Friday, September 26, 2008

Bus Report #369

I'm not sure what it was, but I felt great this morning. The sunrise was blue and green and orange and pink, the 38 Geary was on time and everyone just seemed... I don't know... kind of beautiful this morning.
At Fillmore, the 22 was just leaving the stop as I got out of the 38. I ran as fast as I could down the block. The driver, one of my 22 Fillmore favorites, gestured for me to wait near Its Market.
He opened the door and let me in.
"Thank you so much," I told him.
I scored and empty seat and looked around to see who else was there.
The woman who looks like a model, Whitney, was sitting near the front.
The catfish face man sat in his usual spot.
In the back I could hear the recovering addict, the neck tattoo lady and the guy who gets out at Turk talking.
"The only people in the building I talk to are you and Joe," the recovering addict said. "But you know, Joe's loaded all the time and you know, I can't be around that."
The neck tattoo lady said something that sounded like an agreement.
At McAllister, the older woman who sometimes sits next to me got on. She smiled at me and sat next to me.
"A bit chilly this morning," she said.
I agreed.
It seemed as though everyone on the bus was having the same morning I was. People smiled at each other, gazed adoringly at the little kids on the bus, made room in their seats for other people. It was unusual but nice.

At Church and Market people stood smoking outside the church.
My seatmate got out at Dolores. She waved goodbye to me as she left.

We hit 16th and Mission. Instead of crowding into the bus through the back door, everyone came in through the front, and no one pushed. Weird!
The bus was about to pull away when the other Red Sox fan ran up. The driver let him on. I wanted to say something like, we Red Sox fans have to stick together, but it wouldn't have made any sense.

Last night I went to the CBS 5 blogger mixer. It was fun! So thanks, CBS 5 and Brittney! I went with the other Rachel, and we met some really nice folks. I'll be sticking links to their blogs/projects in the San Francisco section on the sidebar.
On the way to the mixer I took the 19 Polk downtown (no problems like the last time I took the 19!), dropped off books at the library (have you used the self check-in yet? It's neat!), then took a 21 Hayes to the end of the line. Very good bus rides.
The Ferry Building was busy but I decided to get a drink and some food before going to the mixer. Sat in Taylor's Refresher and had some food. Rachel called me and I booked it over to the TV Station to meet her. And that was that.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bus Report #368

Today I overslept by almost two hours.
I hurried through my morning routine (put my lenses in the wrong eyes, awesome) and ran out to catch the bus.

Wow, it's sunny out at 8:30 AM.
Where did all these people come from?

There were a lot of people on my 38 Geary and they were all strangers to me. It felt very odd to not see a single familiar face.
At Fillmore I waited for the 22 with more people than I am used to. The driver was a new one (to me) and he didn't smile or say anything when I said 'good morning' to him.
I sat down next to a guy who was studying flash cards with science-y stuff written on them.
A man with an orange hat, purple jacket and huge, bright green duffel bag shoved past a woman wearing a plaid shirt and huge, white bug sunglasses. She sucked her teeth at him after he shot her a dirty look.
A couple sat in front of me. The man kept mashing his fat fingers against his girlfriend/wife's face. It was disgusting, somehow.

My 22 sped down 16th street and I was at work another 5 minutes later.
What a morning.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bus Report #367

Last night I went downtown (10 Townsend to 38 Geary to Stockton Street. Yeah, I could have walked but the bus was right there) to pick up my dear little computer (all better now) and then decided to take the 2 Clement home. I caught it in front of my favorite Mayan-inspired medical building and squished in to a seat in the back.
At Polk Street a woman came running up Sutter. She stuck her fingers in her mouth to whistle for us to wait. It was shrill and got everyone's attention, but the driver didn't wait for her.
At the next stop, there she was again, whistling and running, but not really running fast enough. She didn't look like she meant it, you know?
The bus started to pull away from the curb and she slammed her fist into the side of the bus, still whistling.
The driver let her on.
Everyone looked to see who she was.
I expected a hardened MUNI rider, but she was a older-middle-aged woman with permed hair, a black trenchcoat and a San Francisco map crumpled in her hand.
She got out by the JCC.

We passed the former home of Cafe lo Cubano. I was sad to see the place close, but I think their demise was set in motion back when they stopped being really Cuban and became more... I don't know... more your average cafe?
I loved the place when I could go in and hear Cuban-inflected Spanish and when the whole menu was Cuban. Anyway, they're gone, its sad.

I saw a familiar pair of blue shoes out the window. It was E, who I haven't seen in a while. She got on my bus and I waved to her. She came over and sat down. We caught up for a few minutes until we got to her stop.

This morning I was a few minutes late to the 38 stop so I stood with the slightly later crowd.
Nikolas talked to another commuter, smiling and joking with him.
The bus flagger tried to flag down the 38L, as usual to no avail.
The 38 came, and despite her flagging the driver pulled up in front of me and let me in first. I sat across from a row of serious-looking women with big hairdos and small purses, and the bus flagger, who kept peering out the window looking for a 38L to switch to.

On the 22 I sat with Carmen. She was listening to Dean Martin on her Discman.
We chatted, joked, and caught up with each other. All is well in her world, which is good.

The rest of my ride was uneventful. Potrero Hill seemed quiet this morning. I can see the leaves on the trees are starting to turn, which means its almost my favorite time of year.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bus Report #366

Last night I left downtown a few pounds lighter... As my trusty little computer needed a new hard drive. I'll pick it up tomorrow and so far my only anxiety about the situation is getting everything set up again. Luckily I backed everything up on Saturday and Sunday... Whew.

Anyway, I was going to walk to Sutter and catch the 2 Clement, but as I crossed Geary I could see a 38 coming and decided to take that.

The bus was crowded and when we all got on it was even more packed: I ended up standing in the middle accordion section, gripping the poles tightly with both hands.
With this in mind, here is a little multiple choice test for you:

On a crowded bus, should you:

a) attempt to bring a table onto the bus.
b) station yourself and your table right in front of the back door.
c) get angry at people bumping in to your table.
d) all of the above.

If you answered 'd', all of the above, then you must have been on my bus last night.
A girl pushed her way onto the back of the bus with an end table she had just bought at Ross. It was a white table with roses painted on it. She seemed completely baffled when people yelled at her to move and refused offers of seats ("Oh, no thanks, I've been sitting all day!") when really I think people just wanted her out of the way even if it meant she took up a whole bench to herself.

Good times.

I listened to three people talk about how they wouldn't have any friends in this city if not for their dogs. I know what they meant, but it still made me feel a bit sad. Before the two guys left they had invited the girl and her boyfriend to go surfing this weekend. No one mentioned bringing the dogs along for the fun.

I had to squeeze past the girl with the table on the way out. She was still oblivious to the loud sighs and teeth-sucking that people were doing as they tried to get off the bus.

Clement Street seemed busy for a dark Monday evening. Several people picked their last fruits and vegetables from the outside carts at New May Wah before the stock boys took everything inside.
Halloween decorations at Walgreen's put me in a fall sort of mood, but I didn't buy any. The woman in line in front of me was buying three boxes of salt and four tins of canned meat. I felt a little sick.
Walking home, I noticed that the last of the neighborhood pay phones was gone. There used to be at least one on every other corner. The end of an era, I guess.

This morning I caught a crowded 38 headed downtown.
At Fillmore I got out and walked fast, just in case a 22 was coming.
I managed to get to the 22 stop just in time.
I slid in to a seat next to a guy who had been taking up the whole seat to himself. I don't think he was too happy to share, as he kept elbowing me every time he reached for his phone. He had a cup of coffee with him. The coffee smelled nice and strong.

As usual, same conversation I hear every morning with the recovering addict, the guy who gets out on Turk, and the neck tattoo woman. No reason to repeat it here, you get the picture.

The woman who looks like a model got out at her usual stop. She had a coffee with her, too. Her cup had her name on it, so now we can call her by it: Whitney.

Kids got on and off at Church, but I was too busy reading all the posters and signs up in the window at The Transfer. They have good graphics for all their club nights. Very eye-catching, but I guess that's the whole point.

I got out at my stop with a couple of teenagers and the postal service workers who always stand in the doorway and block every one's exit. Got some milk and soup at Safeway. One of the teens from the bus was in line in front of me buying her breakfast.
She and the check out guy were talking. I guess she does a lot of homework on BART.
I went into my coffee shop and who was in line in front of me? The teenager. She looked at me with recognition.
I told her, "Don't worry, I'm not following you."
She smiled. Relieved? Not sure.

The wonderful staff at the coffee shop said good morning. We talked a little as one of them took my thermos from me and filled up. They are so great, so accommodating, I can't tell you.
I walked to work, paused for a minute to wave to the guy at the glassworks. He waved back.

EDITED TO ADD: After seeing a table and a desk on the 38, and hearing the tale of yet another large piece of furniture transited across our great city, I think I'll start keeping a sidebar list of all the wacky items I've seen on MUNI. Feel free to send me your additions...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bus Report #365

Waited for the 33 last night to get down to the Mission.
The guys sitting behind me smelled as though they had stewed themselves in pot (maybe they had, who knows?).
A couple of slim, skinny-jean-Clark-Kent-glasses-striped-sweater-wearing boyfriends sat up in the front, huddled together on the bench.
I got out at 18th and Valencia and walked up the street. There were a lot of people out for a Sunday, grouped in front of restaurants and bars. I noticed campaign headquarters for Mark Sanchez's supervisory race, looked like there was a party going on.
I turned down 22nd Street and headed over to see the Devilettes at the Make Out Room, a great show, as usual.
The Teacher's Pet was out of commission but it meant more hang out time with her and the friendly ghost.
Caught a cab home afterward. No way I was going to find a bus that late on a Sunday, and I have work today.

This morning the 38 was empty. I was glad, because I had my trusty computer with me (it is sick, needs to see a doctor tonight, poor thing) and I didn't want to get jostled.
The 22 was crowded.
I sat behind the woman who could be a fashion model.
On cue, the recovering addict guy told the guy getting out at Turk, "Don't work too hard today," and then continued talking loudly to the neck tattoo woman for the rest of the ride.
A very, very stinky woman got on at Shotwell and within two minutes the bus smelled like a toilet.
I was glad to get out a couple stops later.

Unrelated to public transit: The author David Foster Wallace died this weekend, apparently of suicide. How very, very sad. If you read Spanish, Alberto Fuguet has a nice reflection on him on his website.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Bus Report #364

This and That:

-Friday morning I got on the 22 Fillmore and saw Carmen for the first time all summer. We sat together and caught up on the summer's goings on. She is doing well. It was nice to see her friendly face.

-Sunday I took the 38 Geary down to the Fillmore to buy tickets to a couple of shows. There was a bit of a line but I only saw one person leave without tickets (I guess her show was sold out).
I'll be at Stars and Two Gallants, which makes me very happy.
The bus back from there was a bit crazy... Just me and about 20 elderly folks who had been waiting for 15 minutes, everyone trying to squish on board... I flashed my fast pass at the driver and got in on the back so the older folks could have seats in the front. Lots of people in the back of the bus were headed to Baker Beach or Ocean Beach. I gave some tourist girls directions to Ocean Beach ("Just stay on the bus til you see the water").

-Last night I had (free!) tickets to the Giants game. I went down to Mission Bay beforehand to explore... It's so crazy how new everything there is... I tried to go to the library (closed on Mondays), then had a coffee at delicious delicious Philz.
Watched people cross the street from the T Third stop to the MUNI stop across the way.
Tried to figure out which buses went along King Street. Only could see the 108 Treasure Island bus.
Watched the people going by switch from working stiffs in casual dress clothes to families wearing their Giants orange and black.
I met I. in front of the bookstore and we went to the game.
The Giants won, I couldn't believe it.
After the game I wanted to take the bus home but that wasn't going to happen.
I ended up walking over to 2nd Street and flagged down a cab so effectively I got two cabs.
But could only take one, of course.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Bus Report #363

I wanted to go to Polk Street after work so I could get some tea and see what they had at the Bargain Bank. I waited for the 19 Polk in front of Anchor Steam. The smell of beer was in the air and I breathed it in, greedily.
The bus came and I got on.
There was a free seat in the back, the seat right across from the back door.
I soon discovered why it was free.
there were five teenage girls in the back of the bus, 13 or 14 year old kids from the school up the block.
They were shouting, cursing, shrieking and wrestling with each other.
Wrestling and play fighting, in the aisles and stepwell, WHILE THE BUS WAS MOVING.
Was our driver doing anything to stop them? What do you think?
No, he was not, even though everyone kept looking at him, looking at the kids, and back at him.

The girls started to wrestle in the aisle again. I could tell that they were doing it on purpose, that they wanted to do exactly what happened next.
They were right by my seat and I saw the bigger of the two girls push her friend towards me.
They fell against my side, heavily.
I was beyond pissed.
I shoved them both away, hard, and I think I said something like, "What the hell is wrong with you? Cut that shit out, kids!" or something similar. "Just cut that the fuck out!"
They narrowed their eyes at me, laughed and went back to their seats.
Still nothing from our driver.
The man sitting in front of me stood up and faced the girls.
"You kids need to cut it out," he said. "You can't be fighting or whatever on the bus."
The girls just laughed at him.
"Whatever, you got a booger in your nose!" one of them said.
And the man, I couldn't believe it, he shut up right away and slunk back to his seat.
I will not be intimidated by children and I couldn't believe a grown man would be cowed by these little bitches.
A woman came and sat beside me.
The bus crossed Townsend.
I felt something hit me in the back of the head.
The girls had thrown the newspaper at me. It didn't hurt, was more pathetic than anything else.
I sucked my teeth and tossed it on the floor. Said, "fucking kids."
The driver kept shooting looks at them but not once, NOT ONCE did he say anything or threaten to put them out the bus.
At Market Street the girls all stood up to get out of the bus, their back packs hitting people in the head and back.
Someone told one of the girls she was stepping on his foot.
They laughed.
One of the girls had a bottle of juice. Just before she got out the bus she shook it up and took off the cap, spraying juice all over the bus.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Bus Report #362

J was in town for part of Labor Day weekend.
On the actual holiday we got invited to a boat club down near the ball park.
So began our MUNI adventure.
We hopped on a 38 and cruised downtown.
I pointed out some of my favorite storefronts and odd signs.
Downtown we tried to find the 10 Townsend stop heading towards Potrero Hill. I usually only take it in the opposite direction, so I had only a vague idea of where we needed to go.
We found the stop, on an island underneath the transbay terminal.
Creepy, anyone?
Yes, even in the middle of the day.
We waited a few minutes for the bus, then got on.
J marveled at how much SOMA has changed since she lived here. And it was true... Its really changed in the past few years.
We got out on 2nd Street and walked past the ballpark and all the way down the vacant, quiet streets near the water.
The quiet unnerved this city girl.
We found the boat house and had a great afternoon in the sun with old and new friends.
When it was time to go, we walked towards The Ramp and Kelly's, since I had an idea that we could catch a 22 down there.
We caught the 22 at Third and 20th.
The neighborhood was so empty and quiet, I got nervous again. We passed the Teacher's Pet's place, my office, Thee Parkside.
It was a good ride.