Friday, July 27, 2007

Bus Report #244

This evening I took the 1 California bus home from downtown, after watching the film Once. It was a sweet film and definitely worth seeing.

Downtown San Francisco at night always looks like a movie set to me. It's so quiet and empty, the opposite of it's character during the day.

The bus came and I sat in a window seat as we rattled our way up Sacramento Street.
Chinatown always looks so beautiful in the fog. The lights and neon look fuzzy, the streets actually look clean. There must have been a funeral or a church service somewhere: There were tons of men in suits and ladies with flowers walking down Grant Street.
One elderly lady ran for the bus with her tub of cut flowers. A few flowers fell out. A moment later, a little girl came by and picked up the flowers. She gave them to her mom.

When I got back to my neighborhood, the fog was rolling in thickly. Sheets of it uncurled themselves over the streetlights.

The fog makes the familiar feel unfamiliar and spooky, and it makes the unfamiliar seem dreamlike and foreign.

Two people walked towards me.
Under the light coming from a nearby apartment building, I recognized a woman I ride the 38 with sometimes.
I mumbled a hello to her before the cold, damp weather set me off coughing.

Bus Report #243

The other day I had an appointment at my favorite building downtown, the Aztec Building (AKA 450 Sutter).
Afterwards, I made my way down to Sansome to catch the 10 Townsend.
The bus came and I got on, asking the driver if the bus would go all the way to the last stop.
She said, "All 10 Townsends go all the way to De Haro."
I didn't argue, even though recent reports from other riders dispute this statement.
I went to the back of the bus and ate my cranberry muffin.
MUNI recently re-routed the 10 and I was curious to see the new route. Some changes make sense, like stopping in front of the Citi Center, but I was not thrilled with the totally useless new loop the bus does down 2nd Street.
On 2nd, a man and a woman got on, with a baby stroller full of bungee-wrapped boxes. They took their sweet time getting on, and then they did not have adequate bus fare.
The driver said, "Why are you on this bus when you know you don't have your fare?"
The guy gave her some sort of lame answer. She repeated her question.
"We're just going a couple of blocks," the man said.
"I'm not moving until you pay your fare or get out," she said.
A man in the back of the bus decided he needed to get involved.
"Come, on man, pay your fucking fare, we gotta get to work!" he shouted.
The guy in the front of the bus told him to go fuck himself.
The driver pulled the bus over.
The man in the back of the bus said, "It's not free to ride the bus, man."
To which the guy in the front replied, "fuck the bus."
The driver put the fare dodger and his lady friend off the bus, saying: "You get what you give," as we all watched them leave.
Kudos to her. People are idiots, and the bus is not free for the rest of us.

Everyone was nice to her for the rest of the ride.

This morning, I waited at the bus stop with Nicolai.
"I can't seem to get up on time," he said. "it's been 10 days since I made this bus."
I told him I knew how it was.
Our smiley bus driver pulled up right in front of us. Nicolai let me get on first.
The driver said hello and good morning. Her smile is so wide it cuts her face in half, but it's nice.

At Fillmore, it was like attack of the rude people.
I was about to board the bus when the talking-to-himself guy cut right in front of me. I was taken aback and let him get on, only to then have another rude guy cut right in front of me.
What is wrong with people? If the 38 Geary riders can be polite, why can't the early morning 22 Fillmore riders be polite?
The commuters even 10 minutes later, like the dreadlocked dental technician, are so nice.
It's a mystery.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bus Report #242

As seen from MUNI:

A large, framed photograph propped up against the check cashing place at Geary and Fillmore. The photo was over-exposed or something: a dreamy-looking photo portrait of a large man who was bald, wore 70's style think glasses, and who was smiling. Someone had scratched out the midsection of the photo so that it looked as though something white had exploded out of the man's chest.
The frame was gold-colored but definitely not the genuine article.

I wished I had my camera with me.

This morning I got out of the bus and headed to the coffee shop for my daily fix and the newspaper.

Lined up on the stairs of the Potrero Center were five empty yogurt containers. They were surrounded by used paper napkins, plastic spoons and the foil lids from the containers.
They looked as though they had been eaten in a hurry.

A trash can was less than a foot away.

After I get my coffee I often wait on the corner to cross the street. The Catfish Face Guy waits there too, for his 9 San Bruno bus. He always cuts his eyes at me. I don't know why. Maybe he can read minds and doesn't like it when I call him the Catfish Face Guy.

Later, Emiliano sped by me on his skateboard.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bus Report #241

Our new 22 Fillmore morning driver isn't as nice as our old ones.
She doesn't pull the bus up to the curb and won't come anywhere near we are all standing.
I think it's on purpose but I can't figure out why.

I ended up getting on the bus right behind the weird, talking-to-himself guy who must work at the bathroom fixtures place near where I work (I've eliminated the other possible places. Not Cor-O-Van, or he'd have a monogrammed jacket. Not the dress factory, either).

He took his sweet time finding a place to sit.

I ended up next to the woman who always wears sunglasses. She is fine. Unlike Catfish Face Guy, she doesn't take up too much space, so that's nice.

We cruised down Fillmore, skipping stops at Grove, Oak, and then Haight.
Which wasn't right because there were four people waiting to get on.
Of course, they started yelling and thumping the side of the bus, therefore ending any chance she'd wait for them on the other side of the light.

We picked up a few people at Duboce: the Quit Staring At Me (QSAM) guy, and a couple of teenagers.

While I was reading the new Armistead Maupin book the other day, I noticed that any reference to Duboce Park, Duboce Triangle and Duboce Street was misspelled 'Dubose'. At first I thought it was a one-time mistake, but it was every time. Obviously not spell-checked by a native before printing, is my guess.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bus Report #240

The MUNI roundup:

Saturday- Rode the 38 Geary up to the Anza branch of the library.
Two teenage girls were sitting in front of me, discussing their boyfriends.
Girl #1, wearing a yellow sweater: I don't think I'm too into him anymore, ya know?
Girl #2, wearing baggy white sweater: Yeah, I get you. If he won't, like, pick you up at BART, that's like, not good.
Girl #1: Yeah cause like, I ain't gonna take fucking BART all the way down there, you know what I'm saying?

I thought, I totally know what you're saying.
They got out at 25 Ave., only to get back on a moment later.

After my library trip, laden with books, I walked back up the hill and headed to the bus stop. Two buses took off before I got there. I didn't care. Next Bus told me there'd be some more buses on the way. Besides, I had the new Armistead Maupin book, and wanted to read a little.
Five pages later I got on a 38L.

Monday- This morning I was on time for my bus, and my new favorite 38 driver pulled the bus right up in front of me, ignoring the waving hands of a woman in a white pantsuit who had been frantically trying to flag down the bus.

I got on. Miss Pantsuit got on.

I noticed that Tawan's Thai Food is still closed, hopefully just for vacation.

At Fillmore I waited with the antsy sewing lady and her friend. The bus came and they pushed in front of me to get a seat in the back. I ended up next to the Catfish Face Guy. He never moves over and I always end up sitting kind of sideways and it hurts my back. And he never smiles.

Our driver raced down 16th Street, not stopping at Church, Dolores or Guerrero.

At Valencia I watched the guys at Val 16 Market hose off the sidewalk. I used to shop there a lot when it was Casa Lucas. It's still a good shop, lots of GOYA brand products that I like to use. Si es GOYA, tiene que ser bueno. The Professor interviewed the GOYA people once, and they gave him a hat, and now he'll brag about his GOYA connections to try to get a rise out of me.
Sometimes it works.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bus Report #239

Last night I rode the 22 Fillmore with Ramon. We had a lovely time chatting, and bus luck was on our side: we were able to snag seats right near the back door.

Tonight I rode the L Taraval from downtown. It's been a while: I'd forgotten how fast the Metro is, how nicely climate controlled it is. It was air conditioned, a nice change from my usual stuffy MUNI buses. I had a seat near the door. A San Francisco police officer and his massive German Shepherd police dog. The dog was making a whole bunch of us nervous. He kept jumping up on the cop and getting dangerously close to where I was sitting.
Finally the cop and the dog got out at Civic center. I felt relieved.

MUNI has some new Hybrid buses on some routes. I was excited about them until I saw them: they are the same stupid buses they have in Boston now, the ones with limited seating and a raised section in the back. If MUNI plans to run them, they better have more buses on those routes, because they'll need them. It will take longer to get around and the buses will be super crowded.
Damn you, MUNI.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bus Report #238

Monday afternoon I saw the 10 Townsend pulling in to the stop, so I ran down the hill and caught the bus right before it took off. I slid in to a seat and smiled at Ebony, who had just gotten on. She sat with me and we talked about her job, our weekends, and gossiped about some of the other regulars.
"That lady sitting by the driver, can you believe she is 69 years old?" Ebony asked me.
I stared at the well dressed, animated woman sitting in the first seat. No way did she look like she was 69.
"Wow," I said.

Last night was a similar story. The 22 Fillmore was pulling in to the stop as I was coming down the hill, so once again I ran to catch the bus. Ramon was waiting to get on the bus, too. We hugged, then he tried to let me get in first, but I didn't have my pass out yet so I urged him to go first.
We sat in the back of the bus in rear-facing seats, with a very bored, unhappy couple sitting across from us.
They showed some interest in our movies-work-travel-holidays conversation, smirking a tiny bit or squeezing each other's legs in response to what we were chatting about.

When he got out of the bus, a couple of Mormon missionaries got on. 'Elders' who looked to be younger than my baby sister. No one in the back of the bus would make eye contact with them or even look over at them. I had my sunglasses on so I peeked at them. The one sitting closest to me had thin, wispy baby-like hair. They both sat straight in their seats in their white button down shirts and their neatly pressed slacks, clutching their books in their hands. Oddly enough, they did not try to talk to any of us. Usually, they will try to talk with the people nearest to them. If they talk to me I usually ask them how they like San Francisco, and then I excuse myself and put on some music.

After they got out at Fulton, another couple got on. The man, who was very loud, made his way to the back of the bus. The woman sat behind me and I couldn't see her, but if I turned my head I could see her fake extensions and bleachy streaks. They were your typical bus-riding couple: slightly rude guy taking up too much space in the back of the bus, overly-perfumed woman sitting closer to the front of the bus.
Until they started shouting across the bus at each other.
The woman's voice was deep, deeper and lower than the man's voice.
I thought, wait a sec, who's the third person here?
But no, it was just the two of them.
Huh, I thought. Interesting.

I switched to the 2 Clement at Sutter Street. There was a girl waiting for the bus. She had a cardboard shoe box with her, and held a tiny newborn kitten in her palm. The cat was a calico. He cried when she tried to put him in the box, meowing in the most heartbreaking way. He was so cute and needy! She had a doll-size baby bottle with her to feed him with. He didn't cry at all once we were on the bus. The girl held the shoe box very carefully on her lap. She got out of the bus a couple stops later.

In other news from yesterday, I baked a plum cobbler and finished one sleeve of my knitting project.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Bus Report #237

This week on the bus...

Monday - I went out to wait for the 22 after work, and ran in to Ramon. We had about three minutes to say 'hi', catch up with each other and hug before his 19 Polk came by.

Tuesday - I took the 19 Polk out to my knitting class. I sat in a window seat next to a man who wouldn't budge to let me in to the seat. He sat sprawled out so that his legs touched mine. He clasped his hands over the flap of his plaid messenger bag. At my stop he grudgingly swung his legs out so I could get out. Thanks, man. Really.

Wednesday - I had to run to catch the 38. The driver was one of my new favorite drivers. She has a wide, friendly smile and always waits for me even if I'm still running across the street.
I flashed my pass at her and said, 'thanks, good morning.'
The automated system must have been broken because she called out each stop. She even mentioned what transfers passengers could make at each transfer point. It was nice of her.

Thursday - Another afternoon chatting with Ebony on the 10 Townsend. She's doing well. We compared notes on thrift shopping. She's much better at it than I am.

Friday - Early morning Emiliano sighting: He's been riding his bike lately. I caught sight of him securing his bike out front the coffee shop. He was wearing his blue plaid flannel shirt and his Team Zissou hat. I was happy to see him. He looked fit. He even had some red in his cheeks.