Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bus Report #908

Tuesday nights, when we all head for the bus, L. and D. and I (or just L., or just D.), play the 1 California evening roulette.

Will the 1 California be going all the way out to 33rd? Will it be stopping at Presidio, or at Baker, or even at 6th Ave?

You just can't know, even if bus tracking apps try to stay up to date. Sometimes the 1 California drivers just decide to head to the yard early. When that happens, there are always a few angry people who yell at the driver, stomp off the bus.

Last night my bus was only going to Presidio.

I hopped out and waited for the 2 Clement, which was supposed to arrive in a minute. I recognized an elderly man who always carries two heavy shopping bags. Last time I saw him, the driver helped him with his bags.

Here's the bus, I said. Do you need help?
He shook his head. No, they're too heavy, don't worry about it. You get on first, since I will be slow.
Are you sure? I asked.
He was sure.

Another woman offered him her help but he declined again.

Soon the three of us were on the bus.

In the front of the bus, a few passengers chatted about how there were so many Clement Street stores closed for Chinese New Year.

Ah, said a man who spends a lot of time in the donut shop. Happy New Year to you, then.
The rest of the front of the bus passengers shared holiday wishes, even though none of them were Chinese at all.

Bus Report #907

Monday night, later than usual, stepping off of the 38 Geary.

The neighborhood smelled like fresh baked bread from Boudin, and something else: Chinese tea eggs.

It all made me hungry.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Bus Report #906

This morning on the 33 Ashbury...

The usual driver, the old Russian lady, and me, for many, many blocks.

At Fulton a kid got on who seemed a little out of it but otherwise fairly normal, until he started switching seats every couple of minutes, with no discernible pattern. It was unnerving. If he was trying to make sure he didn't miss his stop, all he needed to do was let the driver know where he was going.

The bus filled up, and the kid kept changing seats. He wore his khakis belt less and hanging off his ass, and as he hopped up and down and switched seats again and again, the pants began to slide down even further, until he was wearing just his boxer shorts with the khakis bunched up by his knees. Lots of bare, exposed thigh that no one wanted to see.

He was unbothered. Kept moving around until even the driver turned around and asked, "where are you trying to go?"

No answer from the kid.
He eventually got out at Mission Street. By now, I expect his khakis have fallen completely off.

The giant genie got on at his usual stop. He wore his enormous galoshes again. Combed his beard with a red plastic comb, then out came the dandy brush. Fantastic, as always.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Bus Report #905

This morning my driver was the same friendly, valiant driver from last Friday's door debacle.
He smiled at me and said, "Let's see if we can make it all the way to the end of the route today."
I laughed. "I have faith," I told him.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bus Report #904

This morning's rain was more of a rainpocalypse than I expected.

I was drenched by the time the bus arrived but the bus was warm and while half the seats were wet, I got one that was dry. Or, I suppose, dry-ish. Water dripped in from the roof, making the floor of the bus slick and dangerous underfoot.

Our driver was not having any shenanigans - everyone had to pay or he'd yell at them, everyone had to board through the front door, and, just like yesterday, he told us multiple times not to eat on the bus. I wonder if this is a new push for Muni civility (sign me up!), some sort of 'make sure everyone behaves for the Super Bowl' threat from their bosses, or something else.

I can get behind all of that, but he was growly and confrontational and did not win any new friends.

One regular, who always gets off at the same stop on Clayton, must not have signaled for his stop because the driver drove right past it, despite the regular's protestations. He was let out less than a block later but he was angry, shook his fists at the driver in a cartoonish manner.

The giant genie got on at his usual spot. I stared at his galoshes - so huge! I've got big feet but even I could have fit both of my feet into one of his boots.

He ate a cheese danish but the driver didn't say anything. Maybe he knew the giant genie's got secret powers - you don't mess with a genie.

The giant genie finished his breakfast. He took his comb from his pocket and combed his beard and his mustache. Then he applied his mustache balm and combed again.

At Castro, a stooped, soaked man snuck in through the back door, slumped into a seat, and finished eating the box of Walgreen's brand chocolate chip cookies he held clasped in his hands. The driver said nothing.

I hopped out on 16th Street and caught the 22 Fillmore right behind my 33.

The man who always stands too close to me was on the bus and we nodded to each other.
A few blocks later the driver let me out on 17th, calling out to me to be careful on the stairs and to have a good day.

"Stay dry," I called back to her, and she laughed.
"Yeah, I will if you will," she replied.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Bus Report #903

This morning the 33 was almost empty, just five of us passengers and the driver.
Three of us, the ladies, all had dark curly hair - and this made me happy, but I am not sure why.
The other two passengers were a young guy who reminded me of someone from a long ago TV show and another regular passenger, a guy who always seems affectless, humorless. A human iceberg.

The bus rolled down Arguello and it did not take long to notice there was a problem with the back door. It would not close without human intervention - either one of us had to pull it closed or the driver had to stop the bus, get up, and do the same. There was a trick to it, since if we stepped down into the stepwell the motion sensors would fling the doors open, so we had to lean, and push.

I am not the praying type but I hoped we would make it at least down to the Castro before we had to go out of service, because that's how it was looking. I didn't want to get stuck in the Haight or Twin Peaks if I was going to have to walk part of the way to work. It was too early, still dark.

The five of us passengers took turns fixing the door, encouraging the driver. We smiled and joked with each other and wondered if we would get to work on time.

The driver said, "Sorry, you guys. Just bear with me, okay?"

Of course, we're with you, we've got your back, we all replied at one time or another as we slowly crawled up Ashbury.

The doors kept flying open, though, as we were driving. An unsafe situation even if we were all seated away from the door.

The young guy offered to stand there and hold the door shut.

"Nah, you'd be a liability, man," the driver said, smiling. "Can't let you do that."

The other curly-haired woman, a regular with a beautiful smile, wondered if there was anything we could use to push the doors shut.

The older German woman offered her umbrella. "Perhaps we can jam it so it does not come open?"

"No one has a length of rope or some chains this morning?" I said, kidding.

The driver just shook his head. "It's too early for this. And before breakfast."

"You have not yet eaten?" asked the German woman. "We must get you something."

"I'll be okay," said the driver. He fussed with the doors again. "Just stick with me a little bit longer, let's see what happens."

We stuck.

The doors did not, flying open again the minute the driver sat down and restarted his system.

"There's another bus in three minutes," said the iceberg man.

When the other bus came in to sight, we all trooped off our bus through the front door so we could say good bye and good luck to the driver.

The German woman squeezed his arm, wished him a good day.

I told him I hoped his day got better.

The young guy had just requested an Uber. He hastily canceled his order, waved to the driver.

The other curly-haired woman pulled a green pear from her backpack. "If you need a snack to tide you over, you are welcome to have this pear," she said.

The driver demurred. In that moment, I loved everyone on that bus. I loved the cold foggy morning, the broken bus, and the brightly lit bus pulling up right behind it.

We five passengers got on the new bus and sat down.

Later, when it was time to go, we disembarked one by one, waved to each other, smiled like old friends.

I was the last to leave.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Bus Report #902

This morning as I walked to catch the 33, I saw our neighborhood Recology guy, Ryan, twice and we greeted each other over the din of his truck. We waved and mouthed, "Good morning!" and continued on our separate (but slightly tandem) ways.

The mysterious door that leads up to the wet suit landing was open, warm yellow light spilling into the dark street.

At the bus stop stood the Axe body spray guy. This morning he said, "Hello, good morning," and I was surprised how soft his voice sounded.

The bus arrived and we got in, and soon we were flying down Arguello and then up to the Haight.

In front of Haight Street Market there were four delivery trucks double-parked with Tetris perfection. The bus squeezed past them and turned right to climb the hill.

None of the Ashbury regulars were waiting this morning. Curious.

In the Castro, in front of the bank, a dozen candles still burning brightly to honor the memory of David Bowie. A classic Bowie photo affixed to the fence above them.
Nearby, two bouquets of flowers and more photos of someone else's lost loved one. 

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Bus Report #901

This morning the rain came down in sheets.
I hurried to catch the bus. Somehow, in the rush, I managed to open my umbrella and then close it again, and I don't remember doing either of those things.

The woman from last night's 2 Clement got on. She waved and I said, "Long time no see."
"Yes, yes, long time no see," she said, and giggled.

The 33 was wet and perhaps running late because the driver was blowing through red lights like nobody's business.

Axe body spray guy reeked strongly of his preferred teenage-boy scent, but it was still not as bad as last night's perfume hawker and his terrible BLAZE cologne.

The giant genie got on at his usual stop. This morning he was wearing tall galoshes and lots of rain gear. He looked like Ahab. He looked like Ishmael. But mostly, he reminded me of New England sea captains in their bucket hats and their yellow slickers. All he needed was a corncob pipe and a wooden leg.
He sat down and combed his face and beard, and then applied his mustache balm, finishing off with his dandy brush.