Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bus Report #868

A cool but sunny morning.

The homeless woman I worry about all the time sat, as usual, on top of her suitcases in front of the produce market. She always looks very put together, and sits rigidly upright, sometimes speaking softly into a cell phone but most of the time just sitting there, her hands folded in her lap, looking like a stately older woman waiting for her train at the train station. I've asked the police to check on her before - and I think I might talk to them about her again. She could be someone's mom or grandma. She belongs indoors, in a cozy room or sitting at the kitchen table. She sits so serenely, often while some of our crazier neighborhood homeless folks scream and lurch down the empty early morning sidewalk. I worry about her. Every day.

I waited for the 33 Stanyan (soon to become the 33-Ashbury) with the man who always reeks of cloying, hideous teenage bodyspray. He had a new haircut this morning, short, almost bald on the sides, with a bit of a bouffant on the top. No words.

We got on the bus, the same bus as every morning, though Mr. Bodyspray always feels the need to flag the bus down (giving me flashbacks of the bus flagger).

In the Haight, the cops were rousting folks who had spent the night sleeping in doorways. The sleepy people packed up their bags, suitcases and bed rolls, leaving the street strewn with paper and bottles and dark trails of unidentified liquids. They shuffled toward the park where they most likely spread their things out again.

At the corner of Haight and Ashbury, in the shadow of Ben & Jerry's and two chain clothing stores, a man squatted beside the sewer grate, his pants down, exposing his pinkish white ass and thighs. He took his time doing... whatever he was doing. Didn't seem to care we could all see him.


Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Bus Report #867

On the 38 Geary last night, headed to the grocery store.

A very tall, very cute boy couple got on the bus and sat down a few rows ahead of me, and spent most of the ride nuzzling each other's necks and cuddling. Cute. Maybe a little overly affectionate for public transit, but nothing out of the ordinary in our fair city.

But you'd think the rest of the passengers had never seen such a thing before.

One girl stood in the front of the bus, staring, her mouth hanging open a bit.

A woman sitting near me kept leaning forward to get a look, then leaning back, and slightly shaking her head.

And no one wanted the empty seat in front of them.

It was odd. They got out the bus by the Russian bakery and I kept going.

Bus Report #866

Last Friday, after a long day all I wanted to do was go home.
The 22 was late, and packed, and it took forever to get to Geary.
I stepped off the bus to see two 38 Geary buses pulling away from the outbound stop.

I crossed the street to wait for the bus, leaned up against the side of the bus shelter and zoned out. That is, zoned out until a family (mom, dad, grandma, granddaughter) came up to me in the stop and asked me if I spoke Spanish. This happens to me a lot, and I don't know if it is because of how I look, or if it's just a gamble on their part. To be fair, I am always accosted by Russian ladies on the bus, in my neighborhood, in the supermarket.
It's a multilingual world and I just live in it.
It's fantastic.

I took off my headphones and said yes, a little, and how could I help them?

They wanted directions to the puente - the Golden Gate Bridge.

"Easy," I told them. "Take the 38 or 38 L to Park Presidio, then transfer to the 28."
Someone had told them to get out at Geary and Fillmore, that this was the best way for them to get to the bridge.
"Well, I guess you could take the 22 to the end of Fillmore and then walk from Crissy Field, but it would take a while," I said. I traced the map with my finger, showed them both routes.

After a little more conversation, my Spanish sloppy and badly accented for most of it, they decided to take a cab.

"Sorry for my bad Spanish! Good luck!" I called after them.
The grandma looked back at me and said, "Actually, you were very good."

"God, thanks, I hope so," I replied.

A man standing a few feet away from me in the stop grinned and came over. "You were fine," he said.

I hope that family got to the bridge okay.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bus Report #865

Last night when I got on the 38L, it was already packed and we weren't even out of downtown.

There was one empty seat but a woman had her duffel bag on it. But I was tired and I wanted that seat.

I asked her, politely, if I could please sit down - expecting her to move her bag and make room.

She looked up at me and said, "No."

I'd had a long day. I asked again, "Can you please move your bag so I can sit down?"

At this point, other people were looking at us both. I had become that person, I guess. The annoying person on the bus who antagonizes the crazies.

This time, the woman went off. "Why you being so pushy? Can't you wait til I get out? What's your fucking problem, you bitch? You want my seat, well too bad." She kept going on and on. I didn't want to give up, but I didn't want to get attacked, either. I sighed, loudly, and moved out of the way to hold on to the pole a few seats back. The woman was still going.

"Where do you work at? What's your job, huh?" she yelled. Insinuating, I suppose, that I was some newbie overly entitled overpaid recent transplant who is used to getting my way. I really wanted to tell her how long I've lived here, and how much I'm not getting paid, but I didn't say a word.

The girl standing beside me whispered, "Ignore her, she's nuts."

The woman stood up and pulled the signaler to get out at the very next stop. Still grumbling as she got out the bus. She shot me a look and I told her to go to hell, and then I went to sit down in her just-vacated seat.

I know, I know, I shouldn't bait the crazies, but really. All she needed to do was say, "Actually I'm about to get out, hold on a sec," and that would have been that.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Bus Report #864

Thursday midday, on the way back to work from meeting my cousin D. for lunch in the Mission.
I walked most of the way but cut over at Bryant to see if I could catch a 22 or a 55.

Waiting in the bus stop was a pretty woman with very long, delicate, thin dreadlocks. A Muni driver walked up and set his bag down beside her on the bench.

"Nice locs," he said, putting his bright yellow vest on over his uniform.

The woman smiled and said, "yours look great, too."

The woman stood up and moved outside the stop for a quick cigarette. the driver smiled at me.

"How are you doing?" he asked me.

"Great," I said. "You?"

"Can't complain, can't complain," he said. "I'm a few minutes early for my shift." He paused. "But you know, this route, you get a lot of, let's say, interesting people. I've had to learn to not let myself get distracted."

Just then, the 33 Stanyan pulled up, and who was driving but my favorite driver, with his dark glasses and his cap and his big smile with bright white teeth.

"I have to go say hi to this guy," I told the driver in the yellow vest.

My favorite driver opened the door and waved. "How are you doing darlin?" he asked.
"Glad to see you!" I replied. I asked him how he'd been, what he'd been up to. Just the usual stuff, and he was doing very well, happy to see me and just off his shift.

My favorite driver stood up and scooted to the back of the bus, and the driver in the yellow vest got on to take over the route.

I waved good bye to them both and hopped on the 55 bus that had pulled up right in front.
I was the only passenger so I sat in front near the very chatty driver. She had her hair pulled back with a couple of pretty pink and white lilies tucked into her bun.

I asked her how she liked the new route.

"You know, other drivers say this route is 'sweet'," she said. "But it really isn't. You got people who don't know where they're going, and lots of you know, the homeless, and they didn't do a good job telling people about this route at all."

"Yeah, they didn't do much outreach," I agreed.

"You got that right," she said.

We chatted some more. When she pulled in to my stop we were still talking.

"See you around," I said.

"Oh you too, honey, you have a good day," she said.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Bus Report #863

Tonight, I took BART to Oakland to hang out with M.
While waiting for a Richmond-bound BART I saw my friend Ross, so I called out, "hey, Ross!"
He turned around, saw me, said, "Hey, Rachel!"

We hugged in the middle of the platform.

"And those are actually our real names," I said, loudly, to the half-dozen people who were watching us.

I never liked the show Friends, but I know what's what.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Bus Report #862

This morning I had two pies to carry in to work, since we were celebrating Pi Day early. I carried one in each hand - one hand held tight to a vintage pie tin inside tote bag, the other to a plastic cake taker I'd gotten at Ross long ago. I know I probably looked ridiculous.

When the bus pulled up to my stop I got on, balancing pie container on top of pie container so I could scan my Clipper card.

"What you got today?" the driver asked.

"Just a couple pies," I said.

"You didn't bring me none, huh?" he asked, joking.

"Aw, sorry, not today!"I told him, sitting down and situating the pies so they wouldn't slide around.

A few stops later, oh look! It's the giant genie - my fourth sighting of him this week.
He daubed some oil onto a small comb and combed it through his beard, then finished off with the beard balm and his dandy comb. What a great ritual. I don't mind watching it - unlike the dreaded nail clipping and the cringe worthy eyelash curling, this never seems disgusting or potentially dangerous.

I (carefully, slowly) got out the bus at my usual stop and said good bye to the driver, and walked the rest of the way to work.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Bus Report #861

This morning the bus was late, and it was dark again (thank you, daylight savings time).
When the bus finally arrived there were more passengers than usual - I bet a couple drivers called out 'sick' today.

I listened to an episode of Lea Thau's great podcast, Strangers, and got a little choked up and teary, but no one noticed.

At his usual stop, the giant genie got on and immediately began his beard care program. Out came the tube of beard moisturizer, spread liberally under his nose and around his mouth, out came the tiny dandy comb that almost looked kid's size in his big hands.

I watched him, mesmerized as always, until we got to my stop and I stepped out of the bus.