Thursday, April 27, 2006

Bus Report #142

I was on a packed bus this morning, and once again the only open seat was next to the guy with the duffel bag.
He is quite odd: he took a paper-towel wrapped object out of his back pocket and set it down on top of his bag. He carefully unwrapped it, revealing... HIS WALLET!
Then he took out some money, counted it and put it back. He flipped the wallet over, on purpose, perhaps? so that I could see a picture of a naked, blonde woman that he had in a clear pocket on the back. I decided to look out the window instead.
He re-wrapped the wallet and put it back in his pocket. He took out a pen and some paper and jotted down some notes.
He took out the wallet again and recounted the money.
At this point, I noticed that a vaguely familiar-looking man was trying to catch my eye. I didn't know who it was but figured he was another regular commuter.
I smiled.
He smiled.
I nodded.
He nodded.
Then he pointed to his shoulder, then to his baseball cap.
AHH......... I got it! He was wearing a Red Sox hat and he was trying to tell me he could see the Red Sox lapel pin I wear on my jacket collar.
A Sox fan! I grinned and gave him a thumbs' up. We smiled for the rest of the ride.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Bus Report #141

This morning I waited for the 22 with the mom and daughter who live on 9th Ave. and the mom and daughters who live on 6th Ave.
The Clean Team truck pulled up and the guy immediately started washing the whole bus stop with the high-power hose. I have always had a problem with this cleaning method, and here's why:
1. Way, way, way too much water is wasted on this, unless the bus shelter/stop is filthy, which ours isn't.
2. The spray from the hoses and the dirt it kicks up has GOT to be bad for us to breathe in.
3. As the guy cleans, all us commuters have to dance around him as he moves. It's ridiculous that they can't do the cleaning when MUNI is closed for the night and no one is around.

Our bus came and we all piled on.
Cheers to the man who was taking up an entire seat in the back of the bus: no one would sit next to him because he had his duffel on the seat, which meant that there was a seat for me when I finally made my way back there. Sure, he wouldn't move at all for me to slip into the window seat, but that's ok. I just took my sweet time squeezing past him, and enjoyed a leisurely ride to work.
He spent most of the ride paying his SBC phone bill with a check, while I listened to The Elected in anticipation of tomorrow's show at Bottom of The Hill.

And a non-bus related comment: Happiest of birthdays to the Favorite!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Bus Report #140

Last week was quiet and lovely since the kids were all on spring break.

Last Friday:

I was on a very crowded 22 Fillmore bus on Friday morning. Carmen and I were sitting in the front and we decided it must have been crowded because our favorite morning driver was on vacation or something. We spent our ride talking about all our past and present favorite drivers.
When it was time for me to get out, I pushed my way towards the back door with a few other people.
It was hard because, as always, there were people blocking the step well. We didn't make it to the door in time and our driver started to pull away.
We all shouted, "Back door! Back door!" and finally he stopped and let us out. As I made my way down the stairs, I felt as though I was being pulled back into the bus, not a feeling I wanted to have. I was even more determined than ever to get away from the bus so I strode forward a few more feet. I felt a tug on my jacket and then heard a 'ziiipp' sound. Someone's elastic cord from a backpack had somehow gotten looped over one of the buttons on my jacket, basically keeping me tethered to the bus! As the elastic cord snapped back, I mumbled 'sorry,' to the man in the step well, but I wasn't really sorry. He shouldn't have been standing there in the first place!

Monday afternoon:

It was gorgeous yesterday, all blue sky and a bite in the air but not even a hint of rain. I had no problem waiting, and waiting, and waiting for the 22 Fillmore, which just didn't seem to be coming. At least I was able to chat with Ramon while we waited. A bus came, but it was full, so we decided to wait a little longer. We wanted to be able to sit down, and it wasn't going to happen on the full bus.
Five minutes later we are happily ensconced in front-facing seats in the rear of the bus. We were in the middle of talking when a woman struggled towards the back of the bus with a gigantic suitcase. She knocked it into Ramon's legs and my feet as she tried to pull it in against the window. She finally got settled, apologized to all of us in the back of the bus.
It was no problem, and we told her so. We continued our conversation, discussing what we would probably have for dinner.
The woman said, "Oh, I had the best dinner last night, and wine in a box from Safeway, oh boy was it good. I'm usually a Budweiser person, but this Zinfandel was real nice."
For the rest of our shared ride, the three of us talked about food, the woman's six kids, and what we would have for dinner. The woman's daughter sat behind us definitely did not want anyone to know she was related to her. It was funny.

This morning:

Today marks the 100 year anniversary of the great San Francisco earthquake and fire. There are events marking the commemoration all over the city, so MUNI is free all day. Funny, though, that those of us who ride everyday still flashed our passes at the driver and many people walked to the rear of the bus stuffing unused fare into their pockets.

And lastly, and earthquake reflection:

I have only experienced minor tremors here in San Francisco during the past six years (thankfully!). The only real earthquake I ever felt was the one that rocked El Salvador several years ago. I was in northern Nicaragua, in a town called Quetzalguaque, with my friends and family. We were working together to provide optometric services to the people of the community.
We were in the middle of our clinic when we felt it. At first I thought it was the rumbling of a train or an airplane, but when all the townspeople ran out into the courtyard and the street we realized it was something serious. I ended up standing under a scraggly tree with the woman we had been examining, and her children. the tremor lasted about a minute or so. The woman clutched my arm. She was mumbling under her breath, praying.
It stopped just as suddenly as it started. We took a break for a few minutes and then got back to work.
Soon after, I was screening a man who told me he had been in Managua during the devastating quake there, and Mexico City during their quake, where he had been trapped under a bed for a few hours. That would have been crazy enough, but then he mentioned that he had been in LA during their quake, too.
That night, after a long drive to Managua (our group riding in two minibuses, one of which died, later, getting stopped by police outside Managua)we learned of the tragedy in El Salvador. What we had felt had been aftershocks.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Bus Report #139

You know you are crazy when: you recognize a former 22 Fillmore bus rider waiting in the bus shelter for a 38 and you tell yourself, excitedly, "It's Hy-Plains Beef Guy! It's Hy-Plains Beef Guy!" and then you notice he's wearing his same hairnet over his same oddly-shaped man-bouffant.

This week I've been coming in to work early and leaving a little later than usual, which means sitting with Carmen in the morning and Ramon in the evening.

Yesterday Ramon and I got on a crowded 22 Fillmore and sat in the back, where the seats face each other. After a while his phone rang and he took the call.
The Confederacy of Dunces man sat down beside me. He turned so he was facing me, his huge sunglasses on even though it was getting dark, and he said, "Hey, it's you. I always sit next to you."
I replied, "That's right, I didn't recognize you without your book. How's it going?"
"Aw, pretty good, I'm almost done."
We rode a few blocks in companionable silence, Ramon still on the phone, The Confederacy of Dunces Guy humming to himself.
At Valencia, a large, heavily tattooed (neck, hands, arms), sweat-stinking man got on. He sat across from me, and proceeded to crack all his knuckles. Then his hands. Then his neck, which he cracked by wrenching his head with his hands. It was a little alarming.
Ramon and The Confederacy of Dunces guy got out at Church and Market.
The tattooed dude smiled at me. There was something sticky on the floor, and we both stared at it.
"I think it was a kiwi fruit," I said.
He looked down. "Let's hope so," he said.
He got out at Oak and Fillmore. "You have a good evening," he told me, politely.

This morning it was raining. The 22 Fillmore was late, but when it did come, Carmen had saved me a seat. She dried it off for me with a tissue. We chatted all the way to her stop.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Bus Report #138

Now that Noise Pop is over, I am back to my normal transit schedule. This morning it was raining and the bus shelter was packed waiting for the 38 Geary.
Everyone except me had umbrellas, which had me thinking about the funny Perspective piece on KQED this morning, which was about umbrella etiquette, something 38 and 22 riders know nothing about.
On the 38, I sat next to a dripping wet guy who took up most of the seat.
On the 22, I sat next to a kid who spent the whole ride (Fillmore to 16th Street!) biting his nails. THE. WHOLE. RIDE. It didn't matter that I cut my eyes at him about eight times, he just kept chewing. Gross.
At Valencia Street, a man tried to get out through the back doors but he did not know he needed to step down. After a minute or so of watching him shake the doors, I called out, "Step Down!"
He nodded and proceeded to fall down, hard. It had the same effect, though, and he was outside a moment later.