Monday, May 21, 2007

Bus Report #226

The Russian Businessman's name is Nicolai. We were waiting at the stop together and he said, out of nowhere, "I'm Nicolai, by the way."
I said, "Nice to meet you, Nicolai, I'm Rachel."
"I used to know another Rachel on the bus, but she got a new job," he said.

At the Fillmore stop I waited with the dreadlocked dental technician and the teenager who always stands in front of me. I could tell we were all waiting with a hint of dread, remembering Friday's bad commute. The bus came in to view.
I said, "Glad it's not a repeat of the other day."
They laughed and agreed.
On the bus, I sat next to Carmen's favorite Everett student. He was doing his homework, something about current events. He was writing about the whales in Sacramento.

I got out of the bus early and walked the rest of the way from the Potrero Center. Several 22 Fillmores drove by.

The handsome South Asian chef was sitting in the back of one of the buses. He saw me and waved, and smiled. I smiled back.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bus Report #225

This morning's commute was bad.
It started out okay: easy ride on the 38 Geary. I saw D. he was planning to take the 38 to the 10.
I joked, "Let's see who gets in first."
Jokes on me. D. probably got to work half an hour before I did, at least.

So on Fillmore, I waited at the stop with the dreadlocked dental technician, the girl who always stands in front of me, the handsome South Asian chef and a bunch of other regulars.
I listened to NPR. I watched 5 22 Fillmores pass us in the opposite direction.
Finally, 15 minutes later, a 22 Fillmore came to get us. By now the number of people waiting had doubled. I got on and went straight to the back where I sat in a forward-facing seat.
The handsome South Asian chef sat in the rear-facing seat right in front of me.
He was tired. His usually wide eyes were a little smaller. He kept yawning, placing both hands over his mouth. He didn't have a Walkman or backpack with him today. Instead, his pockets bulged with stuff.
It was obvious that he was annoyed at the lateness of the bus. So was I. He sat hunched over a little with his hood up. Every now and then he would tuck his hair further back under the hood. He would look at his watch, then roll his eyes and shake his head. We smiled at each other and it meant, 'this sucks. We're going to be late, these kids are driving us crazy, but what can we do?'

"I've seen at least 13 go by in the other direction," I said softly.
He nodded. "At least it's Friday," he said.
At Bryant he got his cell phone out of his pocket and called someone. I couldn't hear them but I imagine he was calling work to report his lateness.
I got out further down the route than usual.
"Have a good weekend," I told him.
"You, too," he said.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bus Report #224

Yesterday morning as I walked to work from the bus stop, a bird landed on the back of my head.
I felt its talons dig through my hair.
"Stupid bird," I said, shaking my head to get rid of it. I felt a pang of guilt: I love birds. I've loved birds ever since I got a parakeet at age 11.
Whatever bird had landed on my head took off and I thought it went up into a nearby tree, but I couldn't be sure.

Later that aftenoon on the way home, I saw the Sad Drunk Boy on the 38. He smiled at me. His eyes were slits but I could see how sad he was behind them. It made me a little sad, too. He turned up his music and stared out the window.

Tonight I stood in the bus shelter, reading Amulet by Roberto Bolano. Suddenly, Ebony was next to me. "You better get to the back of the bus," she said. We both laughed and shook our heads. The joke will never grow old.

We got on the 10 Townsend, where we were joined by BT and several people from my old building.

I was home in an hour.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bus Report #223

In which yours truly feels like she's in the Twilight Zone, drinks too much, and listens to some music (after getting off the bus, of course).

Yesterday afternoon I hurried home so I would be able to go back out again. I chatted with D. while we rode on the 10 Townsend. Saw Ramon out the window and we waved at each other rather frantically for a minute.
A girl got on at the next stop carrying four multicolored hula hoops. Instantly, I thought of Jess and the hula hoop practice she used to do at the old apartment.

Later, I went back out to meet JC at his place. We were going to go to my favorite club in the city to hear some bands.
First, I ended up on a 38 Geary with the handsome South Asian chef. We smiled at each other, did the casual half-wave, and said 'Hi'. We were both dressed for going out, and it was a little funny to see him once again without his cap and chef's clothes.

I caught a 24 Divisadero and he would have, too, if the Next Bus sign hadn't said the next bus was in 40 minutes. Luckily (and unluckily) the sign was wrong and it came in ten minutes. I got to JC's place and after he finished dinner we headed out, catching a 22 Fillmore with ease.

When we got to the club it wasn't very crowded but I immediately spotted some familiar faces: The Depressed CCA Student and British Look Guy. I felt a little thrown off my game, I have to admit. One bus commuter sighting is enough, two is just weird.

And then it got weirder.

Lil, a woman I see everywhere (including the 38 Geary) walked in.

The opening bands played and who was in one of those bands?

British Look Guy. Of course.

I probably confused JC because I got all excited to see what British Look Guy would do. Ha ha, I saw him play a musical instrument! I saw him sing! I saw him tell jokes and drink a beer! It was just too funny. Meanwhile, Lil stood on one side of the stage watching the band while the Depressed CCA Student stood over in the corner, slouched over and not moving.

After their set we got some more drinks. Watched the crowd. Waited for the headliners to come on. After they played, it was getting late and people started to leave. JC and I finished our drinks. And then...

British Look Guy walked up to me and held out his hand. "Hey," he said. "I used to see you on the bus all the time. I'm Liam."
I was taken by surprised but I politely shook his hand and introduced myself. Then the guys shook hands too.
"You guys were great," I told him. Then I admitted, "I was surprised to see you! I saw your neck tattoo and I was like, hey, I know that guy."
He laughed. The three of us chatted for a little bit, talked about the bus and the city and music. Finally, sadly, it was time to go.
British Look Guy! Handsome South Asian chef! Depressed CCA Student! Lil!
What a night.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bus Report #222

Yesterday's afternoon commute was an exercise in patience.
First, a nanny I know from around the neighborhood and I had to run at breakneck speed to catch the 22 Fillmore.
Luckily, the bus was still pretty empty and we were able to get seats.
"We made it," she said, breathlessly, to which I could only nod my agreement while I regained my breath.
The bus was hot. I forced open a couple of windows.

When we reached Bryant the bus got packed:
First, the driver got out and a new driver got on.
Then a whole herd of Safeway shoppers loaded down with plastic grocery sacks got on.
Finally, a young man in a wheelchair needed to get on and no one would move for him.
Instead of clearing the front of the bus like they should have, everyone stood up on their seats so he could get by. A man tried to lift the seats to make room, but they were stuck. A woman with long braids finally managed to get the seats up. The man in the wheelchair positioned his chair and we were off.
At some point, the man's baseball cap fell off. He motioned for help and a girl in a white dress picked it up. She set it on his head with the brim facing forward. "Is that okay?" she asked him.
He nodded.
A little while later, he motioned for the man standing behind him to hand him his backpack. The man standing behind him unzipped the pockets for him and the man in the wheelchair took something out. The man standing behind him then carefully re-zipped all the pockets and hung the pack on the handlebars the way it had been before.

The next few stops seemed to take years instead of minutes. People pushed their way on and off the bus. There were, in my opinion, too many people wearing exercise clothes or last summer's tank tops that were now too tight. Too many sweaty people in fleece jackets who had obviously not seen the weather report that morning. Too many teenagers shouting into cellphones.

At Mission, we idled through three light cycles while our driver waited for every last person in the Mission District to get on the bus.

I looked out the window while we waited for the light to change at Valencia. I saw a beat-up grey pick up truck next to us. A man was hanging out of the passenger side window, and he was looking up at the bus.
I looked down to see who it was.
It was the handsome South Asian chef, only without his baseball cap. His hair was longer and thicker than I would have guessed. When he saw me, he laughed and waved at me.
I smirked and waved back.
This is a tiny city, and it gets tinier each day.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Bus Report #221

This morning I saw the dreadlocked dental technician for the first time in a long time.
I said, "Long time no see. Where have you been?"
"Well, I've been in Kaiser Hospital," he said.
"Oh, man. Well, welcome back to the real world," I told him.

A man sat next to me later on. He had several flip-top notebooks with him, covered with random English words and their Chinese equivalents.

A sample (of the English words):
Delivery Service

Yesterday afternoon I saw the Alien Donut Man in the donut shop. He tried to smile at me but I rudely hurried past before he had a chance.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Bus Report #220

Quiet, early bus this morning. The seat next to mine was covered with rain water, so no one wanted to sit there, which was fine by me.
QSAM got on at his usual stop and commenced the staring.
At Church and Market, the dad with the little 3-year old boy got on. At the next stop, a man/boy with a Spiderman face mask got on and sat across from the little boy. The kid was in awe. He looked at Spiderman, looked at his dad, looked back at Spiderman. He pointed at Spiderman, but Spidey didn't notice. QSAM smiled at the kid, then checked to see if I was still there.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Bus Report #219

Not much to report on the bus front.
I've managed to get an early bus a few days this week, so I was able to catch up with Carmen. She is doing well.
I was walking from the bus to work when I heard a skateboard approaching slowly. I moved over to the side. The skateboarder finally came alongside me. I'd recognize that green plaid shirt and Team Zissou cap anywhere... It was Emiliano.

Last night I think I fell asleep on the 22 for a few blocks. We were on Church and then suddenly, we were on Eddy. Hmm.

Nothing else to report, except HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my mom! She turns even more delightful today.