Thursday, September 08, 2016

Bus Report #934

This morning while I waited for the 33, the 21 sped towards our stop, as it has done for the past month. Muni must be routing it from the yard on Presidio.

But today was different. Instead of passing right on by, the bus slowed and the driver opened the door.
"You're a 21, not a 33, right?" I asked, peering in.
He nodded. "Yeah but I'll give you a ride to Stanyan if that's where you're headed."
How very nice of him!
I thanked him and told him I'd wait, and wished him a great day. He waved and drove off.

Five minutes later, my bus arrived. The driver was the man with the recently sprained wrist.
We greeted each other warmly.
"Hey, how's the wrist?" I asked.
"Aw, it's great, I don't have to wear my splint anymore," he replied.
"That's great news," I told him, and then walked back and took a seat.

Later, crossing the street in Potrero Hill, the smiley driver from a couple weeks ago rode by in his accordion bus, waving and grinning as he went.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Bus Report #933

Muni, always an experience, on a recent Sunday afternoon.
No problems getting there or running my errands. I even had time to browse some shops before heading home.
I hopped on the 38 and sat in a window seat on a bus that filled up very quickly.
My seatmate was an older man, somewhere between 55 and perhaps 65. He was skinny and his legs swam in his jeans. His leather jacket reeked of smoke and even though it was overcast, he wore dark sunglasses.

He did not say a word but when he sat down he immediately crossed his legs, tightly, and began rocking and swaying back and forth.
I can only describe it as the most frantic combination of bucking, bouncing and davening I've ever seen.
I was, of course, polite but grossed out - best case scenario he had a disorder that compelled him to do it, worst case - and do I really have to spell it out? - he was masturbating (albeit oddly, unless this is a thing?).

I shrunk closer against the window.

I'd have called him out for it if I'd seen any proof, but he mostly just rocked and rocked and rocked, his spindly legs bouncing up and down.

As it was, he was so slight I could have pushed him off the seat with the gentlest press of my finger.

We rode on, and on, and he rode on and on as well, sliding closer to me as I slid further from him.

At Fillmore, a girl in a bright pink T-shirt got on and sat behind us, shooting a look at my seatmate as she walked by.

Finally, thankfully, he got out the bus at Baker, the back of his pants streaked with wetness.
Disgusting! But hopefully our paths will not cross again.

As soon as the door closed, the girl in the pink shirt said, "I saw your face when I got on, I was all set to say something if he got worse, but I think he was trying to scratch his ass!"
I laughed, and she laughed too.
"I would have just pushed him into the aisle," I said. "But yeah, let's hope that's what he was up to."
"I was like, that girl looks like she's gonna kill that guy," she went on. "But I'm pretty sure he was just trying to scratch some hemorrhoids."
We both burst out laughing again.
"God, I hope so," I said.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Bus Report #932

I caught the 33 yesterday morning at my usual time, after a brisk walk down damp and misty Clement Street. Despite the overcast morning there were already a handful of people waiting in line at the bakery across the street, recently awarded the prize of best bakery in the United States.

My driver was familiar, though I had not seen him in a while. He is young and has a beard, big, pretty brown eyes and a nice smile. He reminds me of a long-ago bus companion from my 22 Fillmore days, Jason (Headphones Guy, for anyone keeping track).

I said good morning and nice to see you, and he did the same.
"Have you been on vacation?" I asked.
He shook his head. "Nah, out on disibility, actually. I hurt my wrist." He held up his right hand and flexed it.
"Oh, man, that's got to be tough," I replied.
"Yeah, I was fixing one of the poles," and at this, he gestured to the electrical poles that power the bus, "and it was stuck so I kept pulling, and man, I sprained my wrist really badly."
"I'm glad you're back, and that it's better," I said, before going to sit down.
"Me, too. Great to see you," he said.

The rest of the ride was uneventful, and quick, and I stepped out of the bus at Bryant, calling a cheerful "welcome back, and thanks," to the driver.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Bus Report #931

A couple of weeks ago, on the 33, a driver I haven't seen in years (maybe, 6 years?) was riding down to the bus yard.
He saw me and came over to where I was sitting.
"Hey, what are you doing here so far away from Geary?" he asked. He used to drive my 38 Geary bus most afternoons.
I laughed. "I work down by the brewery, actually."
"It's great to see you," he said, smiling his friendly big smile - one of the reasons he remains such a memorable driver for me.
He stepped down from the bus at his stop, and tipped his hat, and waved.

The other morning I saw him again. This time he was driving a long accordion bus that was zipping down 16th Street.
He grinned and waved, and tipped his hat again.


Friday, July 15, 2016

Bus Report #930

This morning, walking to catch the 33:

There were no other people out and about, not even the man who picks up trash on 10th and Clement. Just me and the bird gangs of the Inner Richmond - the pigeon families, the shrieking crows, the seagulls, so many seagulls, loudly calling to each other as they roamed the intersection of 5th and Clement.

It was a cold, damp morning but the open windows and the open doors of Clement Street were still open. One apartment was dark and quiet, but still had its second floor windows open as wide as possible. Another upper-story apartment had wire hangers of clothes hung from a curtain rod. The shirts and socks swaying just a tiny bit.

The door leading up to the wet suit landing was ajar. I could see a couple of wet suits draped over the wooden bench at the top of the stairs.

On the bus, just a handful of passengers.
As we turned down 18th Street, a sight to make me smile: two pink flamingos planted in a tiny square of dirt out front one of the houses. The flamingos looked very natty: one wore a blue tie, the other, a rope of pears wrapped four times around its neck. Fancy!

Walking to work from the bus, I spied the hot, hot CHP guys just hanging out at Philz having coffees. These guys should be on a calendar, they'd make millions.

I'd never noticed the sliver of empty lot between a non-descript new condo building and the Anchor parking lot, but I smelled it before I saw it this morning. It was weedy but smelled like grass and fennel. Purple flowers climbed one of the containers parked midway between De Haro and Carolina. 

On the sidewalk someone had scrawled my brother's name, in chalk. It was very faded but I could still make it out. Someone else wrote in (what looked like) blue-green finger paint: Haz el amor.

Briefly forgotten, sighted yesterday afternoon: The man who sits on the bus spinning wool into yarn had been spinning some lovely grey wool. After a few blocks, as we descended into the Castro, he packed up his project and stepped out of the bus.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bus Report #929

Tonight, a quiet ride home from the Mission on the 33.

Nextbus was cycling through improbable predictions: 20 minutes and 44 minutes, 32 minutes and 65 minutes, and then back to 3 minutes and 23 minutes.
There were three of us waiting for the bus and we all had different ideas on when the bus was arriving. Apparently, three is the number of people you need to get together to accurately predict arrival times. The bus showed up four minutes later.
Not too many passengers, a friendly driver.
At 18th and Church we picked up an elderly lady who had been about to hop in a cab when the bus showed up. She thanked the driver.

In the Castro we idled at the light and a kid in a nearby frozen yogurt shop ran out of the shop, jumped over a bench, and began waving to someone in the back of the bus.

"Drew, man, I'll text you," he yelled to his friend.
And then he jumped over the bench again, went back inside.

Up the hill the fog was rolling over the city in thick ribbons. All the lights below us looked fuzzy. One house up on the hill was brightly lit with blinding fluorescents. The entire place was being redecorated and was a mass of white furniture, white cabinets, white walls, white lamps.

We stopped at Carmel to let someone out and the elderly woman asked the driver if he could let her out a few houses down from the next stop. "Of course," said the driver. "You just let me know where is good."
He stopped the bus right in front of her building and she slowly exited the bus, called good nights and thank yous back at the driver. "You're welcome, ma'am, you take care now."

In the Haight, near the park, there were still a lot of people out and about. None of them looked as cold as I felt.

When we got to my stop I thanked the driver and crossed Geary, hoping to catch a 38 home the rest of the way. There were none in sight, so I walked, hands shoved in pockets, the wind lifting my hair, the fog and mist settling on my cheeks.

It was an uneventful walk home, but beautiful, serenaded by the fog horns. They will lull me to sleep, quite shortly.



Tuesday night, on the 1 California, headed home:

A girl sitting across from me had a tattoo, in Hebrew, behind her ear and I spent the better part of the ride trying to decipher it.
If anyone knows what gimel-yud-lamed-hay spells (or hay-lamed-yud-gimel, I suppose), let me know in the comments. My guess is it was someone's name, spelled phonetically, and incorrectly. But what do I know - I was always in remedial Hebrew class back in my Hebrew school days.



Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Bus Report #928

Yesterday, the Fourth of July, I took the 33 Ashbury from the Richmond all the way down to 24th and Potrero, to go to C's for a barbecue.

The bus arrived and I got on, balancing my freshly baked blueberry bars in their carrier on my lap.
We sped down Arguello, and then down Fulton to Stanyan, slowing down in the Haight to pick up a few passengers.

It had been a while since I'd been in the Haight after 7 AM and it was its usual raucous, vibrant self. Many tourists in their shorts and sandals, Upper Haight street rats with their backpacks and their dogs.

Twin Peaks was sunny with a layer of fog hanging just below the sun. It isn't the 4th without you, Karl!

Further down the route we turned at 16th and Potrero and headed down Potrero.

A man from the back of the bus hollered, "Hey, I wanted that stop!"

The driver said, "You didn't signal for it, so you'll have to wait for the next one."

"What? I was tying my shoe, can't you please just let me out?"

The driver glanced at him in the mirror. "I'll let you out at the next stop. You gotta signal next time."

The man stood up and walked up to the door. "Man! You must really hate your job and really hate your life, you can't stop and let me out!"

The driver looked at him again. "I love my job and I love my life. You can get out in a minute."

The man shook his head. "All right, I guess I'll be walking. That's okay, I got my phone, gonna take some pictures."

He finally got out at the next stop, taking his sweet time to curse out our driver a bit more before he actually stepped out of the bus.

Once he was out the door, the driver said, "Can you believe that guy?"

I said, "Well you know, he was tying his shoe, so he didn't have time to ring the bell."

The four of us left on the bus all laughed. One elderly woman sitting near the front of the bus smiled at me and said, "He needs some of those Velcro shoes, maybe."

When we got to my stop, I wished everyone a good holiday and told the driver not to let jerks like that guy ruin her day.

"Oh, he won't ruin my anything," she said. "You take care."


Hours later, I waited for the bus home in a bus stop that reeked of old piss.

Several people were passed out on either side of the bus shelter. One man spent a good five minutes adjusting himself, and scratching his chest, before sharing a cigarette with a woman who staggered over from across the street.

The bus soon arrived and I got on. At the next stop, a man lurched up the stairs and slid in to the seat behind me. He immediately began arguing with himself, but directed it at the man sitting across from him.

When that man got out the bus at the Potrero Center, the arguing man turned his attention to me. He leaned over the back of my seat and yelled nonsense at me for a while. It was frightening - the tone of his voice was very aggressive and he was twitchy, with sudden flailing movements. More than once he lunged forward, trying to get my attention. He would also step into the stair well and poke his head out the door and look around, and then get back on the bus.
He reminded me of someone who frightened me as a child, a man in my old neighborhood who we called "The Barking Man."
Except that this guy actually seemed dangerous.

The driver eventually put him off the bus when he started yelling at a couple of elderly riders, but really, he should have been put off long before that.

A woman sat beside me and began pulling potatoes out of her bag one by one, inspecting them carefully. They looked like regular potatoes to me, but I'm no expert.

Bi-Rite and Tartine were packed with customers and Dolores park was a sea of people enjoying the San Francisco Mime Troupe.

In the Haight, people got their photos taken on the corner of Haight and Ashbury.
By then, the fog was starting to roll back in for the evening.

I got home just as the wind picked up and the fog enveloped my neighborhood.