Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bus Report #361

I left work and headed down to the bus stop, feeling good, feeling excited for a 4-day weekend.
I was waiting for the 10 Townsend, and I noticed there were no buses idling around the corner or by the mailbox.
A woman who I've seen a few times was waiting, too.
"There's a problem," she said. "The 4:49 PM bus never came and I don't see the 5:09 PM, either,"
"Hopefully it's just a little late," I offered.
She went off on how she had to get across town, how she should have left work early but couldn't, how MUNI was falling apart and needed to be fixed.
I couldn't disagree with her, so I nodded my head and craned my neck to see if anything was coming.
She called 311 and asked for the ETA of the next bus.
They told her it was on time, so she laid in to them, telling them she didn't see any buses and that they were mistaken.
They put her on hold to 'check on it'.
When the operator got back, he told her that there had been a bus taken out of service and that the next 10 would be there in 15 minutes.
I thought about taking a 22, but prefer the 10 so I waited.
We waited, the woman and I, talking about MUNI and MUNI schedules and all things related to MUNI. A guy with a baseball cap joined in on our discussion.
15 minutes came and went with no new 10 Townsend buses in sight.
Of course, 3 22 Fillmores came by, picking up everyone else.
The woman called 311 again.
They told her it would be another 20 minutes.
I was mad. At this point, I could have walked to Market and Church and taken an alternate route. I wished the woman and the ball cap guy good luck and hopped on the next 22 that came by.
We rolled along and eventually got to 16th and Bryant. The bus stopped and the driver got out.
I thought we were changing drivers, so I didn't give it a second thought.
5 minutes later we were still sitting there, sweating and stewing, more and more people trying to pack themselves on an already crowded bus.
The driver came back on the bus and looked around, then got back out.
A moment later I heard a loud 'thud'.
Everyone turned around.
The poles had come down and were on the ground.
"Everybody out," the driver said. "out of service."
I was pissed. Out of service? And when exactly did you know this, when we stopped here? While we were sitting here in pools of our own sweat?
I stomped off the bus and tried to get on the 22 that had pulled up behind us.
No go, as everyone else did the same thing. I went to stand under the bus shelter.
A 33 was going to be arriving in a few minutes.
Total time spent trying to leave Potrero Hill? 45 minutes. And we hadn't even gone a mile yet.
I called 311 to make a complaint.
The operator took down my name and my story, and I felt a surge of satisfaction as I told him the bus number of the 22 driver.
It took me 1.5 hours to get home that day, only 30 of it spent on my 33 which dropped me off on Geary.
Damn you, MUNI.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bus Report #360

M. and I had just given blood and had some lunch when we decided to hop on a 30 Stockton bus and head downtown.
We had seats and the bus was fairly empty, until we hit North Beach.
From North Beach to Chinatown the bus filled up until it was packed so tightly no one else could get on, though they tried. We decided we better make a run for it before it got any worse.
At the Washington Street stop, I pulled the signaller and we stood up to go.
Despite yelling, "Coming out! Coming out! Please move!" nothing happened. Everyone pretended not to hear us.
M. pushed past a woman who had been ignoring us and tried to get out the door.
"Move out of the way. Get out of the fucking stepwell!" I said.
M elbowed someone and shoved her way through the door.
She called back, "You're all morons!"
I managed to squeeze out the door a moment later.
We may have been short a pint of blood, but we were certainly full of anger and fury.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bus Report #359

Last night I had to catch a 33 Stanyan to get down to the Mission for a show at 12 Galaxies, probably the last 12 Galaxies show I'll ever go to (sadly, they are closing at the end of the month).
I thought I was in good shape, time-wise, and hadn't seen any buses pass while I was walking.
Suddenly, the 33 flashed by and I ran (in new shoes!) to catch it.
I tore around the corner but the bus had already taken off.
There were a few preteens sitting on the sidewalk hanging out.
I started to curse at the bus and the kids looked up at me.
I decided to walk out to Geary, hoping that I could at least take a 38 to the 22 and then walk.
The 33 was idled at the Geary stop and I watched the light change and the bus just stay there.
I decided to run and see if I could catch it.
I ran past a man walking a dog and a guy riding his bike on the sidewalk.
There was someone standing in the step well of the bus.
I got on and flashed my fast pass at the driver.
He grunted, told the step well stander that he either needed to pay or get off the bus.
The guy got off the bus.
I collapsed into a seat, relieved and secretly glad the guy had been taking so long to not pay his fare.
At the next stop, a couple of kids asked the driver if he wouldn't mind waiting a moment for their friend who was running to catch the bus.
The driver waited a moment, then told the kids he could not wait, that he would get behind schedule, that another bus would be along soon.
"But man, you know how slow the 33 is at night," said the most vocal of the kids.
But the driver wouldn't budge. We took off without the kids.

This morning my 38 was a minute early and pretty empty.
At Fillmore I went to wait for the 22. I was listening to some music and felt sleepy.
I got on the 22 and sat down behind the woman who always looks like a model. She was listening to something on headphones and it was making her smile.
The catfish face man sat in his usual spot by the door.
In the back of the bus, the borderline homeless recovering addict guy was telling the neck tattoo woman, "It got to the point that heroin wasn't getting me high enough anymore, so it was like I was throwing my money away."

And I keep forgetting to mention, but after weeks not seeing the alien donut man, I have seen him three times this week.
Yesterday, since it was really warm out, he had ditched the parka for a long sleeve button down shirt which he had buttoned up to his neck and down to his cuffs.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bus Report #358

Days and days worth of MUNI-related tidbits.

Saturday walking with M. in the Sunset, saw a car that looked as though it had been hit or had hit a nearby N Judah. The N looked okay, but was definitely not moving. The car looked a little crumpled, but the driver was outside, making cell phone calls.

Excellent bus luck on Sunday as I went downtown to meet JozJozJoz and Yoshi. My bus was right on time and dropped me off near the SFMOMA with plenty of time for a coffee and some Franny & Zooey.

Week so far:
A man got on the 38 the other day at Kearny, and it was taking a long time so I thought maybe he was having trouble securing his bike or something.
But no.
He was carrying a desk onto the bus.
Not a HUGE desk, but you know, a wooden desk with legs and a drawer and the whole thing. He got it on the bus and tried to wedge it and himself near the second door. There was a wheelchair passenger so he couldn't use that space. For the rest of the ride people had to squeeze by him.
He did not get out until Park Presidio.
I was surprised the driver even thought it was a good idea to let him on!

Lots of teenage girls camped out in front of the Fillmore starting on Monday. I walked by them on my way to work and thought, someday you will be like me, kids, so live it up now. I also thought, 'your moms really let you camp out down here for days? What, did you tell her you were at Susie's house or something?'
I found out this morning from the Chron that they were here to see some flash-in-the-pan German band.

I had a cake with me yesterday for a birthday at work. Trying to keep a cake level while riding MUNI is definitely a hassle. At one point, I tried to readjust the twine and the twine slipped off, and I sort of had to lunge for the poor cake. Ah well, it survived and tasted good.
Yet another strange item I have taken on MUNI (remember the cast iron pans? can't remember when that was but they definitely saw the city, that's for sure).

Today it was so foggy I thought my lenses were dirty, which they are, but it was actually just fog.
Listened to This American Life as we rode down a quiet, fogged-over Geary.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bus Report #357

I ran an errand for work this afternoon, and on the way back I caught the 22 Fillmore. The driver had just come from the bus yard, so it was nice and empty.
I flashed my fast pass and thanked the driver.
"You got it," he said.
A couple of people got on and walked to the back.
At 16th and Kansas , a man and a woman ran to catch the bus. The man asked the driver a question I couldn't understand, and the driver just shrugged.
The man and his... Girlfriend? Wife? Got on and it was immediately obvious that there was something wrong with the both of them. They were both extremely twitchy, talkative and the woman was having trouble balancing. She was also yelling to herself, except that she was mute or something because there was no sound.
We turned the corner and headed up Kansas. The man looked back and got agitated.
"There it is, Mitchie," he said. "I can't fuckin' believe we passed it and it's RIGHT BEHIND US."
In response, Mitchie cursed to herself, silently.
The man got up and started pushing on the door (we were still moving). "Driver, can we get out here, driver?"
The driver stopped the bus and let them out. The guy got out first, yelling, "Let's go, Mitchie, let's go, it's right here," and Mitchie slowly made her way down the stairs, grimacing and rolling her eyes and nodding her head.
The driver kept going.
I thanked him again when we got to my stop.
"You got it," he said again.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Bus Report #356

The other night, after watching Batman with J., we took a 38 Geary from downtown. It was late, 11:40 PM or so, and they were running the short buses (which always seems like the opposite of what they should do on their late night runs... So many people take the buses at that time, I wonder why they don't run the accordions at that time of night. Sigh). We got on and moved towards the back.
A man was sitting in a window seat, either napping or passed out. In his arms he was clutching a boom box, that was set on some sort of Muzak station. Everyone kept shooting him dirty looks, but he didn't notice.
J. got out at Leavenworth and I kept going.
The bus emptied out at Larkin but filled up again at Polk/Van Ness.
Lots of guys who looked like painters or movers, and a pair of quiet college age boys in tight pants and zipped up sweatshirts got on.
One of the boys sat next to me and the other one sat across from us.
At one point, the Muzak station played some Billy Joel. The two boys started smiling but didn't say anything. Instead, I noticed they both had their phones out, and they were texting, presumably each other.
They were still texting when I got out ten minutes later.

Yesterday, I took a 10 Townsend bus downtown from work. My driver was no-nonsense, asking to see people's transfers, telling people their day passes had expired, etc.
There was a lot of traffic, due to a ball game I think, and our driver couldn't get to the bus stop at Brannan. There were people standing there, so she signaled for them to wait up at the corner. She even called out to them.
They didn't get it.
One guy, who was carrying a broom, started yelling at her and banging on the bus door.
"Get out of the street!" the driver told him. "Get out of the street and wait on the corner."
The light changed and she got as close to the corner as she could.
She opened the door. The three people who had been waiting started yelling at her.
She didn't yell back. Instead, she said, simply, "I didn't want you walking in traffic which is why I asked you all to wait at the corner."
What could they say to that? Score one for her.

I waited for the 2 Clement across from my usual stop.
I got a nice seat in the back and settled in for the ride. It's a longer ride than the 38, but it's calmer, quieter, and smells better, which is what I needed yesterday.
Uneventful ride home, just the way I wanted it.