Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bus Report #355

MUNI and Personal Hygiene, an exploration.

This morning on the 22, a very stinky man sat behind me. He had a backpack and several sacks of cans and bottles. He was quite... fragrant, if you know what I mean.

Lavender hat guy sat a couple rows ahead of me. As usual, his strange odor, part unwashed body, part earthy spice, part metallic, wafted back towards me.
I opened the window.

At 16th and Valencia the guy with the creepy red beard got on. He had shaved a few days ago, but the beard is already growing back. He had a cup of coffee and the smell of the coffee masked the other odors for a while.

A large man got on at Shotwell. He stood in the stepwell, staring at his reflection in the mirror above the doorway.
He took a comb out of his pocket and started to groom his almost non-existent mustache. He also combed a non-existent beard. Strange.

A pair of teenage girls got on and walked by me on their way to the back of the bus. They smelled as though they had emptied an entire bottle of fruity perfume on themselves before leaving the house.

And, unrelated:
A more-or-less normal-looking guy sat across from me on the 38. Nice suit, nice tie (purple!), lap full of legal pads and a paper lunch sack. He was talking to himself, but not in an obvious way.
It was weird.
Whenever I notice people talking to themselves in the bus, I always wonder if I do it, too. So far I don't think I do.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bus Report #354

Last night on the 22 Fillmore:

At Church Street, a teenage boy got on and immediately started yelling into his phone.
"I saw your cousin wearing my blue pants," he shouted. "Them blue pants I left at your house! And they had a hole in them! Your &*^%% cousin ripped a hole in my *^%$#@ pants! I want those pants back, no way your cousin should be wearing them!"
A guy was standing in front of me and we exchanged amused glances.
The boy kept going. "I was out and I saw your cousin in my $&(*&@# pants! I don't - I mean, even if he's not your cousin he's still got my &*^%$#@? Pants! Hell no, man, you are a @#$%&$, a real *&^$%##@ @#$%&$! I'm gonna kill you if I don't get my pants back!"
At this point, the majority of us were sneaking glances at this kid, wondering when his head was going to explode or when he was going to get off the bus, whichever happened first.
He got off the phone and sat down. From my seat (and through headphones) I could hear him talking about the pants with his friend.
At Haight and Fillmore the boy got on his phone again.
For some reason the friend he'd been yelling at picked up his phone, and the saga of the torn, stolen, cousin-worn blue pants continued.
He was so angry he almost missed his stop.
It was wacky.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bus Report #353

Little tidbits:

Forgotten from Tuesday -
Met S. for drinks after work, then caught a 22 from Church and Market and headed home. The bus was pretty empty. I sat next to a guy who looked a little shell-shocked.
I took my new (to me) book about goldfish out of my bag and started reading it.
"Hey, how you been?"
I looked up and saw my former UPS guy, K., standing by the door.
"Good," I told him. "You?"
He was always kind of strange, so when he started laughing I just let it go. "Fine, fine," he said, still laughing. "You know, same old."
"Yep," I said.

Last night as the 38 pulled up, I saw that the driver was one I hadn't seen in a while, a short chubby guy with a beret.
He smiled.
I said, "Long time no see, huh?"
He said, "Yes, it's nice to see you."
When I got out, I made sure to call a "have a nice day!" to him.

This morning one of the girls who gets on at Hayes sat next to me.
We always end up walking a few feet apart to get our coffee, its funny because I have this feeling she walks faster than me on purpose, to get there a minute earlier. It's weird.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bus Report #352

The 22 Fillmore this morning smelled bad.
The whole ride, I couldn't tell if it was the smell of a fast food breakfast or if someone was having intestinal distress. Gross.
A man with a prosthetic hand got on at Haight. I haven't seen one in a while (a prosthetic hand, that is), so it was interesting.
He didn't seem to have any difficulty with it, it was just a regular hand for him.

When I got to my stop, the girl sitting next to me got up too. She smiled at me, which was unexpected.
I am usually such a zombie in the morning, sometimes I forget that other people are awake and capable of interacting.
I waited at the crosswalk while two postal service employees and the woman with the walker scrambled across the street. They all made the light, but barely.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bus Report #351

Crazy people on the bus, crazier people downtown (but crazier in a good way)

Saturday night I took the 38 downtown, to meet up with the other Rachel and her friends.
My 38 was late, and I was getting antsy, but I got a seat and settled in for the ride.
At Presidio a man and his very tall, very blonde girlfriend got on the bus.
Through my headphones I could hear him talking to her, but it wasn't until I heard him talking about the 'homosexuals and the heterosexuals' that I thought he might be nuts.
He ranted about women with short hair and men with long hair (several of each sitting in front of him), about not being able to tell who was who, etc.
A couple sitting in front of him stared at him with confusion.
The man's girlfriend didn't tell him to be quiet, didn't ask him to settle down, instead she stood right in front of him in an attempt to keep him from lunging at the people he had decided to talk at, a tattooed, croc-wearing male and female couple sitting quietly minding their own business.
I waited for the girlfriend to apologize to the couple, but she didn't.
Too weird!
He started on a new rant, about how only Arabs wear scarves (There were about 3 of us wearing scarves, we made eye contact with each other, smiled).
He and his girlfriend finally got out at Larkin, and good riddance to the both of them!

Once downtown I met up with Rachel and her friends.
The new Clock Bar at the Westin is nice! Much nicer than my usual hangouts.
We ended the night at the Gold Dust, a good reason to not go to bars in Union Square.
But it was fun, met some really nice people, had some drinks, then we split up so I could 38-it home while they cabbed it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bus Report #350

In which Fog City Notes meets Fog City Mommy and the two Rachels crash a party.

Last week I get an email from the other Rachel, asking if I want to crash a party with her. A party for people like us, you know, the blog-writey types.
She assures me that she is not crazy, but my little sister still asks me to check in with her after the meet up to make sure I haven't been kidnapped or tortured.
Rachel calls me last night, says she's on the 38 heading towards my stop.
I grab my purse, my keys and a bottle of wine and tear down the street towards the bus stop.
The bus gets to my stop a moment after I do.
I hope the other Rachel won't be put off by my Medusa hair and shortness of breath from my run.
She's sitting in the front of the bus with Rick, and says to me, "You must be Rachel."
Well, she's right.
Our bus driver is a jerk, stopping short, making rude comments to people.
Luckily Rick charms the other passengers and people seem to be in a generally good mood.
We ride downtown to the party venue, stopping first so that Rick can watch some trucks and buses go up and down Powell Street. He loves his trucks and buses.
We go to the party, picking up a lost party-goer from the Midwest along the way. We rendezvous with Rachel's friends, in town from cities I've never visited.
There are a lot of bloggers there, everyone quick to hand out their card, ask what we write about, marvel that we are two fog city Rachels.
We tell them we're crashing their party, and they love us.
It was fun, and very nice to meet my doppelganger, finally.

This morning on my 38 Geary, a man sat in front of me filing his nails. Gross. He stopped and pulled a hard back book from a box on the seat next to him. It was called something like, Tormented Passion. Awesome.
The 22 came as I was getting off the 38. The driver waited for me and I got on, sitting next to a guy that looked a lot like my old friend from college, B.
Lavender hat guy sat in front of me, and just like he has done every day this week so far, he stunk, STUNK and I had to open the windows.
The woman who looks like a model sat a few rows back. She was wearing a gold trenchcoat and gold flats, talk about a bold statement.
Catfish face man sat across from me.
It was a quiet morning on the 22, most people looked sleepy and relieved that it is Friday.
Chatty construction workers got on at Church and I was soon surrounded by them on all sides.
I turned up my music and stared out the window.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bus Report #349

Last night on my way home from a late meeting downtown I got on the 38 at New Montgomery.
The bus was warm and smelled like fresh baked yellow cake. The kind from a mix, but really buttery.
It was a surprise because usually, well, MUNI doesn't smell like dessert.
The ride was fine, unexciting, maybe even boring. The man sitting next to me was reading newspapers on one of those electronic book reading thingys. It struck me as a little obnoxious and unnecessary, but better than having someone reading a spread-out copy of the Chron, rustling and crinkling the pages and elbowing me in the head.

This morning I missed the 38 regular and decided to walk up and take the 38 L from a nearby stop.
It's a totally different crowd, the 38 L crowd.
They seem.... slightly more business like than the 38 regular crowd. And they are quieter.

At Fillmore I waited with a high school girl who decided that even though it's a huge bus stop that she needed to stand almost shoulder to shoulder with me.

A 38 Geary bus came by, with the 'Emergency Call 911' message flashing.
I thought about it but the bus seemed to be making regular stops and no one seemed to be doing anything out of the ordinary, so I didn't make the call. Hopefully that was the right choice!

The 22 Fillmore came and it was practically empty. The only passengers were:
The woman who looks like a model
The catfish face man
The woman who wears dark sunglasses even when its dark out
The woman who wears the inappropriate little girl dresses
The guy with the mustache who always says hi to me and stands up when I need to get out of the window seat
It was a quick ride, no drama or trauma.
At my stop I decided to be nice and let someone get off the bus before me.
She didn't get the 'step down' concept, so I got out first to demonstrate.
I wandered across 16th Street and went to get my coffee.
As I walked the rest of the way to work, a 22 came by.
One of the sewing ladies was on it. She saw me, and smiled.
It was nice.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bus Report #348

One of the drawbacks to living in the Richmond is that sometimes it takes a very long time to meet up with friends in other neighborhoods. It's a minor drawback, and I've never let it stop me, but I'm putting it out there.
Yesterday I learned that living in the Richmond has one more perk I hadn't noticed before: easy quick access to Stern Grove.
I had company in town this weekend, and we made liberal use of MUNI ( 2 Clement to downtown, 1 California from Chinatown, the 38 and 22 to meet friends at Lucky 13) and then yesterday we packed up a nice picnic and headed for the bus stop.
I knew the 28 would drop us off right at Stern Grove, but I'd never done it before. However, we were extremely excited to see Rachid Taha live in concert, so there we were, picnic bag in hand, waiting on the 28.
It came in less than 5 minutes.
I thought it was going to be packed with concert goers, but it was pretty empty.
We got dropped off right across the street from Stern Grove 20 minutes later.
After the show (which was fantastic! If you've never heard Taha you are missing out, check out the opening group too, MC Rai) we went to the 28 stop and again, I expected the bus to be packed since everyone was leaving Stern Grove at the same time. It was crowded but not bad.
A man sitting in front of us had a huge sack of oatmeal. I wondered what he was going to make with it.
Or maybe he just really, really liked oatmeal.
There were a few moms and babies in the front of the bus. The babies were cute, active, and one tried to grab a book her neighbor was trying to read.
We were home before 6 PM.
A great weekend!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bus Report #347

Easy commute this morning.
I waited for the 38 while reading Be Near Me by Andrew O'Hagan. He's so good.
The bus flagger arrived, mouth open and arm frantically trying to flag down the Limited.
The smiley driver pulled up and I got on. We exchanged knowing glances and she smiled.
A matronly woman was reading a Russian newspaper. Next to her, a tiny woman with a bad perm studied a Chinese take out menu.
I waited at Fillmore by myself.
A flock of pigeons rooted around in a disgusting pile of trash. Most alarmingly, the majority of the trash was eggshells, which the birds picked up and cast aside in their search for something to eat.

The bus came and was fairly empty. The only regulars were the catfish face man and some of the day laborers and sewing ladies.

I got out at Potrero and went for my coffee, then walked the rest of the way.
I watched a man scale the fence outside of Il Pirata, not to get into the restaurant but to get out of the back patio. I think he may have slept there under one of the tables or something.
It was unusual to say the least.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Bus Report #346

This morning the smiley driver picked me up right on time.
I made a girl mad because I asked her to move her bag so I could sit down. Sorry, honey, but unless you bought your bag a transfer, you are outta luck.
The man who always reads his tattered Arabic dictionary was dozing off in his usual seat.
I saw him last night at Dalva in the Mission, and he smiled at me like he knew me.
But he doesn't know me, so I just passed him by and went to join my friend.
At Geary I waited with the annoying day laborer guy, who decided to stand right near me, smoking. No amount of hacking or coughing could get him to stop.
A woman came walking down the sidewalk and told me that the power was out at Sutter and that was why the 22s in the opposite direction were all stacked up. No buses could get up or down the hill.
I thanked her for the heads up and started walking down Fillmore.
I saw the older woman who always walks all the way to Mission from Presidio. I passed her by.
I huffed and puffed up the hill and stopped in front of the Alamo Square Grill to catch my breath.
I told the man standing there waiting for the bus that I didn't think anything was coming.
The next block smelled terrible, and I held my breath while I walked.
At Hermann and Fillmore I saw the large woman with the headscarf and colorful skirts. I warned her, too, and she thanked me.
I kept going.
At 16th and Dolores I saw a 22 Fillmore coming towards me, and since I was covered in sweat (totally unprofessional) I decided to ride the rest of the way to work so I could at least be dry by the time I got to work.
Total walking time: 25 minutes
And I still managed to get to work on time.

But still, screw you, MUNI, and your power outages and inability to run emergency shuttles and your inability to have the next bus screens say something about the delays.
It's just common courtesy.