Monday, November 24, 2008

Bus Report #384

This morning I took the 38 down to Fillmore with Rudy, that guy I met at the Julieta Venegas show, and the older gentleman with the cozy sweaters who takes the 22 in the opposite direction.
We all three of us got out of the 38 through the back door and then walked almost in a three-across line to our respective bus stops.
At the bus stop, I listened to some music, tapped my foot to the beat.
The 22 came. I stood back so Rudy could get in first, but he motioned for me to get in first. I thanked him.
It was a quiet ride, not many of the regulars, just the annoying day laborer guy, the annoying sewing lady, the new recovering addict guys and the guy who always wears earplugs.
A mom and her baby had matching jackets.
I got out at a different stop this morning, with a ton of middle-schoolers who were heading up the hill to their school.
Potrero Hill felt cold this morning, and foggy, and the brewery smelled like fresh beer.
Ah, delicious Anchor Steam. I love you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bus Report #383

For my homework last week we were supposed to record some overheard conversations. Here are the two I heard on the bus.

The first one:

“Mommy, when I get to middle school, will there be bullies??” asked the little boy, who was sitting beside his mother on a 38 Geary bus headed towards Ocean Beach. His mother, a slim, dark-haired woman who looked Russian answered in slightly accented English, “Well, we hope not. That’s why we’ll make sure you go to a school without bullies. A good school.”

The little boy was unconvinced. “If there are bullies, the principal will send them to juvie.”

The mom got a tube of lotion out of her purse. She started to rub it into her hands.

“Is that lotion?” her son asked.

“Yes, it is,” she said. She squirted some into his outstretched palm.

“So your hands won’t be dry?”

“Exactly,” said the mom.

They both rubbed their hands together until the lotion had been completely absorbed in. the mom pulled the signaler and stood up to go to the door.

“One minute, mom, one minute,” the boy said. “I’m still… There’s still lotion here.”

He got up at the last minute and went to join his mom. As they went out the bus he said, “Mom, mom, my hands feel so good and soft now.”

And the second one:

“Yeah, it was pretty funny, they were filming all over the city. Yeah, yeah. Down by city hall and especially in the Castro. You know, for the Harvey Milk movie. Yeah. Did you know I went to Harvey Milk’s funeral? Yeah, mom took me, I was really little. Yeah. She worked in city hall or city government or something. Yeah. It was really sad. So I’m stoked to see the movie when it comes out.”

-Man on cell phone, slightly heavy set, no older than thirty-five or six, 38 Geary bus, headed towards Ocean Beach.

Bus Report #382

It's been a quiet and uneventful week on MUNI.
Saturday I got on the 38 to meet M. at the blood center, and she was on the bus!
We rode together to the blood center where I made a donation. Then we took a 38L down to Fillmore and wandered around, and got some lunch.
I took the 38 back home.
Last night I was on a regular 38, but for some reason it skipped the 9th Avenue stop. The one night I want to get out there, too!
Annoying. I got out at the next stop and walked back.
Today I caught the earlier 22 Fillmore, so I rode the bus with the Catfish face man, Whitney, the recovering addict guy and a couple of his friends.
The woman sitting next to me was reading Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim. Great book.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bus Report #381

It's mid-November and I'm deeply enmeshed in National Novel Writing Month. As of today I am about 2,000 words behind schedule. It's a constant struggle, but at least I have The Teacher's Pet as a writing buddy this year.
When I'm not noveling, I've been in class and doing homework.
It keeps me engaged and exercises my brain. And reminds me why I am usually glad not to be enrolled in school full time.
So it's the 22 Fillmore all the way to the end of the line to get to class, and then a 28 bus to get home. The people waiting along Lombard at that time of night are an eclectic bunch: Marina types, students, homeless people, tourists, and the occasional vocal crazy person.

Yesterday afternoon on my way to class I was on a crowded 22, trying to listen to the 'House on Loon Lake" This American Life episode. I had the volume turned all the way up to drown out the loud cell phone conversations going on around me. The bus emptied out on Geary.
I looked around and saw, sitting two rows behind me, the Confederacy of Dunces guy.
I hadn't seen him in ages, but he looked the same. He got out near the Clay. His bike was locked up against a street sign. He had wound LED lights around the bike instead of using a bike light. It was cool, it looked like Christmas.

This morning's bus was on time and all the regulars were there. I have missed them the past few days, as my buses have all been late.
Catfish face man, Whitney, the woman who always wears sunglasses even when it's dark and a few other people were all sitting quietly in their usual seats.
The Watchtower ladies got on. One of them came up to me and asked if I wanted to read some good news today. I declined, politely.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Bus Report #380

What gives, MUNI?
You have been late every morning this week when I have been trying to get to work.
Did you change schedules without telling us? Is everyone who drives the 38 and the 22 in the morning on vacation?
I've been getting up at my usual time and getting out the door a few minutes early, but I've still been waiting way too long for MUNI. I've been walking up a couple blocks to a stop where I could also get a 38L if I want, but it hasn't made a difference. When the bus does come, its a 38 regular with a driver I only used to have if I was running late, and the bus is packed.
Same goes for the 22- packed buses, driver I usually see as I am WALKING to work from Potrero (It's the bus after my usual bus).
So what gives, MUNI, seriously? It's not cool.
You have until Monday to get your act together, and then I call and put a report on you.

On a lighter note, for the first time in years I have been able to take the 28 19th Ave. bus home from my class in the Marina, and haven't had more than a 10 minute wait every time.
Well done.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Bus Report #379

In my rush to document my awful commute last night, I skipped the weekend entirely. Bad on me.

Halloween night I was sure I'd have a spooky hell of a time getting around. I was going to a shindig in the Sunset (thanks Casper and Teacher's Pet!) and knew I'd be waiting in the cold for the 28 for a long, long time.
I went out to the bus stop and got ready to wait.
Three minutes later, the bus came.
I was shocked. I got on, along with two punk zombies, a woman in a Kimono and someone who looked like they might be dressed as a biker, or else they were a biker.
Another seven minutes or so and the bus spit me out on 19th and Irving, early to the party for once.

The plan was to meet F. and B. at Mission Pie to catch up and have some pie and coffee. The rain was something else, and we pushed our meeting time back a couple hours.
I was already soaking wet from going out earlier so I decided that I didn't care if it took longer, I'd take the 38 all the way downtown and transfer to BART. Which I did.
Total travel time? 40 minutes.
Only problem: the BART gates didn't like my fast pass and I had to show it to the ticket agent both times. Both times the women looked at me like I was nuts and told me the card worked just fine, which was obviously not the case.
Anyway, the commute was impressive, as taking 2 buses would have taken longer and there would have been more walking involved. I was early so I went to the Mission Branch of the library. I love that branch, I could live in there. I wasn't planning to take out any books but ended up leaving with one Reinaldo Arenas book I hadn't read before, and a compilation of Cuban-American writers edited by Carolina Hospital. As I left, I tucked the books in my bag and hoped I wouldn't get them too wet.

I met J. and M. at the 33 Stanyan stop at Geary and Arguello. We were headed to the Mission to meet up with some other people to go to the Dia de los muertos procession. We caught the bus and got on, sat in the seats in the back that face each other.
A man sat on the same side as J. and he spent the whole ride reacting to our conversation and laughing, even though we weren't being that funny.
At Haight and Ashbury someone was parked in the bus zone so yet again, for my second time in a few weeks, the bus had to try to scrape by without damaging the car or the bus. We made it, but man, people, don't park in red zones. Or you might find your car has been crushed by a bus.

Bus Report #378

It took me 2 hours to get home last night.
It usually takes an hour, tops.
I got on the 10 Townsend as usual, and we headed out, going at a pretty steady clip until we got to Townsend and 2nd Street.
It took 5 minutes to get through the intersection and turn onto 2nd. What happened next, well... I am still thinking about it.
We were stuck on the block between Townsend and Brannan for forty minutes.
No one (the driver, the other passengers) knew what was going on, but the bus barely managed to crawl a foot every time the light changed. The traffic in both directions was bad. Buses were starting to stack up behind us and in the opposite direction, too. People started to get out of the bus and walk.
I was listening to an episode of Radio Lab about stress. Funny, huh?
It was 5:45 PM and we still hadn't moved. There were only three of us left on the bus, me, an elderly lady and a girl who I see on my 38 almost every night.
It was dark and rainy out. I took off my headphones and stood up. "Excuse me," I said to the girl. "I see you on the 38 all the time, do you want to walk down to Market together?"
She recognised me too and said yes.
The driver opened the door and we got out. He apologized to us, and I said, "not your fault, good luck tonight."
On the sidewalk, the girl introduced herself as Tammy. I introduced myself, too, and we started to walk.
There was what seemed like a huge exodus of people walking down 2nd Street, people from other buses and from office buildings.
We wove through the traffic that clogged each crosswalk and dodged puddles of muddy water.
We hit Market Street and headed for the 38 stop.
Something was not right.
All the Market Street buses that were headed to the transbay terminal were backed up all the way down Market and nothing was moving. Our bus stop was extremely crowded, and by this time it should have been emptier. I looked at her and said, "I'm going to try my luck on the 1 California."
She decided to come with me, and we walked down Sansome, still dodging puddles, people and cars. At Sacramento we got on a crowded 1 California and rode up to Presidio, where the bus went out of service.
So we got on a 2 Clement.
I got home at 7 PM.

Anyone know what the hell was going on?

Please go vote today.