking time to hug and say goodbye to his friend, a woman in a terrible wig who had her arms laden with bulging shopping bags. Cute little kids on their way home from their first days of preschool or kindergarten, with new backpacks and sneakers and tightly braided hair.

A girl and her boyfriend and her dog got on – the boyfriend a heavy set, bearded guy in a Giants hat, the dog some flea-bitten little yippy thing, the girl a skinny, sickly looking person with squinty eyes, messy hair and a sour look on her face.

It did not take long for the girl to get into a fight with the backseat daytime drinkers.

We had just pulled in to a stop on Eddy next to a sad-looking playground when I heard a commotion in the back of the bus, and yelling.
The girl was calling someone a bitch, and screaming, and spitting, “Don’t touch my fucking dog.”

I turned around to see the girl standing up, lunging for the daytime drinkers, one of whom was trying, barely succeeding, to restrain his friend, a tall, very angry person of indistinguishable gender but who I am confident would not mind if I referred to her using a female pronoun.

The drunk woman was crying and trying to push past her friend. “I’m gonna mess you up,” she yelled, “Who are you to call me a bitch, bitch?”

I know I wasn’t the only person having these simultaneous thoughts – no way I’m getting out the bus on this block if the cops come and we have to vacate the bus, how long are we going to sit here, what the fuck is wrong with these people and finally, if I have to protect myself from a violent fight, I’ll protect my elderly neighbor, too.

Just then, a big guy who’d been sitting in the front of the bus stood up and said to our driver, “Sister, I’ve got this, let’s keep going cause I know I gotta be somewhere soon.”
The driver stood up and watched to see what was going to happen. We were not going anywhere.

The man made his way to the back of the bus and said, “What’s the problem?”
The drunk woman cried, “This bitch is tryin’ to start something with me and I didn’t even do anything! And it’s my birthday!”
To which the girl, sitting back down now, said, “Bitch was gonna step on my dog.”

Ridiculous, because they’d both been sitting down and the drunk woman was no where near the girl and her dog.

It took a few minutes for the big guy to defuse the situation, which ended with the drunk woman and her friend getting out of the bus, all the while the drunk woman moaning how unfair it was and that it was her birthday.

They got out and the driver started rolling up the street. The girl with the dog wouldn’t shut up, kept going on and on about how she was trying to have a good day and the drunk woman ruined it, and she seemed about to pick a fight with the big guy.
Her boyfriend said, “Today was going just fine until now.”
The big guy said, “Listen, just let it go. It’s over. Forget about it.” He waited a moment and then returned to his seat in the front of the bus.
My seatmate turned to me and squeezed my leg. “That man, he is a good man,” she said. “He did not have to do it, but he did.”
“Yes,” I agreed with her. “He’s a good guy.”
The rest of the ride was spent chatting with my seatmate, or more accurately, bending down to hear her tiny voice and nodding at what she said even if I wasn’t quite sure what she was talking about. She was very sweet and when it was time for her to get out of the bus she carried her cart down the stairs, refusing any help, and she shuffled down Divisadero toward Geary.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Bus Report #835


This afternoon on the 19 Polk

My seatmate on the 19 was a petite man I see quite often. He works a few blocks from my office and lives a few blocks from my house. He must work for a showroom or perhaps the stockroom of one of our nearby warehouses.

Today he slid into the empty seat and began reading a book, a biography about everyone’s favorite actor, Johnny Depp (well, my seatmate’s favorite, at least.) It was essentially a book for fans, full of photos and casual language, chapter headings about Depp’s work with different directors and different scandals he had been involved in.  I of course tried to read a little about Depp’s work with Tim Burton, but I could only make out bits and pieces.

Oh, my little seatmate. He smelled terrible and I wondered if he knew.

He got out at Sutter and I got out a few minutes later, on my way to meet some friends for coffee and to get some work done.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Bus Report #834

Thursday morning, Bryant and 16th.

I crossed the street and saw a 33 Stanyan pull in to the bus stop. The driver was my old friend, he of the dark glasses and the snazzy cap. The whitest smile I've ever seen.
He waved and leaned toward the door, still smiling. "Well hey there sweetheart," he said. "I've missed you. It's been a while, how you been?"
I grinned back. "I'm fine. I miss seeing you, too." I said.
"Aw, you take care, honey," he said. "You have a good day, okay?"
"You, too," I said.

So sweet. He drove off, waving as they disappeared down 16th.

Monday, August 25, 2014

NPR Suggestions for On-Board Reading

I saw this on the NPR website this morning and had to share - especially since my love of Geoff Ryman's book 253 is endless and there are other books on the list that have a special place in my heart, too.

The 253 website is always located linked in our sidebar, but here it is again, just for fun.

Enjoy.

NPR's Tales of City Transit

What transit-related books/media do you like to indulge in, either on Muni or off?