Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Bus Report #137

I have been busing it A LOT this week, in the rain. No new news to report. Rain, MUNI, and needing to be places at certain times always equals a headache. Luckily, I've had buddies on some of the commutes, and music, and books.
Last night was the first night of Noise Pop. I signed up as a volunteer this year, just for the heck of it, and I will be at Thee Parkside every night this week from 5-8 if you want to come down and hang out.
As I was sucking down a ginger ale, waiting for B. to show up, a woman I see on the bus all the time came up to me.
She said, "We always run in to each other in the strangest places."
It's true. We've run into each other in clubs, restaurants and shops all over the city.
I said, "Yeah, it's nice to see you."
We shook hands and exchanged names.
There were other MUNI faces in the bar, and it was funny to try and figure out which lines I knew them from.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bus Report #136

Yesterday's Commute, Part II

Last night I wanted to go downtown, in the interest of birthday shopping for The Professor, Mom, Li'l Sis and The Favorite.
At the bus stop I had to wait for the 10 Townsend a while, but that was fine because I saw Ramon and we caught up with each other while waiting.
He is doing well, looks happier too, and was in a great mood.

After a sort-of successful downtown trip, I waited for the 38 Geary at Powell and Geary.
A familiar-looking woman walked up to the stop, and for a moment I couldn't figure out who it was. She rummaged in her pocket and came a little closer. It was Carmen!
"Hola, Carmita," I said.
She looked up, saw me and started laughing. We said in unison, "What are you doing here?"
She had come downtown to pick up some keys from her husband, who is a cable car operator.
I told her of my shopping exploits.
We had a nice ride on the 38 Limited together.
The ride went quickly, with the two of us chattering away like crazies in the back of the bus.
For the first time in our commute history, she pulled the signaller for me and I got out first.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Bus Report #135

A tale of two commutes

Yesterday: The 38 I usually take does not show up. Fleece Jacket Guy, Mr. Polite, Headphones Woman, Mrs. Pushy and I wait for 10 minutes.
When a 38 does show up, it immediately shudders to a halt and the lights go out. Mr. Polite and I exchange glances. "Monday," We mutter in unison.
The bus wakes up a moment later, and chugs along to 6th Ave.
Where it promptly gives up the ghost. The driver can't get the back doors open so we all file out through the front. There's a 38 right behind us and we all pile on.

At Fillmore, its raining. I wait under the shelter with the little family, standing as far away from the crazy homeless infected foot guy. Who is yelling at everyone within a two-mile radius, asking for cigarettes and lights and change.
Everyone ignores him. I turn up the volume on my Walkman.

The bus comes, and it is a new driver. How do I know this?
1. He lets the crazy man on the bus. None of the other drivers do, because he is really belligerent to other passengers.
2. He stops for the Watchtower ladies. Everyone knows they just sit in the bus shelter and never get on.

So I get to work later than usual, and it takes an hour!

Fast forward to today:
The 38 we usually take never shows up. The one that does come goes super fast, so that we are at Fillmore in 15 minutes.
The 22 is coming. I book it down Geary, with the little family running just ahead of me and a few other regulars bringing up the rear.
The bus is empty, I get a good seat.
At Church near the Safeway, someone has arranged the contents of several cases or oranges on a bench, along the fence, randomly placed on top of newspaper boxes, and even on one of the homeless people's trashbags. The oranges all have black stickers on them, but I can't read what they say.
The same guy who sat beside me yesterday (balancing a cup of coffee and a copy of Confederacy of Dunces) sits next to me again.
He smells like old beer, but he is polite and very into his book.
A woman with a shamrock tattoo on her wrist stands near us clutching the bar.
Our awesome driver won't let people in through the back, and she is no nonsense. We fly down 16th Street.
She puts some fare evaders off the bus at Mission.
We are so fast I am able to stop at the Potrero Center to get my little red thermos filled with coffee.
So three cheers for my 38 driver and my 22 driver this morning, whoever you are, you are brilliant!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Bus Report #134

It's been an average week over all.
Wet commutes, umbrellas, Carmen, the regulars, pushy people.

Except for yesterday afternoon.
I walked up to the 33 Stanyan early, as part of my attempt to get home early and go to the Laundromat.
The bus came quickly, I was able to get a window seat. I put on my headphones and let Elliott Smith and the rhythm of the bus lull me into sleepiness.
At Harrison, a woman got off the bus through the front, even though you are supposed to exit through the back door. As she got out, it looked as though she had shoved a man getting on. He cursed, she cursed, then somehow she fell off the stairs and was caught by a couple of people waiting to board.
That should have been the end of it. The man should have rolled his eyes. Said something about rudeness, or crazy people, and then settled in to read his book.
But no.
The woman immediately started yelling and screaming, saying, "I was assaulted! That man assaulted me! Call the police, I want to put a report on him!"
Everyone was baffled.
The man said, "No, YOU pushed ME."
The driver said, "Move on, ma'am, let those people board."
Those of us already on the bus heaved a collective sigh of resignation-we'll-have-to-get-off-the-bus-while-the-driver-calls-HQ-I-wish-she'd-leave.
So the woman climbed back on the bus and started verbally abusing the driver, the guy she shoved, and calling them all sorts of names. We knew she was crazy when she started calling them sluts.
She insisted on writing down the bus number and then wanted our driver's badge number. He told her he was not giving it to her, and she screamed, "I can see the numbers on your sleeve! Take off your jacket!"
There was what looked like a tussle of some kind. He finally took the jacked half off so she could scribble the number down.
People in the back of the bus started yelling, "Get off the bus you crazy bitch!" and, "Let's go, already!"
Finally, she got off the bus, still yelling about calling the cops, getting him fired, getting the man she pushed arrested for assault.
As we pulled away, I watched her get ready to board the 22 Fillmore that had been waiting behind us.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Bus Report #133

MUNI: 4 Rachel: 0

This morning, I left the house a moment later than usual and watched a 38 Geary, my 38 Geary, roll by without me.

The woman with the awful dogs came around the corner while I waited for the next bus. The dogs were both in sweaters, biting at each other and jumping.
I stepped all the way into the bus shelter to avoid them.

A few minutes later, after an uneventful 38 Geary ride, about fifteen of us waited for a 22 Fillmore headed towards Potrero. In the space of about four minutes, three 22s and one 1 California came in the opposite direction, one right after another.
To add insult to injury, a few minutes after their caravan of buses departed, a straggler came by.

My 22 Fillmore was late, packed, and the driver would not let us in through the back the way they usually do when loading or unloading a wheelchair. Luckily, the woman rides the bus all the time and is quite fast at getting her chair in and out. I sat squished against a man reading the newspaper.
The bus got more and more crowded with each stop. I figured at least one bus was late or had never come.
I had backpacks shoved in my face, newspapers opened in my hair, a Shasta Cola can tossed against my shoe.
At my stop, no one would move. I had no choice but to push a couple of people out of the way.
I hope the kids get a vacation soon. It would be a vacation for all of us.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Bus Report #132

Last night I found myself downtown after work. I took the 5 Fulton bus home, had a nice reflective walk home in the cold from Fulton and 6th.

This morning all the regulars were on the bus:
Mr. Polite (Polite as always)
Fleece Jacket Man (Quick nod of recognition, smile)
Carmen (Saved me a seat, gossiped about work until we got to her stop)
Ebony (Wearing a flowery scarf)
And many others.

The rain stopped right before I got to the Potrero Center.
I got my coffee and walked briskly the rest of the way to work. The neighborhood smelled clean, lots of branches down from the wind and all the storm drains were clogged with junk.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Bus Report #131

Slept restlessly last night, so I was up early and out of the house before the end of the California Report on KQED.

At the bus stop, I said "hi" to the fleece jacket man.
The woman with the horrible, yappy dogs in sweaters walked by with the little demons. Fleece jacket man and I exchanged glances. I rolled my eyes at the dogs.
He said, "Those dogs are awful."
I said, "I hate those dogs. And I see them everywhere."
He nodded. "Small dogs are always loud like that."
"No, I mean, I see THOSE SPECIFIC DOGS everywhere. At least once a day," I said.
He shook his head. "I'm sorry."

At Fillmore I caught the 22. Carmen was saving me a seat: she had her backpack on the seat next to her and did not make a move to pick it up until I slid into the seat.

I was lost in headphones oblivion when we pulled into the stop at 16th and Harrison. A man in a suit was standing next to the self-storage place, his briefcase balanced on his knee. He was viciously digging his finger into his nose. It was disgusting.
He saw the bus, grabbed the briefcase and ran to get on through the back doors. He stood in the step well and immediately started picking his nose again. Everyone stared at him, but that did not deter him one bit. If he had been able to get his whole hand in there, he would have.
When I got out at the next stop, I made sure not to touch the doors or bars near where he was standing.