Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bus Report #151

Where to start? Here is a random selection of bushaps from the past week.

Homeless man playing harmonica at 7:15 AM on the 22 Fillmore.

Adorable pair of 8 year old twins in red jackets endearing themselves to a pair of English girls by shyly asking, "are you English?" to which the English girls replied, "yes, are you sisters?"
The little girls nodded. "Twins," the taller one said softly.

A tourist in full tourist regalia: shorts, sandals with white socks, transit map, T-shirt not warm enough for our weather and then, a fashion statement that inspired several double takes from me and the other regulars: a stuffed monkey doll wrapped around his neck, the monkey's velcro hands grabbing him behind his head.

Tuesday, the shaved-head driver pulled the 22 Fillmore right up in front of me like he always does (three cheers for him, his friendliness, his patience!) and one of the teens almost knocked me down, cutting in front of me to get on the bus.
The shaved-head driver said, "Hey! You almost knocked the lady over! You get off the bus and wait for everyone else to get on first, you do NOT do that!"
And the kid got out and had to wait for the sweatshop ladies, the moms and kids and the other summer school kids to get on first.

I almost fell in Carmen's lap yesterday, getting into my usual seat.
"Sorry about the almost lap dance," I told her.
"That's ok," she said, and then, laughing, "I like that."
I had a laugh too. "That one was free, next time you pay," I told her. We both laughed again, then settled into our usual routine: she tells a story, I smile and nod and listen.

Crowded bus last night. Said 'hi' to Ebony, who was sitting a couple of seats away from me. The bus grew more crowded. Two sweatshop ladies sat down, one next to me and one behind Ebony. They chatted loudly, even when there were too many people on the bus and they could not see each other anymore.
The lady sitting behind Ebony suddenly started yelling extremely loudly in Chinese. I was startled to hear Ebony say, "Are you talking to me? Because if you are, you need to speak English. I don't know Chinese."
The lady said, "Yes, you pushed me."
WHAT??? Ebony had been sitting, quietly, unobtrusively for the past 20 minutes.
She said, "I am not the person you should be mad at, you should be mad at the woman who pushed you, and that was not me."
The woman said, "I'll call the police."
"Fine," Ebony said, turning back around. "You go ahead."
More yelling in Chinese. People sitting nearby sucked their teeth and shook their heads. At Mission, the sweatshop ladies got up, still yelling at Ebony and staring at the bus when they were out on the sidewalk with their bags.
A man sat beside me and said, "crazy."
I had to agree.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bus Report #150

I spent my evening yesterday at the Castle, listening to Davy Rothbart from FOUND magazine read from the mag. It was great. His brother played some songs based on some of the FOUND notes, including one about Beer versus the Bus. He referenced the 38 Geary, which had me whooping and clapping from the back of the room.

Afterwards, I went out to the bus stop to try to get a cab.
There were none coming. I tried to hail a truck with a shiny ladder in the back and a few cars with bright lights. A homeless man offered to get me a cab, which I politely declined. He was persistent, but I did not bite.
The 38 Geary came just in time and I got on, leaving the man in the bus stop to bug someone else.
As seen on the 38 last night:
Two men standing together, obviously friends. One had a T-shirt that said, 'chocolate meat', the other had a T-shirt with a huge slice of chocolate cake on it.

A man carrying a Safeway plastic bag full of windup toys. He took out the wind up Godzilla that spits sparks and another one that looked like a Kangaroo.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Bus Report #149

Good Will on the 33 Stanyan

Yesterday afternoon a family got on the bus at Mission Street. The mom held the little girl, who was maybe about 2 years old. She was crying her eyes out and would not stop. The dad held the girl's stroller and a balloon from Farmacia Remedios. The girl must have just gotten a shot or a physical or something.
The man sitting in front of me was on his way home from work. He wore a perfectly clean white button down shirt and expensive-looking sunglasses. He reached into his pocket and drew out a starlight mint, which he offered to the still-crying little girl.
She stopped crying for a minute and just stared at the man, who smiled at her and at her mom. The mom carefully unwrapped the candy and the little girl popped it in her mouth.
The mom started wiping the girl's wet cheeks with the back of her hand. The man quickly gave her a tissue. Smiles and nods from mom, girl and man.
The girl stared at the man solemnly until he got out at Castro.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Bus Report #148

This morning I sat next to a woman who refused to fold her newspaper so it was not in my face the whole ride. I felt it was perfectly all right for me to read over her shoulder since the pages were practically shoved against my cheeks.
When she got up, I had the depressed CCA student sitting next to me, his shoulders all hunched forward, thick black-frame glasses falling to the edge of his nose.
The Confederacy of Dunces guy was wearing a T-Shirt that said: Israel Is Real!
It was funny.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Bus Report #147

Today is the last week of school for the San Francisco Public Schools!
Until summer school starts the commute will be smooth and sweet.
I took my time this morning yet still made my buses and connections without any trouble.
The only regulars I saw were Alex, the man with the horrible glasses, the security guard, and the mom and daughter.
At Potrero I got off the bus and headed to Peet's for coffee. They are so nice there, so this is an acknowledgement of my love for the folks at the Potrero Center Peet's.
As I passed my afternoon bus stop I saw the Teacher's Pet. She had just watched her 10 Townsend take off without her. She decided to take the 19 Polk instead, and I just hope she has gotten to work by now. Sorry we put you on the wrong bus, Teacher's Pet! I don't think she'll ride the 19 again, after her long ride this morning.
The empty lot next to Anchor Steam has ankle-high grass in it and it has the fresh, summery smell that I miss from summers spent in Downeast, Maine. I lingered at the fence for a moment taking a few deep breaths.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Bus Report #146

My commute is back to normal, after a couple of weeks of late buses, early buses, friendless buses.
Spent yesterday afternoon commute chatting with Ramon.

On the 38, I watched someone sit down on a wet seat. I thought he'd jump up, but he did not even seem to notice.

This morning I sat with Carmen, after saying 'hi' to the security guard (I always let him on before me and he always sits in the front), the mom and daughter, and the quiet teen. We chatted in Spanglish, per usual. The couple sitting behind us was listening in.

Confederacy of Dunces Guy was still wearing his clothes from the other day. He has been smiling a lot lately, flipping the cassette tape in his Walkman at least once a commute.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bus Report #145

This morning Carmen had saved me a seat. We started gabbing before I was even in it.
"See that guy?" I asked her, in Spanish, pointing to a homeless man outside who was pushing a vendor cart* (as opposed to the standard shopping cart).
She smiled and nodded and said, "Yes, he is my boyfriend, he is waiting for me but I told him I was not interested."
I couldn't help but laugh.
She opened her backpack and took out a huge faux-leather photo album of pictures from her last trip to Mexico. We spent a very pleasant commute looking at her photos from Carnaval. Awesome.

The Confederacy of Dunces Guy got on the bus and sprawled out in a seat in the front. There was something about his messy hair, cracked-yet-still-functional Walkman and huge hideous sunglasses that just made me happy.

*The homeless man's cart: It was white laminate on four wheels, with several drawers on the front. The top of it had a little rim so things could sit on it without falling off. He had two empty paper cups on it, and at one point pulled a baggie of tobacco? pot? out of one of the drawers and rolled himself a cigarette (or joint?)which he held in his mouth but did not light.
While waiting for the bus I watched a homeless woman weave down the sidewalk and ask him for a light. He rummaged in one of his drawers for a lighter and lit her cigarette for her. Then he put it away and leaned over the cart, his elbows on the top of it. That's how I left him.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Bus Report #144

FCN is back from a short hiatus.

Yesterday I took the 22 Fillmore to the PH, to brunch with The Teacher's Pet.
My bus was relatively empty, and there was a man in the back of the bus singing most of the way. At Bryant Street he started to tap dance. We all stared. Some teenage girls smirked at him.
He got out at the next stop and I watched him walk, quite ordinarily, down the block.

After a most delightful brunch (breakfast burritos! Ira Glass! David Sedaris! Jon Ronson! Teacher's Pet!) The Pet and I walked down to 17th to catch the 22 again.
At the corner of Arkansas and 17th we saw the 22. I gave the driver a half-wave, hoping he'd stop and let us on. No go.
So The Teacher's Pet and I ran for it, crossing 17th without looking, running towards the stop at 17th and Wisconsin.
We thought we could get around a truck parked near the wire-fencing company, but there was no way we could both go that way. I ran around the back of the truck while she wove her way through the maze of rolled-up wire.
During our mad dash we had to be careful: we were carrying full cups of coffee from Farley's.
I have to hand it to the bus driver: he waited for us.
He waited while we ran, coffee cups sloshing, while I laughed and panted and dug in my bag for my pass.
We collapsed (carefully, so as not to spill more coffee!) into an empty seat.
Got off the bus at Guerrero to check out Needles and Pens in their new location.