Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bus Report #236

I am back from summer travels, at least for a while. I say, give me a bus over a plane, anytime.

As seen on the bus this week:

The mom with the little toddler: The baby was being super cute, flirting with the man sitting behind her. She got him to wave and talk in a babyish voice, and they played peek-a-boo for a while.

Weird guy: I saw this weird guy who had a Cuba baseball hat, several 'Impeach Bush' buttons, a T-shirt showing a vampire Bush attacking the Statue of Liberty, and a backpack with another Bush related T-shirt pinned to it. He also had, wait for it, a wristband decorated with the flag of....
Puerto Rico.
I bet he thought it was the Cuban flag.
It's called an atlas, buddy, check one out sometime.

He ended up in the aquarium store at the same time I was there, which creeped me out a little, because for a moment I thought, is he following me?
But then I saw he had some fish food and stuff and realized he was just shopping like me.

He was on my 19 Polk yesterday with a handmade sign badly scribbled on cardboard. The sign asked us to impeach our mayor, impeach Bush, and then something about a conspiracy, and he kept holding the sign up above his head and chanted, "Impeach the gambler, impeach Newsom. Impeach the gambler, impeach Newsom."
Everyone averted their eyes and pretended not to notice him.

I saw Emiliano twice, both times he sped past me on a bicycle. He was still wearing his flannel shirt and his Zissou hat.

Other locals seen recently:
Friend of British Look Guy

Sadly, the Handsome South Asian chef is nowhere to be found.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Bus Report #235

This is very cool!
MUNI is offering free rides on a specially marked hybrid bus from today until July 15. Today the bus can be found along the 10-Townsend line. Details might be available (I couldn't find any!) at or check out this article from today's Chronicle. How cool!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bus Report #234

Last night I rode home on an extremely crowded 38 Geary.

I sat squished against a succession of riders:
Elderly lady with lots of shopping bags, who got out at Union Square.
Very sweaty, smelly girl taking up her seat and most of mine too, who got out at Geary and Larkin.
Clueless Irish tourist girls, who managed to get in people's ways even though they were sitting down, and who had their purses gaping wide open so anyone could reach inside, who got out at 6th and Geary to go to the Abbey Tavern.

The fedora guy sat all the way in the back. He is usually silent, but I caught him mouthing the words to whatever song he was listening to on his headphones. He's really pale and usually looks like he's about to faint.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bus Report #233

MUNI News...
Service changes starting June 30.
Looks like they mostly affect people who ride the T-Third, 10-Townsend and people who miss the 15-Third Street.
Check it out here.

Bus Report #232

In which I tell a good story in a very, very vague manner.

Actually, I think I'll tell it like it's Mad Libs. That should be fun. Here's the reason behind the vagueness: I don't want the person I am writing about to read this and know who I am. It's more fun to stay anonymous.

So. Last _____ night, I was going to meet J. to go to hear The Teacher's Pet's band play at _____. I was going to take the _____ to the _____ and then walk down the hill to meet J., but when I got to the _____ stop, Next Bus said it would be 47 minutes before the, um, next bus.
Screw that, I thought. I unbuttoned my jacket and set off walking down _____ Street.
It was a good walk. I passed a lot of places I haven't been to in a while. There was a show at the _____, but the marquee said it was sold out.
There were a ton of people hanging out at the bar across the street. Most were smoking, clutching beers, or else had their bikes with them and kept a hold of the handlebars. All were wearing tight jeans.
I got to the corner of _____ and _____, my old street. During the walk I had been looking back every now and again to see if I saw a bus, but there were none coming. Instead, there were more unhappy commuters at each successive stop.
This time, when I looked back, I saw The Handsome South Asian Chef.
I waved and started to cross the street, but he was saying something to me so I took off my headphones.
"Hi," I said.
"Hey," He said. We fell into step together and crossed the street.
"It's funny," he went on. "But I see you everywhere, and then I'm like, there's that girl, my bus buddy."
"Yeah," I said. "I see you everywhere too." I was his bus buddy! If only he knew...
We introduced ourselves.
He is indeed a chef. He is also South Asian. I was relieved to have gotten it right, for once.
His name is _______. We shook hands.
He was headed for the bars in the Castro, tossing off names of current and now-defunct bars as we walked. When he talked, his hands fluttered around, punctuating his sentences. His beautiful dark eyes darted from me to where we were walking, and back to me. He pushed his curly black hair out of his face. He asked me if I had been a rider on the _____ back when a kid named Jorge rode on it.
"Nope," I said.
He proceeded to spin a story about a little boy with terrible manners, who's mom never bothered to discipline him. It made me happy to hear that he watched people on the bus as much as I do.
"Actually, I won't be on the bus anymore, probably," he told me. "I just had my last day at my current job."
As you can imagine, I was sad. No more handsome South Asian chef! So sad!
"We'll still run into each other," I said confidently.
We parted ways most of the way to the Castro.
"Have a good night," I said.
"You, too," he said.

Bus Report #231

For the third time in a week I had to hoof it instead of riding in style.

I don't mind, but there are a couple of downsides:
Lack of proper hydration- If I had known I was going to be walking from Divisadero and Geary to Castro and 14th, California and Baker to Clement and my street and 16th and Church to 16th and Rhode Island, I would have had more water beforehand.

Lack of proper footwear- Doc Marten's are comfy, but sneakers would be even better.

Lack of time to actually enjoy the walk- Well, that only applies to this morning's walk. The other two were lovely.

So back to this morning's commute-mare (that's commute and nightmare put together, aren't I clever?). I got on my usual 38 Geary, no problem. I arrived at the 22 stop with plenty of time to stand and soak in the sun and listen to some tunes. The bus came and I got a seat near the front. All was going well, until we hit Church and 16th Street. I've written before about the tricky turn the 22 has to do here. It's weird that they can't figure out how to keep the buses from coming off the wires at this turn, because it happens so often. Like this morning, for example. Only our wires didn't just come down: they fell down, hard, and then must have bounced back up or something. Our driver took his sweet time going to fix it, while our bus was diagonally blocking the intersection. I always feel like a sitting duck when that happens. I always think: this is the day that someone speeds through the light and slams in to us.
Our driver came back a minute later and gave us a thumbs' up. I thought, okay, I won't be too late now.
But he didn't move. He didn't do anything.
Finally, the man sitting behind me asked him when we would be going.
"They have to come untangle me," the driver said.
Thanks for telling us, man. Really.
We all got out.
I could tell that the wires/cables/arms whatever they are were hopelessly tangled. Even if another bus came, it wouldn't be able to get in front of our bus. Cars would be stuck, too, and the J Church.
So I started walking.
There was a pack of us walking down 16th. The further I walked, the more the pack thinned out.
I passed the Victoria Theater, where people were still tucked into sleeping bags beside the front doors.
I trudged up the small hill across from The SPCA.
There was construction at the Potrero Center. It drowned out my headphones.
I kept checking my watch. I ended up making good time, all things considered. When I finally got to work my co-workers told me I should call them next time it happens.
I don't know, though. Even though it was annoying, it was a nice walk.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Bus Report # 230

Last night I was coming home from a bar on Polk Street, so I decided to save money and wait for the 1 California instead of taking a cab.

The 1 California came quickly and I got a seat right away. I was sleepy and not really paying attention to what was going on, when the bus driver told us he had 'bad news'.
"The air compressor's busted," he announced. "Sorry, folks."
We all got out. Some people waited in the bus stop but most of us started walking. The bus had broken down on California and Baker. Too close to home to justify a cab, too late at night to wait for another bus that may or may not ever come.
So I walked up the hill, past the JCC, through the ghost town of Laurel Heights. At night Laurel Heights is shuttered completely. The only signs of life came from a coffee shop that was still open and a restaurant where the wait staff was counting out drawers.
The silence was a little unnerving for this city girl. The buckles on my shoes clinked as I walked. Soon I was on Arguello at Clement.

As soon as I turned the corner at the liquor store onto Clement, I was home.

There were people milling around outside the Plough & Stars, where a fiddler was playing in the front of the bar.
Le Soleil and Giorgio's were still crowded with people (hopefully) gorging themselves on fresh rolls, flaming beef, pizza and beer.
The scent of sweet crepes lured me in to Genki. I got a small bag of Egg Puffs to keep me warm as I walked the rest of the way home.
Rock music blared from the upstairs windows at the Rockit Room.
A bicycle was parked outside Green Apple, waiting for one of the booksellers to ride it home for the night.
As I passed 10th Ave., I could smell fresh baked bread from Boudin's.
I wasn't at my place yet, but I was home.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Bus Report #229

Tonight I rode the bus with Ebony, after a false start which found me running back to work for my wallet. I made it back down to the bus stop just in time.
We sat together and gossiped all the way to Market Street.

While I waited for the 38, I jammed on my sunglasses and put on some music.
I was the first person on the 38 when it eventually arrived.
I chose a seat in the back.
The bus filled up by the time we got to Union Square. There were shoppers, workers, teenagers and tourists. Everyone was packed tightly, sardine-like.
The driver skipped a few stops.
As usual, I read the sign at 'My Do Hair Salon' and wondered if it was actually pronounced differently. I peered through the window of the residential hotel near the Castle and looked for the Alien Donut Man. I think he lives there.

The bus emptied out at Fillmore.
At Divisadero, I caught a quick glimpse of the sad drunk boy. He had snuck in through the back.
A moment later I heard him talking on his cell phone. He was talking about work, and he sounded sad. He always does.
When I stood up to leave I saw him sitting a few rows back. He had his eyes closed and was slumped to the side. Even asleep he looked sad.

Bus Report #228

Yesterday afternoon I rode the 10 Townsend with Ebony. We had a nice time catching up. I also chatted for a moment with the girl I see around the block who is a nanny. She seems nice. The baby she watches is getting big, soon she'll be bigger than the nanny.

On the 38 I managed to zone out a little. Not much new along the downtown portion of the route. I paid special attention to the bus shelters, as MUNI is planning to replace them with new ones. You can see all the choices and vote for the ones you like (by THIS FRIDAY) on the SFMTA website.
There are some winners, but most of them are hideous.

This morning the 38 was teasing me as I tried to cross Geary. It took off as I was about to dash for it. I decided to screw it and walked up to a stop where I could catch the Limited. Boy, do I love the Limited. It skips every other stop, and I got down to Fillmore faster than usual.
I waited for the 22 with the dreadlocked dental technician and one of the teens. When our 22 came it was empty. I sat in a window seat and stared out the window the whole way down to work.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bus Report #227

Snapshots of bus people (in words, not photos. Because really, wouldn't that ruin your idea of who everyone is, in your head?)

I've seen him about 5 times this week, once on the weekend while we were walking opposite directions down 6th Ave. We said hi. The other day he told me his car had gotten hit, again, up on Anza. Poor guy.

I saw Carmen on the 22 Fillmore last week, but she didn't see me. She looked tired and suddenly a little bit old. It was alarming. When the crowd thinned a little, I called out her name. She looked over.
"What are you doing on the bus so late?" I asked her.
"I was teaching a dance class," she told me.
No wonder she was tired.

We keep missing each other. Either I'm getting on a bus and she's walking, or I'm walking and she's getting on a bus. She waves, calls out, "See you later, sis!" or something like that. It's sweet. Maybe we'll be on the same bus later.

The Handsome South Asian Chef
This morning our 22 was late and crowded. The driver never had control of the herds of passengers trying to crowd on. The Handsome South Asian Chef sat across the aisle from me. He coughed, per usual. I wondered if he worked in a smoky kitchen or something. He played with his cell phone, but kept his palm curved over the top of the phone so no one could see what he was doing. We were both mad about the late bus. I'd check my watch, suck my teeth and shake my head. He'd check his phone, sigh, and roll his eyes.

Liam (AKA British Look Guy)
I was on a crowded 33 the other night, on my way to hear Dishwasher Pete read from his new book. We were just passing Folsom when I saw a stick-thin man kind of... I don't know how to describe it other than bobbing down the street.
It was Liam.
He has the strangest walk. It's a cross between jumping and rising out of your shoes. And this is a man who wears securely tied boots. It was a nice sighting, since I hadn't seen him in a while.

Compulsive Man
I don't have a name for this man, other than Compulsive Man. He is obviously developmentally disabled and has a lot of weird obsessions/compulsions, most of which involve straws and stirrers from Peet's or else the little cardboard cups for ketchup from Mickey D's. This man is harmless. He is often on the bus, and other than needing to sit in the back of the bus, he is a fine commuter.
Apparently, yesterday's bus driver didn't think so.
She wouldn't let him on, even went so far as to tell everyone at Mission Street: "Don't let that man on. He is not allowed on this bus. You, please hold him back until everyone else is on."
Huh? Really?
That wasn't right, at all. If she does it again, I'm calling MUNI.