Monday, February 25, 2008

Bus Report #300

300? Really? Wow.
In honor of the 300th bus report, I'd like to offer a prize for the person who posts the best bus-related tale in my comments section by midnight on Friday.
You will win something, but I don't know what yet.
If you win, I'll send you something, so make sure to put your real email address in your comment.
I'll accept stories from any mode of public transit in any City, State or Country.

This weekend I rode a lot of buses, downtown, back home, to the store, home, etc.
Lots of wet umbrellas on Saturday, Lots of attitude on Sunday.

The teenage girl sitting next to me on the 38 yesterday day got 'hella sick' off of an unknown, yogurt based drink at a Vietnamese restaurant in the Tenderloin. I kind of wish she mentioned the place. Then again, as she conceded to her friend on the phone, it was possible she actually got sick because she 'had just gotten her tat' and had gone straight to the restaurant afterwards.
The funniest part was that she kept whining to her friend how she'd been misspelling her last name in Mandarin in her Chinese class for 'like a hella long time' and how she was going to have to ask her mom to help her.
I took the 2 Clement home after my errands were done.
I had to wait for the bus for 25 minutes, but at least when it came it was mostly empty.

And not related to MUNI at all:
Congrats to the Oscar winners I like:
Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova for best song, from Once, Great job!
Javier Bardem, the scariest serial killer I've seen in the movies in a long time for best supporting actor,
The Coen's and No Country for almost everything,
and My Beautiful Daniel Day-Lewis for best actor, well done!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bus Report #299

MUNI, you need to do something.
I'm not even talking about enforcing fares, not today.
I'm talking about ON TIME ARRIVALS.
Or even, just-five-minutes-late arrivals.
Case in point:
This morning I left my house earlier than usual, because after yesterday's hellish commute I just wanted a normal one, which left me time to go get the paper and some coffee.
The 38 came on time (the bus flagger tried to flag down the 38L, to no avail, then took off walking and I never saw her again), driven by the smiley driver.
I got to Fillmore at my usual time, and noticed that my stop was full of people I didn't know.
One of the sewing ladies who lives in my neighborhood decided to talk to me.
"I've been waiting 30 minutes," she told me, "and 7 buses in the other direction but nothing here."
I didn't really believe her, because 30 minutes would have meant a lot more commuters.
Ten minutes later, though, I started to believe her.
When our bus came, it was a different driver, not the kind of mean driver. I couldn't tell if that meant I was late, or the bus was late, of if the kind of mean driver was out today.
We all got on the bus (I sat next to a surly girl who was getting out at the next stop anyway, so her mood, totally not appreciated).
The bus got packed quickly. By Haight Street we really shouldn't have been taking on new passengers at all, but we did.
By the time I got close to work it was time to be at work, so no paper or coffee for me, again.
Meanwhile, there were no buses behind us while in the opposite direction I counted 11 22 Fillmores chugging their way down Fillmore.
Get it together, MUNI.
Don't even think about raising fares again until you can raise your on time performance.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bus Report #298

It should never take me an hour to get to work.
I know I say this a lot, but it's true. 40 minutes, tops, is my usual commute time.
I left home a little earlier than usual, figuring we'd have the usual MUNI freak-out due to the rain.
My 38 was crowded and the driver was not the smiley driver, but the guy who drives the bus that arrives before smiley's.
I got down to Fillmore and there were already a couple commuters waiting, along with the man who lives in the bus stop and another man who is usually crashed out across the street but must have been rousted by the Clean Team earlier, or something.
We waited.
When the 22 Finally came, it was late. The sort of mean driver didn't acknowledge my "good morning", per usual.
The Original Chef, the catfish face man, and the man who looks familiar from the back all got on at their usual stops.
The teens, all of them, got on at McAllister.
At Hermann and Haight the wires came down.
It took almost 10 minutes for the sort of mean driver to fix it, in the meantime she didn't tell us what was going on, so we sat in the dark on the bus, with no idea how long it would take to get up and running again.
As often happens, herd mentality settled in and over half the riders got out of the bus… To stand in the rain! Huh? The two buses behind ours were not going to be able to go anywhere until we moved, anyway. So they got wet and lost their seats for nothing.
The lights came back on and suddenly everyone who had just gotten out wanted to get back on.
We crawled down Church to 16th.
All the while I hoped we wouldn't fall off the wires again at the corner, which is infamous for that.
People got on, shaking wet umbrellas indiscriminately.
The creepy talking to himself all the time guy got on, and said hello to me (or to himself?).
I checked the time when I got out of the bus at my stop.
I'd been in transit for an hour exactly.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bus Report #297

Last week a man got on the 38. he had a backpack on, and he had stowed his takeout cup of coffee in one of those mesh pockets on the side.
He sat down next to me and took off his backpack.
That's when we both noticed the cover had come off the coffee, and it was sloshing everywhere: all over the bag, the seat, this guy's jeans, the floor….
I dug a packet of tissues out of my bag and handed it to him. "Not a great start to the morning, huh?" I said.
He shook his head ruefully. "Nope."
He mopped up all the coffee from the seat and the floor, then tried to wipe it off his jeans, to no avail.
He moved to a different seat.
The bus smelled like coffee for the rest of the ride.

This morning I had the sort of mean driver.
I was thinking she was getting a little nicer, but I was wrong.
At Mission she told us, through her scratchy, hard to hear PA system that she was going out of service at 16th and Bryant.
That was okay with me because that's where I was planning to get out today anyway.
But no.
Instead, she went out of service at 16th and Harrison, which is NOT the same thing, at all.
As I walked the rest of the way to work I passed two other busted 22 Fillmores. One needed to be pushed and the other had a couple of panels open on the side and looked like it may have overheated. It might be a Tuesday, but boy, it sure felt like a Monday this morning.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Bus Report #296

Friday there were a bunch of kids in the back of the bus, and they started to fight. Not a big scary fight, just kids fighting over seats and candy, things like that.
The kind of fight that no one else was paying attention to.
The sort of mean driver pulled the bus over and walked to the rear of the bus.
She shook her head, gravely, at the kids.
"No fighting or I'll put you off," she said.
To which one of the kids responded, oddly, "but SHE started it!" and pointed at a little girl who couldn't have been any older than 10 or 11.
It was funny. The driver just shook her head again. "No fighting," she said. And I swear, the kids were stunned into silence, at least until we got to Church Street.

At Church, a man got on the bus and started patting his pockets, looking for change. This happens all the time on the bus: people spend forever looking for change (that they probably never had to begin with) and hope that the driver will just wave them by.
The sort of mean driver was having none of it.
"Get out," she said.

Yesterday morning the weird guy with all the plastic bags was on my 22 Fillmore. He carries several double or triple bagged plastic bags, and has a weird habit of carefully putting his plastic bags on one seat, and then moving to a seat a few rows away.
It would be scary if I thought he had anything in there other than old newspapers and magazines. But he doesn't.
He put his bags down next to the annoying woman who gets off at Carmen's stop, and then went to sit in the back of the bus.

Last night on my 38, there was a very vocal, very drunk, and possibly crazy man sitting a couple seats away from me.
He was tall and very thin, with a ratty coat, a fleece scarf and blue-tinted sunglasses. He had a can of Olde English in a paper bag in his hands.
He wouldn't stop talking.
He reminded me of the guy who used to live under the stairs when I worked at WordsWorth. That guy, I can't remember his name (maybe George?) was barely lucid or understandable but every now and then he would catch your eye and say something that made perfect sense. It was unnerving.
Anyway, on the bus, this man went on and on about the election, and how important voting was, and about Jesus and how he had been in the war... And on and on.
The kid sitting behind me was trying to impress his girlfriend.
"Man, this would never happen in New York or Chicago," said the kid, who probably had never even been to New York or Chicago. "Man, there people would be all like, shut the fuck up already."
Of course, I couldn't see why he couldn't just tell the guy to shut up. I mean, the guy wasn't really bothering anyone. Most of the other passengers nearby were reading, listening to headphones or doing crossword puzzles. I was listening to his ranting, and smiling, because he was funny.
After some more bitching, the kid asked the guy where he was headed.
"Fort Miley," the guy said.
Somehow, they started to talk about the football game, and the crazy guy told the kid he used to play football.
"They called me Touchdown Davis," he said.
I liked that.