Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bus Report #203

No one asked me if I had a cat in my sewing machine case last night.

But the bus was still quite late, so the deja vu has not ended yet.

At the bus stop, I reluctantly got to talking with the guy who was sitting there. He seemed a bit twitchy and on edge, so I couldn't tell what his story was.
His name was Thor and he had missed his shuttle to the VA Hospital.
"They told me I got lung cancer, can you believe it?" he asked me, before he was attacked by a coughing fit. "I'm way too young for this," he went on. "Way too young."

I agreed, because he was young. He said he'd been in the Vietnam war, but not actually IN Vietnam. "Silo in the middle of North Dakota," he said, rolling his eyes. "Just as bad."

He told me several times that he had missed the shuttle, and that he was worried that, without bus fare, the driver wouldn't let him ride over to the North Bay. I suggested he show the driver his VA ID.

We waited. And waited. And waited some more. I kicked the bus shelter in frustration. I punched the side.

"You're getting mad now," Thor said.
"I've got class in half an hour," I said.
"I got a PET scan Friday in San Rafael," he said. "Tell me what all I got in here."
"Hopefully nothing too bad," I told him.
"Yeah. I mean, if they gave me a date I'd just go wild, crazy, go out with lots of pretty girls."
Oh, bus gods, I thought, rescue me before Thor asks me out!

The bus came ten minutes later. The driver took pity on my new friend and gave him a ride.
"Have fun at your class," Thor told me before he got off at his stop.
"Good luck," I replied.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Bus Report #202

Late Valentine's Post

I wanted to get my haircut before my trip to Portland (which was well over a week ago now), so I hopped on a 22 that was only going as far as the Potrero Center. This was fine, because my whole plan was to catch a 33 up to the Haight, anyway.

When I got on the 22, I noticed a lot of people carrying flowers or Valentine's-themed gift bags. I was surprised to see one of the regulars from the 10 Townsend, who was sitting in the front of the bus clutching a bouquet of flowers.
For convenience sake, let's call him BT and let's have BT stand for Beantown. There is just something about this guy that reminds me of Boston. I think it's his attitude. His style of dress is non-descript for the most part: black jeans, black skateboarding sweatshirt, ball cap. wallet on a chain. Skating sneakers. But he has an overall attitude that seems direct and blunt, New England-y in it's practicality.

"How sweet," I thought, watching BT shift in his seat so as not to crush the flowers. "He's taking a different bus than usual to bring his girlfriend flowers."

At Potrero everyone got out of the bus and went to wait in the stop in front of the nasty chicken chain.
BT stood nearby me. We both watched a girl with a seeing eye dog walk over near the bus shelter. She wasn't blind, not that I could tell. Maybe she was just training the dog or something.
No buses came at all.

BT saw me and smiled. We ride the 10 Townsend together a lot, and he always says "Hi," or "How's it going?" as he makes his way to the back of the bus.

"Hey," BT said. "Does the bus that stops here go up to Mission?"
"Sure," I told him. "Actually, all the buses that stop here do. So you've got a bunch of choices."
"Cool," he said. "I never go this way, but I got to go visit my buddy in the hospital."
I gasped, said, "God, I'm so sorry."
BT just shrugged. "Nah, it's cool," he said. "He's in one of them... What's it called? When like, they pay you to be in the hospital?"
"A medical study?" I offered.
"Yeah, one of those. So when he gets out, he'll have, like, a couple thousand dollars or something. But he's real bored right now, so... I'm gonna go visit."
I looked at the bouquet of flowers. Not for a girlfriend, after all, I thought. He's bringing them to his friend in the hospital. Still sweet, but in a totally different way.

The 22 came before the 33 did.
"See you around," he said before getting on his bus.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Bus Report #201

Saturday I high-tailed it down to Polk Street to meet M., after spending a quiet morning participating in the Green Apple Books Read-a-thon, to benefit 826 Valencia.

I was still sleepy after my short stint reading in the cozy window of the Green Apple bargain store, and I almost missed my stop.

I crossed the street and passed by the Love Cafe, where I saw A. sitting in the window with her boyfriend. I mouthed a 'hi' to her and tapped my watch in a 'I've got to go meet someone' gesture. A man walking behind me laughed at my inventive sign language.

I walked down Polk until I reached the meeting spot. It was just starting to rain a little so I ducked under the awning and pulled out my little writing book so I could jot down some notes while I waited.

I noticed a couple of men nearby, their heads down as they fumbled with car keys and change for a parking meter. One of the men looked up: It was the Handsome South Asian chef!

He looked at me and smiled, and sort of laughed. "Hey, how's it going?" he said.
I smiled, too. "Great," I told him. It was funny to see him outside of our usual setting. He always dressed casual but this time he had a more put-together casual look going on, and no baseball cap.
He and his friend walked past me and into the bar next door.

M. showed up a minute later.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Bus Report #200

Have I really written 200 MUNI-related posts? Yikes!

Last night after catching up with The Teacher's Pet, I waited at the the MUNI stop at Church and Market. It was raining, a very fine, misty rain and it was cold. There was one other person at the stop, a man with a lot of plastic bags that he was busily shoving into a backpack.
I didn't really want to wait for the 22, so I decided I'd catch a cab or take the bus, whichever happened first.

I got to talking with the plastic bag stuffer while waiting for a bus that was not coming and for an unoccupied cab. He had a familiar-sounding Spanish-speaking Caribbean accent.

The man mentioned the Chronicle article about the buses being 70% on time.

I said, "Amazing that the 22 was not on the trouble list."
He agreed. He said, "You know what they call the 24 Divisadero?"
"What?" I asked.
"They call it the 20-Forever!" he said, smiling.
"The 20-forever," I said, testing the name out. "That's awesome."

Five minutes later, our 22 came.
I still half-had the cab plan in my head, for when I was waiting for the 38, but it turned out that the 38 came right away. I stood in the back. It smelled like spilled beer.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

MUNI check In

According to yesterday's Chronicle, MUNI is running 70% on time.
Well, that's great, but it means it is running 30% NOT on time.
At least the biggest trouble lines are not the ones I ride.

But still.

Bus Report #199

Am I in some sort of time warp or something? After waiting a full 25 minutes for the 28 bus last night (with me getting madder and madder every minute) the bus finally came. I sat in the back with a couple of guys and another person headed to class at Fort Mason. She and I complained that we were going to be late, complete with head shaking and 'what can you do?' sighs.

A man sitting nearby asked me, "Do you have any animal in there?"

Wait a second....

Didn't we do this last week?

"No," I said. "That would be mean, cause there's no air holes."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bus Report #198

Or How Rachel Makes MUNI Work For Her

Last night I had my class at Fort Mason again. I took the 22 & the 38 home, said 'hey' to the fish, then grabbed my HUGE totebag and my sewing machine in its carry case and headed for the 28 bus.

The 28 came and I got on, managing to score a seat in the back of the bus. My neighbors were a teenage boy with horrible skin (poor kid), an older man who wouldn't stop smiling and a boy who was so delicately beautiful it took me a moment to realize he wasn't a girl.

The smiling man said, "Can I ask what's in that case?"
"It's a sewing machine," I said.
"Oh, cause I thought maybe it was a cat carrier."
"God, what a mean person I would be to have a cat in here," I told him. Because, you know, the sewing machine case has no holes in it and it latches shut at the bottom.
He kept smiling. "Yeah, you looked too nice to be carrying around a dead cat," he said.
Well, what kind of reply do you give to that? I just grinned and nodded my head.

Everyone got out along Lombard except me and the beautiful boy. He was wearing jeans with a rose embroidered on the thigh and had an ipod clipped to his sweatshirt. He pulled a small compact mirror out of his backpack and stared into it.

We rolled down Lombard, past all of the old-fashioned-looking hotel signs and flashing neon. I'm not one for the Marina, but there's something about that stretch of Lombard that throws me into a time warp and I feel like I am a tourist in the 50's.
The 28's last stop was right across from Fort Mason. Who knew that classes at Fort Mason were so convenient, if gotten to on the bus?
Thanks, MUNI!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Bus Report #197

The bus luck continues...

I had a class at Fort Mason on Tuesday, and while I knew how to get there I was not sure about where to catch the 28 to get home. I went to class early so I could scope out the transit situation.
Just my luck, the bus stop was across the street from Fort Mason. Easy.
After class I crossed the street to wait with a painting student and an older man with multiple plastic Safeway bags.
The bus came and we got on, and I dozed on the ride home.

Last night I took the 10 Townsend to Fremont and Market, in order to catch the 38 or a 38L. As we approached the stop, I saw there were two buses already queued up: a 38 and a 38L! There was no way I would make either of them, as our 10 was still in the middle of the street and not near the stop yet. I asked the driver, a driver I see every time I ride the 10, if I could just hop out right there. He opened the door for me and I bolted out. I caught the 38L without a moment to spare.
As I slid into my seat, my boots skidded against the floor and made a loud squeak.