Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Bus Report #927

Another wonderfully foggy morning.
I could smell the dampness, see the fog wrap itself around the buildings and lampposts as I walked down the street to meet the bus.

The pigeon family who has taken up residence above one of our many "closed for kitchen remodel" restaurants was out on the sidewalk, the parents watching the chicks poke and peck at the cement.

Down the block, three crows fought over strips of shredded paper.

The homeless woman I constantly worry about was already awake, walking back and forth near her luggage with a quilt wrapped around her shoulders. If I thought she would accept it, I'd bring her hot tea and an egg sandwich to warm her up. But I've seen her yell at people who try to help her. She gets frightened by the close contact. I don't want to make her feel uncomfortable.

Near Third Ave., a woman walked her rambunctious French Bulldog puppy - I did not mind his enthusiastic jumping as I walked by. They are my Kryptonite, those French Bulldogs.

The bus was early and I made a dash to catch it as it pulled in to our stop.
The overly-cologned, (former Axe body spray user) man got on and said good morning, and then he and his terrible cologne drifted towards the back of the bus.

Everyone was quieter today, more subdued. Was it down to the fog, the cool air?

I didn't know, but I also didn't mind.

We arrived at Bryant Street much earlier than usual. I got out and walked, the morning still cool and quiet, and still foggy even in Potrero.

This is why I love it here.

Summer, San Francisco style.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Bus Report #926

This morning, on the 33 Ashbury (that's what we're calling it these days, right?).

The ride was uneventful for most of the commute, just me and some other regulars - the Russian woman who Skypes with her son, the bearded bald man - and a man I'd never seen before. The newcomer reeked of smoke (he'd just finished a cigarette and stashed the butt in a pocket before getting on the bus) and he sat in front of me. I fanned away the smoky smell. He wore a skull necklace that looked as though it was carved from bone or shells - cool.
I looked at his backpack, which was wrecked and looked like it was about to come apart at the seams. Thought about how I'd repair the straps, if it belonged to me.

We rode down into the Castro.
The memorial to the victims of the Orlando massacre just keeps getting bigger and sadder every day. Someone had chalked the names of all the victims on the sidewalk and it still looked pristine in the morning, as though people had been walking around it to show their respect.

The whole thing just rips my heart open wider and wider every morning.

We pulled in to the stop at 18th and Castro and several people got out. As we left the stop, the man sitting in front of me got up and went to the front of the bus, stopping to scoop up a forgotten phone left on one of the seats. He gave it to the driver.
The driver asked, "did you see who left it?"
The man nodded. "Yeah, but he already took off."
"Let's wait a minute," the driver said. "Maybe they'll come back."
She waited a couple minutes and then slowly started rolling down 18th.
She stopped the bus just a few feet away - someone was running back towards our bus.
"That's him," said the man in front of me.
A young guy in headphones jogged up the stairs and the driver handed him his phone. "Don't thank me," the driver said, "thank him," and she pointed to the man who had found the phone.
The kid grinned and thanked the man sitting in front of me.

A good start to a Friday. Have a good weekend, all.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Bus Report #925

This week, in the mornings, it has been gloriously foggy.

The kind of fog where you wonder if the problem is actually your eyes, because everything appears blurry in soft focus and you can't see more than a half a block ahead of you.

The side streets off of Clement were thick with low-hanging, cottony fog, Karl in full force, rolling down the block, alive.

On the bus we climbed Ashbury and Clayton and were completely enveloped in the heavy, grey stuff.

The view from Upper Market of the rest of the city? Obscured so that it felt as though we were alone, just the dozen or so of us in our little metal box.

Just beautiful. Our summer fog is here. And I am delighted.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bus Report #924

Four mornings in a row on the 33 Stanyan, the giant genie and his morning facial care routine.

He gets on at his stop and folds his tall, tall body into a seat near the front of the bus.

Out comes the mustache balm and the beard oil, the dandy brush, the straight comb for his sideburns.

When his mustache and beard are properly groomed, he takes a thermos flask of coffee from his backpack and adds some sugars, then he screws the lid back on and shakes the flask. He takes a few sips and then returns the thermos to his backpack pocket for the rest of the ride.

When he gets out the bus, he has to duck his head to get through the door.

Bus Report #923

Last night when our bus stopped at Haight and Fillmore, three police officers got on and slowly moved to the back of the bus. Were they looking for someone in particular? Checking for something?
No one knew.
The mood on the bus grew tense, quiet. People who had been texting or listening to music a minute earlier were all now frozen in place, watching the cops.

They stood in a clump in the back of the bus.

Nothing happened, so the driver headed up the hill when the light changed.

I still don't know what they were doing on the bus. Did our new interim chief of police direct his officers to take public transit and interact more with the public? Or were they actively searching for someone?

I watched them as they chatted among themselves and checked their phones and their radios. Two of them were quite young, with neat, short hair.
The third police officer had a thick mustache that looked like a caterpillar hanging out above his lip.He was a younger version of my neighborhood nemesis, Officer Mustache. Only cuter, and there was no chance I'd be busted for jaywalking while sitting still on the bus.

When I got out at Geary the police officers stayed on the bus.
I wonder where they went.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Bus Report #922

This afternoon I took the 38R downtown, to see a genius about a battery.

Today being Bay To Breakers day, there were lots of people in costumes still roaming around. Out the window I saw Wonder Woman walking hand in hand with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, with fat Elvis and a woman in a red tutu walking right behind them.

The bus filled up by Fillmore Street. A dozen students got in, followed by another unsolicited evangelist. At least this guy only preached at us for a minute, albeit very, very loudly.

The students didn't want to have anything to do with him so they crowded together in the middle of the bus.

When the bus stopped at Van Ness a few people dashed out of the bus. One of the students, a girl in a zebra striped dress, suddenly grabbed at her purse and said, "My wallet! Someone took my wallet."

She and her friends ran off the bus in search of the thief. We were stalled at the light for a few minutes.

The girl got back on the bus and started looking under the seats. Her wallet was nowhere to be found.

Her friends were waiting for her outside on the corner but she didn't get out of the bus on time and we zoomed past her friends as she tried to open the back door. She pulled the signaler - but since we were on a 38R, she wasn't getting out of the bus for a few blocks yet.

A tourist couple watched her frantic searching. The kids sitting in front of me and behind me pointed at the girl and whispered to each other.

"What am I going to do? Do these buses have cameras?" the girl asked the tourist couple, who just shrugged.

"You should call 311 and report it, tell them the bus number and see if they have any footage," I suggested. "And maybe file a police report."

"A police report? Jesus," she said. "Thanks."

"Good luck," I said.

The tourist couple wished her luck, too, and the girl moved to the front of the bus to get the bus number.

I hope she found her friends okay. Her wallet? Who knows.

There was a man who hurried out of the bus just before she noticed the wallet was gone, but other than a vague idea that he was wearing a light blue t-shirt, I don't remember anything about him.

Here's hoping her wallet was waiting for her on her kitchen table when she got home.

Bus Report #921

On the 38 Geary yesterday, everyone was dispensing travel advice.

A trio of older women sat in the back of the bus, wondering how they would get to the De Young.
A woman sitting near them recommended getting out the bus and walking back a few blocks to catch the 28. "It'll drop you right in the park."
Another person chimed in, "Then you can switch to the 7 and get closer to the Arboretum."
My seatmate, a cheerful elderly woman said, "San Francisco has so many things to see."
I agreed with her. "I'd probably just get out here and walk over to the De Young, but I like to walk," I said.
The tourist ladies overheard me. "Get out here, you think?"
"If you want. Or you can wait til 6th Ave. and switch to the 44, it will drop you off right in front of the museum."
"Oh, we'll do that," said the leader of the group, a woman with long grey hair, dressed in layers of light blue tie-dye.
The tourist ladies continued chatting.
My seatmate told me she'd lived here for 20 years. "I don't go out with my friends that much any more, too busy," she said. "But I used to go to the park. To the old De Young."

The tourist ladies missed their stop. At 3rd Ave. they got out and walked back to 6th to catch the 44.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Bus Report #920

This morning the 33 pulled in to the stop, a few minutes later than usual but not a big deal, hell, it's Friday.

I got on and went to sit down - and that's when I noticed the woman who often drinks very, very pungent garlic tea. She was taking big gulps from her thermos. The bus stank like garlic. I opened some windows. I'm a garlic lover, but at 6:45 in the morning and in an enclosed space? Nope.

She kept drinking her tea, and of course hacking and coughing as she often does. Is the tea a cure for the hacking and coughing, or is the hacking and coughing a side effect of drinking the tea? I will never know.

Later, the loud mother and daughter pair that rides the bus every morning got on, sat behind me and yelled at each other even though they sat shoulder to shoulder.

The bald yet thickly-bearded man who gets on at Waller stepped up into the bus and smiled at the driver, and sat towards the back of the bus.

Castro and 18th, the corner of the bank decorated with new memorial posters and flowers. Always a sobering part of my commute.

A man reeking of stale cigarettes stumbled up the back steps of the bus and slid into a seat behind me. He had greasy long hair, a black leather jacket, and pajama pants printed with the Julius the Monkey pattern. Incongruous. I had to laugh.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Bus Report #919

This morning on the 33...

A homeless man got on the bus by the park, weighed down with luggage. He shuffled to the back of the bus.
A moment later he walked up to the front of the bus carrying an expensive-looking woman's wallet - black leather with gold zipper and gold grommets.
The nerve, I thought, stealing someone's wallet and then using their money to pay his fare.

But no - he handed the wallet to the driver and indicated that he had just found it on his seat.

A good man.

High up on the hill before we turned onto Market, the city was blanketed in fog, and it was beautiful.
In the Castro, the gyro place on the corner of 18th and Castro had been transformed, on the outside, at least, back into a pharmacy - for the mini series currently filming around town, I assumed.

The rest of the commute was uneventful, and quiet, just perfect for a Friday morning.

Have a good weekend, readers!