Friday, May 30, 2008

Bus Report #339

Last night on the 19 Polk, everyone was coughing.
Not an allergy or head cold cough, but more like a TB cough.
I kept my face turned towards the window and hoped for the best.
When I got off the bus, a man walked by and asked if he could borrow my phone.
I shook my head, as in: No, you can't, and how do you know if I even have one?

Later, on a late-night 38 Geary, KT and I watched my seatmate mumble to himself, hang his head out the window and spit, and suck down an extra large drink from a fast food cup with an ad for sirloin on the side of it.
I eventually decided I did not want him throwing up on me (because that's where he was headed, I guarantee) so I stood up.

This morning I had an easy ride on the 38 (just me and the man from the couple who only ever goes one stop) and an easier ride on the 22.
I shared a seat with Carmen until we got to her stop, and then at Mission, just when I thought I'd have a Cor O Van guy sit next to me or one of the sewing ladies, A familiar face appeared in front of me, laughed and slid easily into the empty seat.
It was ST, on his way to work.
A pleasant surprise.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bus Report #338

I was lucky this morning to catch a mostly empty 38 Geary, which sped down the street and managed to make most of the lights.
At Fillmore I waited by myself at my stop for no more than 5 minutes.
It was as though MUNI was making up for yesterday.
Or so I thought.

I got on the bus and went to sit near the back.
There was a shaggy, dirty-looking kid/guy sitting in the front of the bus, and as I sat down and settled in for the ride, I noticed he was looking at me.
Great, I thought, just great. I mean, I'd much rather have a Ben, a British Look Guy or a Handsome South Asian Chef looking at me, you know?
I had my sunglasses on and my headphones, so I was in a good position to ignore Shaggy if necessary.
And it turned out to be necessary.
He dragged his backpack, duffel bag and bed roll over to the seat right behind me, and immediately started hissing at me to get my attention.
I ignored him.
Then he had the nerve to tap my shoulder.
I turned around, said, "What?"
"What are you listening to?" he asked.
"Radio," was all I said.
I turned back and stared, intently, out the window.
A few stops later I got a seatmate, an older woman who I've seen a few times.
Shaggy decided to move to the seat in front of us.
"She's listening to the radio," he told my seatmate. "What about you? You going to work?"
The woman didn't have a chance.
She said, "yes."
He kept talking to her, but I didn't listen, until he pointed at me, sneered and said again, "She's listening to the radio."
Leave me alone, dude, I thought.
Then, if you bother me again, we're getting the driver. Because at 7 AM I do not want to talk to you unless I know you.
He kept talking to/at my seatmate, kept sneering and staring at me.
I hoped that he wouldn't try to follow me off the bus, because then he would be sorry. I have no problem calling the police.
Luckily he did not follow me, perhaps because I bolted for the door, perhaps because a couple of the Cor O Van guys were right there behind me.
I was relieved.

Rachel over at Foggy City Mommy sent me this link to MUNI Haikus. Check it out!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bus Report #327

This morning I waited 20 minutes for the 38 Geary.
As the stop got crowded and the bus flagger showed up, I got more and more on edge.
Three limiteds sped by.
The bus flagger, Alex and a couple of sewing ladies walked up to the limited stop. I stayed at my stop with the man from the couple who only ever take the bus 1 stop.
Finally I had enough, and I called 311 to find out what the hell was going on.
"Well, from the GPS it looks like there's a bus coming in 1 minute," said the nice but not terribly helpful woman on the other end of the phone.
"Okay," I said. "But can you tell me if there's a problem on the 38? Because I've been waiting 20 minutes and usually I would have caught a bus 15 or 20 minutes ago."
"Sorry," she said. "I don't have any more information."
Like hell she didn’t.
The bus showed up and I got on.
It was torturously slow as it made its way down Geary.
We got to Fillmore and I took off running, to catch an approaching 22.
The two day laborers who always push everyone to get on the bus first, did.
Carmen was on the bus, the only consolation, so we chatted and caught up with each other.
I got to work on time, but without coffee.
If I'm in a bad mood today, I plan to blame MUNI.

As seen on the 22 Fillmore last night:

On the left side of the bus, a hard boiled egg ripped apart and scattered beneath several seats.
On the right side of the bus, two boxes of chicken bones from someone's delicious (yuck) meal from Popeye's.
I can't help but ask the question, which came first, the chicken, or the egg?

The egg smelled, um, less fresh, so I'll go with the egg.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bus Report #326

Before I forget (as I have forgotten every day for the past few weeks):

Lately every time I walk past the donut shop I see the Alien Donut Man.
It makes me happy and fills me with relief, because when I don't see him, I worry.
He sits in his usual spot, in his blue and black parka (even last week when it was 97 degrees out) and slowly eats his donut and drinks his coffee.
One day, he had no choice but to sit at a different table, and he looked uncomfortable.
Poor guy.
Last night as I passed by, he lifted a paper napkin to his face, as if in slow-motion, and wiped his mouth. It was the most fluid movement I've ever seen from him.

Yesterday morning I was a few minutes late leaving for work, but it turned out to be a good thing.
The smiley driver pulled up and said, "It's been a while, how are you doing?"
She's just too sweet.

At Fillmore I waited with a couple other people for the bus.
When it stopped, the driver opened the door right in front of me and I got in.
Carmen was there in our usual spot.
She welcomed me with a smile and we immediately got caught up on everything.
Her co-worker, the woman who really ought to wear a belt, is on vacation for a few weeks.
Thank goodness, I couldn't help but think.

Last night I got home remarkably fast on the 33 Stanyan.
A man wearing a fedora sat next to me when I got in. We were in the rear facing seats.
I've noticed him before because he's not good at looking at you without staring.
You know what I mean.
There was a woman sitting in the back of the bus, kind of a wacky dresser, gold colored gladiator style sandals, a huge frame pack, a gorgeous bouquet of flowers.
"I like your shirt," she told my seat mate.
He replied, "I like your flowers."
They made small talk across a couple of people who looked like they were asleep.
Finally, he got up and went to sit next to her.
I lowered the volume on my headphones, so I could eavesdrop.
He was a new teacher, she worked at a food co-op.
They started talking about 'sacred spaces' and 'needing some space for me' and other new-agey subjects I got tired of years ago.
At one point she said, "So the poetry reading's at seven. I'm going to go home and like, be in my own space for a while, I'm sorry if you thought you could come home with me but I like, really need a little while to just rejuvenate myself."
He nodded, said, "Hey, that's no problem." He paused, and then, "Cause I need some space for myself too."
Oh, honey, I thought, you're trying too hard.
But then they got out at the same stop, so I guess it worked.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Bus Report #325

I was not spared in any way on yesterday's Spare the Air Day.

I left work to go wait for the 10 Townsend, aiming to arrive right before the first bus left, or else right before the second bus left, whichever happened first.
At the stop there was a small patch of shade near the bus shelter so I stood in it to wait.
For 20 minutes.
Neither bus was moving.
More people came, kids waiting for the 22, a couple people who were waiting for the 19, all the sewing ladies from Jessica McLintock.
Still no bus.
Everyone wanted to be in the shade, so there were maybe 8 people standing in a 5 feet by 2 feet space.
It was hot.
Finally, the second bus came, while the first one stayed put.
We got on and I immediately started opening the windows closest to where I was sitting.

I thought that would be the end of any 10 Townsend trauma/drama, but no.
It took us 15 minutes to get to 2nd Street, the bus filling before Caltrain, emptying, and then filling up again.
The traffic on 2nd was crawling.
another 15 minutes an we got to Folsom and 2nd, but the cars weren't letting us in so we couldn't turn onto Folsom.
We spent another 10 minutes just sitting there, while our usually-sweet driver yelled at the cars to move and yelled at people to stop crossing in front of her while she was trying to pull in to the intersection.
We got to Market street at 5:45 PM, significantly later than usual.
As I waited for a 38, three more 10s drove by.
Thanks, MUNI.
Making a hot day just that much more trying.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bus Report #324

Random tidbits:

As seen on the corner of Folsom and 2nd, from the window of the 10 Townsend: A lone sombrero sitting forgotten on top of a trash can.

Teenage couple (14? 15?) mauling each other on the 38 Geary. Totally cringeworthy, totally funny.

This morning, on a very empty 22 Fillmore (what? Is everyone really biking to work today on this hot spare-the-air day?) I saw an elderly man wearing a plastic bag as a hat, with the straps of his backpack wound tightly around the plastic bag.
He was polite, godblessed everyone who walked by him.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Bus Report #323

On the 10 Townsend after work:
The woman sitting in front of me was knitting something on 3 double-sided needles. I've never been able to figure out how to do that, I prefer 'magic loop knitting', mostly because it sounds cool, is easy, and is actually a method and not just the lazy way I knit hats.
At the roundabout a car was stalled in the bus lane. A man was pouring gas into the tank from a small red container, and the gas was just running right through it onto the pavement. Not a good end to his day, I am sure.

And then, the 38L:
The 38L I took from downtown was packed.
The driver was funny. She kept getting on the PA system and saying, "Please watch your backpacks, purses, ipods, cellphones and other personal belongings. There might be pickpockets on this coach."
I loved it. I kept picturing tiny Oliver Twists and Artful Dodgers working the crowd.

Not an hour later, the 1 California:
Went out to meet up with ST in North Beach, and I figured the 1 to Kearny would be my best and fastest route.
Not so much.
My 1 California kicked us all out at Presidio and left us to wait for another bus.
There were a lot of cops outside the JCC, which I later realized was probably because it was the anniversary of the founding of Israel. No trouble as far as I could see, which was good.
The 1 California never came, so...

The journey continued, on the 2 Clement:
Oh, the 2 Clement. A joy of a bus when you are not trying to get anywhere. When you are trying to get somewhere, it is a torture.
Every 10 feet, or so it seemed, the bus stopped.
I kept my cool, though, listened to the drunk girls in the back of the bus talk about a party they were going to, watched the people in front of me stare at their San Francisco tourist map.
I hopped out at the Kearny-Montgomery stop.

I was still early for my meet up, so I guess I can't complain, but we all know I will anyway.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Bus Report #322

Last night I had a meeting to go to downtown.
It was late when I was finally able to leave, so I waited at the Montgomery Street stop in the dark with a few other people.
The bus came and I got a seat towards the back.
Loud kids were in the seats behind me, and a woman on her cell phone, and a scruffy, smelly man with a blank look on his face.
I pulled my book out of my bag and started to read (Robert Goolrick's The End Of The World As We Know It: Scenes From A Life). It's a good book, yet another of Alberto Fuguet's recommended reading.
If you want to check him out, here's his blog (and a website is forthcoming, where you can now watch a trailer of his latest film project!)
Our driver had an uncanny ability to manage to hit EVERY RED LIGHT on Geary. It was really, really something. I settled in for what I knew would be a long ride.
A German couple got on, wearing shiny new-looking coats. They had the same glasses.
Another scruffy man got on, shook hands with the scruffy man behind me, then went to stand in the stairwell.
We idled at more lights.
I looked wistfully at the open doors at the Edinburgh Castle.
Back in my neighborhood, the streets were quiet. My new boots made a loud 'clicking' noise against the sidewalk, which was oddly satisfying.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Bus Report #321

Last night I caught a 38 Geary downtown and got a window seat near the back.
The bus filled up quickly, so that by the time we hit Union Square the bus was packed.
Our driver decided to start skipping stops, but he would stop in the middle of the block to let people out.
He stopped the bus between Stockton and Powell to let passengers out.
Through the window, I saw a woman try to get out the middle door.
Something happened and she ended up falling, so that she was flat on her face on the concrete.
Everyone who saw it gave a sharp gasp.
She slowly stood up and gathered her purse and her shopping bags.
No one on the sidewalk approached her to help her, and the bus just kept going.
I managed to catch a glimpse of her as we passed: I think her long pants and tall spiky heels were the cause of her fall.
I hope she was okay.

At Van Ness, a woman got on and sat next to me. She had a big bag that was digging into my arm, so I sort of shoved it away.
I wasn't really paying attention to her, until I noticed she was talking to someone.
The someone was a small dog she had in the tote bag.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Bus Report #320

Friday afternoon I rode the 22 Fillmore down to Geary.
A couple got on the bus at Church and Market carrying a cat in a cardboard carrier from the SPCA.
The woman found a seat next to a teenage girl (who had a backpack with her and wore a t-shirt from Arriba Juntos) and the woman's husband stood next to her so he could check on the cat every few minutes.
At first the teenage girl didn't seem very interested in the couple or their cat, but after a few stops the woman carefully opened the top of the carrier and she and her husband started cooing at the cat, and petting her, and telling her how good she was.
The girl peered into the box.
"It's okay," the woman said, "you can pat her if you want."
The girl was a little shy, but she reached in and patted the cat. She smiled.
"What's her name?" asked the girl.
The husband had a surprisingly booming voice. "It's Nellie Bly," he said. "Look her up when you get home! She was a young woman like yourself who was a social justice worker and who was adventuresome! Look her up!"
The couple chatted to the girl about the cat, both the real Nellie Bly and her namesake, how the cat only had three legs but she got along just fine.
It was really very sweet to watch the three of them interacting.
The girl got out near the shopping center.
The woman said to her husband, "she was really nice, wasn't she? I wonder where she's going."

Later, I got on the 38 Geary to head down to the Great American Music Hall. The bus was crowded. I managed to get a seat near the front.
Across from me there were a few USF students: two were Spanish, one Portuguese and the fourth was Brazilian. They talked in a combination of Spanish, Portuguese and English.
At one point, the Brazilian girl asked when they were going to get off.
This prompted her Portuguese friend to ask the rest of them, in English, if they understood what it meant in English to 'get off'.
A couple of people standing nearby started to smile.
So did I.

As seen on and from the 10 Townsend last night:
Ramon, who didn't see me, checking his reflection in a store window.
BT, who got on the bus at his usual stop, smiled, said 'hey' and walked back to the back of the bus.
A man carrying a huge canvas, maybe 48x42 or bigger, with a gigantic painting of a Converse One Star shoe on it.
It was windy and there was a fair amount of struggle involved.

I got a copy of the Etgar Keret book I mentioned last week. I haven't read it yet, though.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Bus Report #319

Last night I rode the 38 home from downtown after hanging out with KT and AL.
KT and I managed to get a decent seat, and the ride was uneventful for most of the way.
At some point, I don't remember which stop, an older lady wearing a brown and yellow kerchief got on and immediately started talking, loudly, about how we were in the end times, the last days, that the devil was coming and mankind would be destroyed, etc.
Your typical MUNI ranter, right?
A couple of people engaged her, one man nodding his head, while another woman in a black hat got really annoyed at yellow kerchief lady.
"You know, you really need to stop," she said.
Which of course just egged on the yellow kerchief lady.
We couldn't hear everything that black hat was saying, but she was getting angrier and angrier, and eventually she got up and went up front, most likely to complain to the driver.
While kerchief lady kept on about the devil walking among us, and how we were doomed.
The black hat lady kept complaining.
Yellow kerchief lady eventually calmed down, and got out at her bus stop.
Who was crazier? So hard to tell.
Suddenly, we heard music behind us. Someone was blasting The Cranberries on their headphones, and SINGING ALONG.
Badly, badly.
She was tone deaf and I had a feeling she was singing the words but had no idea what she was saying. The oddest part of that was that her boyfriend was with her, and not once did he say, "you know, honey, maybe you could hold off until we get home?"
They got out before us, luckily.

This morning on the 22 Fillmore:
Saw the annoying woman who works with Carmen, again, still no belt.
Catfish face man, looking a little angry today.
The extremely stylish woman. Man is she tall! I never noticed it before.
A bunch of scruffy looking kids, one of whom was wearing spongebob pajamas and carried a dingy looking pillow. I felt a little bad for them, wondered where their mom was.
The woman who always wears sunglasses even at night.
The woman with the creepy little-girl ruffled dresses.
A man reading Etgar Keret's latest paperback, The Girl On The Fridge. Got to get a copy of that.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Bus Report #318

Animal Edition!

On Monday, my 38 Geary was packed.
People pushed each other, squeezed past old ladies, refused to step up off the stairs.
I had a crotch uncomfortably close to my face, someone's pasty white face pressed up against the plexiglass to my right.
And then, the rat.
A young couple, girl in 'edgy' black clothes (from a popular mall chain, I wondered?) and boy in ratty army surplus elbowed their way into the bus through the second door.
I noticed that people were staring at them, which seemed odd because really they weren't too weird looking.
Then I noticed that the boy was cuddling a rat. Yes, a rat.
Some pets (I would argue all pets) should not be on the bus.
Only a ferret would have been worse (and would have resulted in yours truly getting off the bus and WALKING home from Polk and Geary).

As seen on MUNI so far this week:
Catfish face man
Couple who only ever take the bus 2 blocks
Annoying woman who works with Carmen (still not wearing a belt, still showing way, way more skin than anyone wants to see from her)
Talking to himself man (who gets on at Valencia)
Talking to himself man (who gets on at Mission)
Crushed faux leather filthy lavender hat guy
The bus flagger