Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Bus Report #999

Hello! It has been a while, because I was hoping to have my 1,000 post extravaganza planned already before I posted again.

Alas, that is not planned yet, but if anyone wants to help, email me! I'm thinking an evening at a Muni-adjacent bar here in the city.

Anyway, Muni has been Muni for the past few months. Wonderful and frustrating and beautiful and terrible all at the same time.


The lovely man who I share a seat with in the afternoons. We chat briefly before he returns to his texts and his music. Beautiful smile and generally nice human.

Running into Polk Street cafe friend Laura twice in two months, after not having seen her in a while. While she doesn't live in the Tenderloin anymore, she confessed it is where she is still the most comfortable, so she's been doing the 2 Clement back and forth shuffle for a while, to visit old friends.

Sweet drivers who stop and wait for regulars, and who help folks with strollers and carts lift them on and off the bus.

The Muni Art campaign. My only critique is that I'd like more variation in the poems, but I can't get enough of the Charif Shanahan poem, so I am content otherwise.

Having my birthday party on a historic Muni charter, Car No. 1 - absolutely unforgettable. If you have the chance to do a Muni charter, DO IT! Super fun and unique. We did a 2 hour charter but honestly, we could have done twice that length of time. Cheers everyone for coming to the party, and cheers to our delightful conductors. Be forewarned, the Boat Tram is currently out of service, which is a tragedy because it is my favorite historic car, but hopefully it will be back soon.


The woman who drinks garlic tea on the bus at 7 am, doing precisely that this morning.

Extra crowded buses last night, as there were 2 out of service 22 Fillmores broken down along our route.

Andre switched routes, so I don't get to see his friendly smile in the mornings. The new driver is great, though humorless. Se la vie, right?

Overall, all is well in my world, Muni-related and otherwise.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Bus Report #998

Happy New Year, one and all.

Here are some bits and pieces from the past few weeks.

Right before the holiday break, I gave my early morning driver on the 33 a coffee card to say thanks, as I do.

"Thank you," he said, lovely, bright smile on his face. He held out his hand. "I'm Andres."
"Great to finally meet you, Andres," I said. "I'm Rachel."

Christmas Eve, heading to the Zam Zam, we had 10 minutes to get to the 33. I was surprised we made it - even if it meant C. running to make sure it didn't take off without us.

Later, we took a circuitous Muni path towards home, and as we waited for the 44 I caught sight of one of my former 22 drivers operating a 6 Parnassus bus. He opened the door and wished me some Christmas greetings. I warmly wished him the same.

Several days later, I waited for the 38 on a cold and overcast afternoon. There were at least 25 other people waiting. It did not look good. I had just come from Trader Joe's and as I shifted my bag to my other shoulder, one of my former 38 Geary morning regulars joined me in the bus stop.
We were glad to see each other and immediately began chatting. We realized that even after so many years 'knowing' each other on the bus, we'd never actually introduced ourselves.

"I'm June," she said. We shook hands.
"Rachel," I replied. "I have a friend named June, but she wasn't born in June."
"Ah, but I was," June replied. We chatted about Christmas, and the bus, and her cats. She got on a very crowded 38R and I waited for the next 38.
"Bye, Rachel!" she called back as she ran to cram into the back door.
"See you around," I said.

Last night, on a crowded 38. I had my headphones on, spacing out the window as we crawled up Geary. At Masonic the bus grew crowded.  A big guy with long salt-and-pepper hair, fading tattooed sleeves and way, way too many shopping bags crowded into the seat beside me. I shifted over as much as I could.

I had my music on but heard him ask me how I was at tying knots. I took off my headphones.
"What's that?" I asked.
He held up his plastic shopping bag from Target. The handles were torn. Ah.
I reached over and tied the handle back together for him. It seemed sturdy but I said, "I can't guarantee that's going to hold."
"Well you have to guarantee it," he joked. "You can sign something to make it all official."
"In that case, I'm Jane Doe and we've never met," I joked back.
The person sitting behind us laughed.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Bus Report #997

Yesterday afternoon I took the 38 Geary downtown, to meet Civic Center Michael and a couple of his friends at the SFMOMA, so we could experience our beloved The Visitors sound installation again before it closes.

The bus was already fairly packed. I sat down in the back and at the next stop, a trio of burnout guys got on and one of them squeezed in beside me. He reeked of beer. It was coming out of his pores and smelled terribly stale. He balanced a beer, a folded piece of newspaper and two self-help books on his lap. He talked, loudly, with his friends.

A mom with two little kids got on and sat in the very back. Her daughter carried a thick book but I couldn't see the title. Her little boy wore a Pokemon hat and sat quietly next to his mom.

At Arguello, three older folks got on. One woman held an envelope with an address scrawled on it.
She asked me if we were on O'Farrell. They were headed to the Curran.
"This is Geary," I said, "But we'll switch over to O'Farrell. And then you'll just walk up one block to get to the theater."
"Thanks," she replied. "You really know your way around Muni!"
I smiled. If only she knew.
We chatted a little. Her friends were from Quebec and she was taking them to see Bright Star. Last night, they'd all gone to see Beach Blanket Babylon.

Divisadero. An older man got on, with his cane and a smart-looking little brown case. He hobbled up the stairs and joined all of us in the back of the bus. By now, my beer-odor seatmate had moved to the back and he helped the older man sit down. He picked up his fallen glove and tossed it up, caught it, tossed it up, caught it again, and then handed it to the man.
"Bless you," said the older man.

When the little boy in the Pokemon hat started to fuss, the beer-odor man said to the mom, "Man, I've got two daughters - 25 and 19 - and a grandkid, and I just love them all to death." I snuck a glance at him. He didn't look any older than 45. I tried imagining him as my grandfather. I couldn't do it.

The mom and kids got out a few stops later. The elderly man said, "You take good care of those kids, you hear?" and the mom nodded, smiling.

The Curran-bound folks smiled and the Quebec wife shook her head. The woman with the envelope directions just said, "That's Muni for you."

And it was.

Once downtown I went to go meet Michael and his crew. We enjoyed a lovely afternoon at SFMOMA. Inside The Visitors, people were really into the exhibit. One woman sat cross-legged on the floor, sketching the musicians. Several children danced the music or sat, enthralled, in front of the bathtub screen. As usual, people entered the exhibit talking and playing with their phones, but eventually most of them found a spot to stand in and they stayed rooted in place for quite a while.

A grandma in a beautiful red coat whispered to her little granddaughter, "Look at him, in the tub with his bubbles. We wouldn't want him in our bubble bath!"

I smiled. Said to Michael, I wouldn't mind him in mine.

This morning the bus was almost empty, save for a few regulars.
The mom with the two little boys, the little one still sleepy in his stroller.

Three men got on at Corbett and chatted in sign language. Well, two chatted and one did his best to not participate, looking away almost the entire time.
The little boy with the wire-rimmed glasses was entranced. His mom scolded him not to stare, but I don't think the chatty men really cared.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Bus Report #996

Waiting for the bus last night, former 33 driver Ken drove by in his hot, hot car (I'm not a car person at all, but whatever car this is, whoa, hotttt). It might be a Cadillac but I'm not sure. It is a deep orange-red, and he takes really good care of it.
He leaned out the window yelling, "Hey, Rachel! Rachel!"
I pulled off my headphones and called back, "Hey, what's going on, man? You have a good holiday?"
"Yeah," he called back. "See you later."
They don't come much sweeter, folks.

Lately, in the mornings, there's a mom and her two little boys who get on at the stop just after mine.
Her older son is in elementary school, all uniforms and lanyard ID and wire rimmed glasses. Cute kid. He carries a Transformers backpack and always has a book with him.
The little boy is still young enough for a stroller, a big kid but no older than four.
The mom lifts the stroller onto the bus even though the driver offers to lower the lift for her.
The little guy is beautiful. Big brown eyes, wavy dark hair, a truly gorgeous baby (toddler? kid?). I didn't notice it at first, but I think he may be some kind of developmentally delayed. He doesn't talk and when he looks around, I get the impression he is looking past everyone. Lovely kid, nonetheless, and his mom and brother are just as lovely. They smooth his lap blanket and stroke his chubby little cheeks, and give him his sippy cup when he reaches for it.
It is nice to see their gentle, familial love so early in the morning.

Today, a man walked an Australian Shepherd puppy up Ashbury. My favorite dog breed. I smiled and watched the puppy prance down the street and bite at her leash.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bus Report #995

Last night, a crowded 19 Polk, headed inbound to my ceramics class at Fort Mason.
Our sweet bus driver smiled and said hello as I got on. Throughout the duration of the commute she called out all the stops and transfer points. Nice of her.

The bus was already full of kids from the school up the street, so I pressed my shoulder and hip up against the Plexiglas near the back door, my bag and legs almost smushed against an older, well dressed man sitting in a single seat.
He looked up and smiled. I tried not to stand too close to him, as Muni etiquette dictates.

As these things go, though, more people got in and soon my bag was pressed into his arm and my torso was almost grazing his shoulder.
All the way down 7th Street I was overly conscious of how close my body was to this stranger, the strap from my bag tugging my already low-cut shirt down even further, and it was an odd feeling.

Usually, I don't care - crowded buses mean everyone crushed up together - but there was something about the way he kept glancing up at me that was unnerving. You can tell when someone is eyeing you up and down. Appraising.
As we approached Mission, someone elbowed me from behind, catching me off guard.
I almost stumbled against the man.
I apologized, saying, "Sorry about that, I'm trying not to fall on you."
He raised his eyebrows, said, "I'm not bothered. I wouldn't mind.  I'm not complaining, about it."
Then he winked.
"Are you complaining about it?" he asked.

And for the millionth time in my life, I couldn't think of a decent answer.
Just stood there, my face hot, knowing I was probably blushing beet red and that even the blindest person on the bus could tell. Blushing more from my inability to say something back to him than from anything he'd said.
Because really, as women know, as everyone else is learning, this stuff happens all the time and it doesn't matter if you're in tight jeans and a revealing shirt or if you're buttoned up to the neck. You can be ten years old, or well in to your eighties. Our bodies and our style choices are, sadly, not ours to a lot of people.

We hit Market Street, and he asked if I was getting out. I said no, but moved so he could stand and get out. He smiled again as he left.
I slid in to his seat and stared out the window for the rest of the ride.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Bus Report #994

Last night I dreamed that a scraggly, wired, long-haired, droopy-mustached, thin-T-shirted man got on the 33 and stood in the front of the bus. After a moment of incoherent mumbling at the driver, he unbuttoned his jeans and proceeded to shoot up right in front of us, into in his thigh.

Friday morning the kind nurse and I were talking as we waited for the bus. She said, "I'm glad your cold and cough are gone, you had that for a while." I was touched. And yes, almost all summer, though I did not say that to her.

That night, on the 10 Townsend, we had just pulled in to 4th and King when a guy got out of his (too big for the city, extra fancy SUV) car and came up to the bus to tell our driver we'd just sideswiped him. Um, no, we did not touch your car, dude. We'd have felt it, something that big and useless.
Plus, there were no scratches on the SUV or on the bus.
The driver had no choice but to go out of service, despite several of us telling him we hadn't touched the car. I was annoyed, channeled it into filling out a witness card for our driver. I walked all the way out to Market Street and did not see any inbound 10 Townsends the rest of the evening.

And yesterday evening, three teens got on the 22 Fillmore by the Castro Safeway. One kid had a juice with an open top and as they got on the bus his bottle tipped and he somehow managed to fling what smelled like guava juice all over the floor and near some seats. An accident, nothing a few napkins or tissues wouldn't have remedied immediately. Of course the kids just laughed and cursed at each other and headed for the back of the bus.
Our driver eyed them, wearily, in the mirror but said nothing.
As the kids continued cursing and shouting, an older woman in the front of the bus called back to them to please stop it, as there were little kids in the front. She looked like a younger version of K's mom, and I was immediately rooting for her.
The teens laughed her off.
An older man tried to say something too, they laughed at him as well.
The driver stood up and came back to look at the juice puddle. "You guys gotta get out," he told them. "You know, everyone here wants to get home just like you do, and I'm not moving until you leave."
Yeah, those kids weren't going anywhere.

One man started in on the kids but they just kept laughing and cursing, made some obnoxious comments about him.
The driver got out and grabbed some old newspaper from the nearby trash can. The kids howled and made fun of him for it.
He waved over a supervisor who had been across the street talking to some N Judah operators.
The supervisor was bigger, taller than our driver and as the driver wiped up the juice with the newspaper (and a few napkins provided by the older woman) the supe coaxed the kids off the bus. "Come on, guys, you can take the next one. Let's go."
They eventually acceded, but not before getting in a few more verbal swipes at the man who had been trying to reason with them.
He didn't seem to care, but talked back to them anyway.
As the supervisor ushered the kids away, they pounded on the window next to where the man sat. He just shrugged and fiddled with his phone and we drove off.

This morning, smoky air again. Coughed my way to the bus stop, coughed my way down Arguello to Fulton, and most of the rest of the way.
The giant genie got on. Dandy comb, lotion, beard wax, the whole routine. Then he lotioned his legs and his knees, as he was wearing shorts today.

Walking the rest of the way to work I passed a handful of new tents right across from Safeway and UPS. Another dozen or so needles (of different sizes today, what a treat!) to report to 311.

Near the park, my favorite orange flowers and their vines have taken up most of the fence. So beautiful. Almost enough to wash away the grime this morning.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Bus Report #993

This morning, walking to catch the 33.
The sky was a smoky matte black - actually black - and I coughed the whole way down Clement.
The fires up north are bad, bad. Hearing the stories of the loss and devastation is almost too much.
When the bus arrived, the nurse, a twitchy dude, and I got on.
All the seats had a thin film of ash on them which must have blown in through the open windows.
I hoped Potrero would be clearer but it wasn't by much, at least not at 7:30 this morning. It looks better now.
My throat and eyes are still irritated from the smoke.
But I shouldn't complain.