Sunday, April 20, 2008

Bus Report #317

I took a 33 home this afternoon from the Mission.
When we got up to the Haight, the driver let a girl out right in front of the Booksmith. As she walked to the door, I watched a guy on a bike speed past.
The girl didn't stop to see if the way was clear, and the guy on the bike plowed right in to her.
Everyone on the bus gasped in unison.
Some dirty, filthy, bongo drum toting fake hippie kids jumped up and stared at the girl, but they didn't do anything except stare.
The girl was okay, she got up a moment later and crossed the street. I couldn't tell if the bike guy followed her or not.
Our bus kept going.

Everyone was to blame there: the bus driver for dropping the girl off between stops, the girl for not watching where she was stepping, and the bike guy for not biking slower.
I hope she was okay.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bus Report #316

The other night I was hanging out with The Teacher's Pet downtown (my 10 Townsend bus was hideously late, due to game day traffic I think, but it was okay because I still got to our meeting spot early).
All of a sudden it was 9 PM, so we said goodbye and went our separate ways, The Teacher's Pet to Church and Market and me up the street to catch a 38 Geary.
The bus came and I got on, and started to walk towards the back.
I noticed someone was smiling at me, so I stopped to see who it was.
Blast from the past! It was MC2, who I used to work with back in my long temp days.
I sat next to him and we caught up on things, and it was funny… it felt so familiar it was as though the past 7 years had never happened and we were back at the old office, trying to get out of working, J and I sneaking off to Tully's to visit our friends at every opportunity.
We watched as a scruffy guy in sunglasses (at 9:15 PM) got on the bus and squeezed into the seat next to mine. He immediately started talking to a boy (late teens? Early 20s?) who was standing nearby with a beat up paper bag full of junk.
"I'm going to Christina's," the boy said, quietly. "I've got, you know, some stuff for her."
"You bringing her some food?" asked the guy in the shades.
"Yeah, yeah, and you know, some other stuff too."
Right, I thought. Some 'other stuff'.
Shades made a phone call on his cell to Christina. "Yeah, I'm here with Mike, I guess he's coming over with some food and...stuff. Yeah, yeah, we're at Japantown so… almost there."
Shades handed Mike the cell, a battered-looking purple number. He palmed something else to Mike, but I didn't see what it was. I noticed I was not the only passenger watching this exchange. A man two seats away from me was watching, as was a girl sitting across from me.
Shades got out at Laguna.
Mike sat down in the stepwell (thanks, Mike, that's great, stay in the way when there are some empty seats right nearby. You are awesome) and made a phone call.
A quiet, hushed call to Christina, from what I could understand.
He got out at Baker, lugging his paper bag, clutching the phone in his hand.

I got out of the bus at 6th Ave., and walked down the quiet street towards home. I was hungry. I ducked in to King of Thai and ordered some food to go. It was one of the cook's last night at work, and he was handing out gifts to the other staff. One man got a soccer jersey, while another was gifted with a watch. The cooks hugged each other, and then one of them started my order.
Outside, as I walked, I felt a surge of love for the Inner Richmond.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bus Report #315

After a relatively calm weekend on MUNI It's business as usual on the 38 and the 22.

How I long for Saturday, my packed 38 Geary taking no prisoners and barreling down the street to get me to my class off of Polk Street.... Ah... Good times...

Or Sunday, when I waited 25 minutes for a 2 Clement, but then got a decent seat and a chance to see the cherry blossom festival even though I had no desire to go to it.

Those were the days.

Yesterday I left the house at my usual time, and went out to wait for the 38. I said good morning to the couple who only ever take the bus two stops, and scowled as the bus flagger tried, unsuccessfully as always, to flag down a Limited.
Our bus came and I got a seat across from a kid dressed head to toe in black, with black steel-toed boots, and purple sunglasses. It was an interesting look. It suited him, somehow.
At Fillmore I waited for the 22, bookended by the guy who camps in the bus shelter, who was smoking, and the annoying day laborer guy who always has to stand near me, who was also smoking.
Let me be clear that I was there first, that if they had been there first and already smoking, I would have just stood elsewhere.
But in principle, THEY should not have started smoking right near me when I was there first. It's just rude.
So I coughed and sputtered and shot them looks of death.
Nothing happened.
The bus came (late! Late!) and I sat next to the woman with the designer handbags.
An uneventful ride, though I was a little later than I like to be to work.

Last night I had to go to Noe Valley to meet up with B, E and M.
I hopped on a 33 Stanyan and got a seat near the window, after having to Mount-Everest-scale a stubborn woman who would not move and would not move her rolly-backpack.
She got out at Mission and a large man got on.
"Please don't sit next to me," I thought, because he would probably squish me to death.
Of course, he sat right next to me, squishing me against the window (dangerously close to a half-eaten lollipop).
Then he did something so gross, I might need therapy.
He rummaged around in his bag and pulled out a plastic bag from a clothing store that rhymes with Mold Davy.
Inside that bag, he had a paper-wrapped taco from everyone's favorite (and here I am being sarcastic) taco joint, a place that rhymes with Smack In a Box.
A Smack In a Box taco in the Mission, the horror!
Also, it was a COLD, OLD taco. I know because it was half eaten already, as though he had taken a few bites and then saved the rest for later.
Ew. Ugh. Shiver. Shudder.
He squeezed Smack In a Box 'taco' sauce on it from a condiment packet and chowed down.
I felt queasy, smelling the no-longer-crispy corn shell, seeing the flecks of taco on his shirt.
I couldn't take it.
I pulled the signaller and when the bus pulled onto 18th I motioned that I was getting out.
He wasn't too thrilled to have his dining experience interrupted, but I didn't care.
I got the hell outta there.

This morning I was maybe a minute late for the 38 Geary, but that was okay.
Said hi to the couple who only ever go two stops, made fun of the bus flagger (she's got to stop with the L flagging, it's so stupid, it kills me!) and felt good. I was listening to this week's episode of the best radio show in the world and I was pretty happy.
Got on the bus, read the headlines in the Exshaminer (worse than the Worst Daily Newspaper on the Planet, if you can believe that), and all was well with the world.
When I got to Fillmore, I was the only person there other than the camper. He was wrapped up in a blanket, and was going through two plastic bags full of scraps of paper. Very important scraps, by the looks of things.
No bus came.
People started to arrive: the sullen sewing lady, some kids, the Puerto Rico guy, a man in a nice business suit, and some other folks.
No bus came.
The dreadlocked dental technician came, and we greeted each other like long-lost friends.
No bus came.
I looked at my watch. I had been waiting for 25 minutes.
Three 3 Jacksons went by. Five 22 Fillmores passed in the opposite direction.
I hailed a cab.
I meant to get a receipt but I forgot.
I was planning to send the bill to MUNI.
Next time, I guess.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Bus Report #314

I don't know how other people get ready to face the day, but I generally start with a shower, brushing my teeth, you know, basic personal hygiene.
Apparently my fellow commuters (today, at least) don't do the same thing.
Exhibit A: Neighborhood crazy man clipping his nails on the 38, right across from me.
Exhibit B: Woman next to nail clipper, lotioning her chin (and only her chin) with a huge dollop of sickly sweet, flowery lotion.
Exhibit C: On the 22, I had the guy who always smells funky sitting in front of me, and no surprise, he smelled funky.
Exhibit D: The three people who took turns sitting next to me on the 22 had horrible, alarming, disgusting breath.
Exhibit E: The Puerto Rico guy and his toothless buddy sat behind me, reeking of sour beer, old chicory-smelling, stale cigarette smoke and sweat.

Thankfully, Potrero Hill smells good, fresh and summery today, with a hint of fresh brewed Anchor Steam beer.
So glad to be off the bus.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bus Report #313

For some reason my 22 Fillmore was late this morning. I waited at the stop with the young, always-overdressed-for-the-weather-sewing-lady, the annoying-always-pushing-in-front-of-everyone guy, a new commuter, the "I'm-from-Puerto-Rico-therefore-not-from-here" burnout guy (and yes, sir, if you are from Puerto Rico you ARE a legal resident and you ARE sorta from here) and a few other unknown commuters.

When our bus came, the pushing guy tried to push in front of me but I didn't let him.

Carmen was on the bus, but she was sitting and talking with the annoying woman who works with her who always takes up too much room on the double seats, always talks too loudly on her phone and doesn't wear a belt so that you end up seeing much more of her than you would like.
I said "hi" to Carmen and sat down behind them, next to the very stylish woman who sometimes wears really bizarre-looking jackets. No weird jacket today, just a couple of designer handbags.
When we got to her stop I stood up so she could get out, even though the bus was crowded.
A guy who usually gets on at Oak sat next to me after I slid in to the newly-empty window seat.

At Mission, a girl with a baby was trying to get out the front door and a guy barrelled his way onto the bus without letting her off first. The driver shouted after him, "That's the kind of thing that gets you thrown off the bus," but she didn't throw him off the bus for it.

At my stop I gestured to my seat mate that I needed to get out. He didn't stand up for me, just swung his legs into the aisle. If he was a stick thin tiny child this would have worked, but he wasn't, isn't, will never be. He is a big guy. I struggled to get past him, sucked my teeth, loudly, and I think I may have whacked him in the head with my lunch.
Good on me, I say.

Metronome Ballroom has a new name, I think I am happy to report (not knowing the details, I can't tell if this is a good change or a bad one).

Monday, April 07, 2008

Bus Report #312

Terrible bus luck on Friday...
I was on my way to the Haight Friday afternoon, so I ran to just barely catch the 33 from over by the Potrero Center.
We made it to 18th at Mission (right in front of Yamo) and that is where we stopped.
At first I thought we were waiting for the SFPD to finish arresting someone half way down the block from us, and I was content to watch them handcuff the guy and put him in the car.
We waited some more, and then finally the driver told everyone to get out.
I knew there was no chance we'd have another bus any time soon so I walked up to Castro and got on the 24 Divisadero, still thinking I might transfer at Haight and still run my Upper Haight-related errands.
The bus was packed.
People stared at the tall, perfectly poised and styled woman who confidently made her way to the back of the bus.
My seatmate, a high school kid, and her friend gossiped about the tall woman and debated whether or not she used to be a man. They talked about their weekend plans, shouted to a friend sitting in the back.
One of them told me I had nice eyes. I thanked her, then put on my sunglasses.
At Haight I decided I'd had enough. I rode out to Geary and switched to the 38, and headed home.

Yesterday I was on the 38 and I saw a guy I keep seeing all over town. I saw him pay his fare and move on back, and then I saw him pay his fare and move on back.
Yes, you guessed it, he is a twin.
They sat next to each other in the back of the bus. Uncannily identical, those two. Right down to their matching glasses.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Bus Report #311

As seen out the window of the 19 Polk, at 7th and Market after my overly-cologned seat mate left:
A barbershop next to the cash checking place, with photos of Johnny Depp, Jack Nicholson and John F. Kennedy among others, displayed in the window. (So you can walk in and say, "I'll take the Depp cut, please!")

Also spied along the way:
Polk Street Station, one of the cutest diners (now defunct) is soon to become Booth, a super trendy, cold-and-clinical-looking yuppie brunch spot. Ugh.

A crowd outside O'Reilly's, smoking, looking at Miss K. and I expectantly as we walked by with a large cake and flowers. Not for you, O'Reilly's!


I went in to You Say Tomato to get a few things, and it looks like they may have just re-stocked. Lots of UK brands of candy and more tea than usual. Get over there!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Bus Report #310

This afternoon on the 22 Fillmore:
I sat in the back of the bus, next to a woman reading a trilogy of Federico Garcia Lorca plays.
Across from us, a man read a Gabriel Garcia Marquez book, in Spanish.
Lest we think the back of the 22 was highbrow, the man standing next to me was wearing a crisp, clean new T-shirt that said: 'Save Water, F*ck In The Shower'.
It was hard not to laugh.

I ended the afternoon on a 33 Stanyan. The Next Bus said it would only be 10 minutes until the bus came. It was actually 25 minutes. I got to talking with a middle-aged woman with a lovely Indian/British lilt to her voice. We watched a little boy with his mom (or his aunt? not sure). They were cute, the mom arguing that the boy's birthday was the next day, while the boy tried to convince her it was the following week.
The 33 was crowded.
The middle-aged woman got a seat in the front. The mom and little boy worked their way towards the back.
At Haight and Stanyan a very combative homeless man (typical Haight Street homeless type: tattooed, pierced, street rat high on something) got on through the back of the bus and immediately started arguing with a woman sitting across from him.
Everyone stared at them.
I thought about telling the driver, but the man hadn't said anything really bad to her yet.
There was a woman sitting across from me that quite obviously used to be a man. She looked good, if a little suburban-mom-at-a-swap-meet. She had on a pink San Francisco fleece, the kind tourists get at Fisherman's Wharf. Her white sneakers had pink stripes on them.
She smiled at me through her thick, pink plastic glasses.
"I thought you were my friend Rene," She said, smiling. "That's why I was staring at you."
"Sorry," I told her. "Not Rene."
The combative homeless guy got out at Geary. He started pacing back and forth in the bus stop, his backpacks abandoned near the curb.
The woman shook her head. "Someone's having a bad day," she said.
I nodded. "Our friend, you mean?"
"Yeah. I hope his day gets better," she said.
"Well, it makes us look like we're doing great," I said.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Bus Report #309

Have you noticed....
How people run for the bus, elbow their way on and then....
Walk extremely slowly once they are in the bus, and take forever to find a seat?
What's up with that?
It was at epidemic proportions this morning, especially at Mission Street.
I don't get it. I mean, the bus can't move until everyone's on, and everyone can't get on until the slow walkers find their seats.
And we had PLENTY of room this morning, too, lots of choice open seats.
But still.

And, not bus related: Script Frenzy starts today. Join the fun!