Monday, August 31, 2009

Bus Report #449

This weekend in Muni:
Friday - I was going to meet The Teacher's Pet for dinner before going to the du Nord for a show. I called NextBus to see when I could catch the 33.
"Actually, there was a power outage a while ago and I don't have any current info about that line," apologized the nice man I talked to on the phone. Okay, then, I thought. I asked him about the 24.
"Uh, that line was affected by the outage, too."
Okay. We finally planned my route, the 38 ("In ten minutes and again in fifteen minutes.") and then catching the 22 ("Uh, the 6:06 PM bus is out of service so you can take the 5:56 otherwise you'll have to wait for the 6:15."). Thank you, NextBus. The 38 was right on time and the 22 was a minute or so late, but it was still pretty good.

Saturday - Had to get out to Stonestown to meet up with M. and R. I looked up the 28 and saw that I had 10 minutes or 22 minutes, so I ran out and went to the bus stop.
Argh. The stop was packed with people, at least 20 of us: students, elderly folks and terribly, awfully dressed people that didn't know where they were going, so I assumed they were Outside Lands-bound. We were only 4 blocks from the entrance to the park but over twenty blocks from the Polo Fields, so taking the 28 wasn't really a good idea for these grimy, sweaty people.
Nevertheless, when our (already packed) bus came, we all pushed our way into the bus. I ended up clutching a pole and practically in this woman's lap, while someone else was pressed up HARD against my back and ass. Nice. Did I mention I was recently showered and dressed for a party? Yeah.
Almost 40 minutes later I got to Stonestown, but in the meantime...
-Girl in yellow racer back tanktop, pink bra and hideous, HIDEOUS tiered skirt and flip flops instructed the Outside Lands folks to get out at Fulton and take the 5 to 36th Ave., unless they wanted to walk all the way there. They wanted to walk, which begs the question.... Why ride 4 blocks on a crowded bus? Why?
-Not too tall man with shrieky, annoying wife stood extremely close to me, his khaki shorts and black belt in line with my shoulder. I shot him a look warning him to keep his crotch away from me.
-Slightly out of it woman with headphones turns to guy in overalls and fishing hat and asks when the concert starts. The man turned to her, and in perfect, unaccented English said, "I'm sorry, I don't speak English."
Then he went back to muttering to himself in English.
-Frizzy ponytail man sits next to me (when I finally score a seat) and every time he turns his head I get lashed with his frizz. Ew.
-New SFSU students cluelessly block the stepwell, miss their stop, and get off at the next stop.
-Guy with deep tan and equally dark shades asks everyone if this bus will take him to BART so he can get out to the airport. Yes, it will. He strikes up conversation with slight, pale, goth boy about all the trouble you can get into in Vegas. They part ways at Sloat, with the goth kid wishing him luck and saying, "It was great talking to you."

Sunday - My NextBus good luck continues. I take the 38 to the 22 and get to Cafe du Nord for another show, with plenty of time to spare. One of my bus mates looks like M's boyfriend, only about 10 years younger. It's unnerving.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bus Report #448

My morning buses are crowded again, now that school's back in session. Sigh. I will be complaining about this for a few more days I am sure, then I will get over it.
Today I caught an early 22. I sat a few rows back from the catfish face man and the ogler (who had lots of ladies to ogle today, unfortunately for the ladies).
At Haight and Hermann I noticed a lot of activity in the form of security guards, film-industry-type trailers and trucks and some SFPD guys just hanging out. I bet they were filming Trauma, or something. Exciting. Part of me wants to watch the show to see SF in all its glory, but another medical drama? Hmmm.... I don't know.

Last night my 38L was CROWDED! The driver did a pretty good job of only letting people board through the front, at least until we got to Union Square. Of course, this was a perfect opportunity for a slightly crazy man in a leather cowboy hat (with a dirty feather in it!) with lots of plastic bags (and only one arm to hold them with) to get in through a side door. He pushed his way through the crowds asking everyone, repeatedly, if anyone had, "A paper dollar for four quarters."
Predictably, no one was going to open their wallets in the middle of a crowded bus for him. He went back through the crowd again and got out at Polk.

There was a profusion of tall, slim young men with neck tattoos. Most only rode for a couple stops. It was odd. I counted at least 5 of them!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bus Report #447

Yesterday I took a 38L to Fillmore and switched to the 22. The kids are back in school and both buses were full of them, kids of all ages with new shoes and backpacks, some in brand new uniforms and others in outfits you just know took days to come together.
It's sad taking the bus past Chow, which is closed for renovations after a fire. Hope they reopen soon.
Last night's commute was not much different. My 22 had little kids and their parents, and teenagers joking and laughing with their friends.
I took a 2 Clement from Fillmore, a crowded bus with a few seats in the back. I said "excuse me" and sat down between a heavy set woman and a man in a suit. Neither of them made any room for me, so I just sat down and kept my arms folded in my lap until the woman got out at Steiner. Ah, room. I could finally breathe.
We zoomed up the hill and let about half the bus out near the JCC.
A woman sat across from me with two shopping bags full of plants. Any time anyone wanted to get by, she would slide the bags in one direction or another, instead of picking them up.
Right before I got out at my stop, I saw the host of one of our neighborhood restaurants get on the bus with his kids. The little girl was so cute. She was chatting, then exclaimed, "Oh, no! I lost my pencil! Mom's gonna ground me!"
She sounded almost excited. Her dad assured her she was not going to get grounded.

Bus Report #446

A weekend of Muni.

One of the things I love the most about SF is that I can get almost anywhere I need to go on one or two buses, without really having to think about it much. Case in point: I went to Zine Fest on Saturday, taking the 44 O'Shaughnessy through the park to the county fair building.
I met up with the Teacher's Pet and we spent a couple hours cruising the fest, chatting with vendors and feeling extravagant buying 1 and 2 dollar zines. The best purchase I made, though, was a button made out of an old fast pass. Genius!

Sunday I Muni-ed my way down to the Mission for Rock/Make (the 38 Geary to the 24 Divisadero), walking with M. from the Castro down to 17th and Treat. We wandered, met up with the Teacher's Pet and the Friendly Ghost, then made our way up to Mission to catch a 49 headed towards Van Ness and Sutter.
Our bus was crowded but we sat in the back, in the last two seats on the right. A woman was talking loudly on her phone, while some Italian tourists sat perfectly still and kept their eyes on the street signs outside. A man had paper stuffed into his ears. He carried a plastic bag full of newspapers and a child's pink plastic magic wand.
In front of him sat a bearded fellow with a hooded parka and two paper shopping bags full of his belongings.
We got out at Sutter and the bus kept going towards the Wharf.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bus Report #445

This morning I got on a 22 with very few open seats, and ended up squished next to the catfish face man. He had no desire to slide over and make more space for me, nor did he want to fold his newspaper. That's fine. I just settled into the seat and made sure I had enough room, and let him deal with it.
Seat hoggers can buy two transfers, if they really want to sit alone.
The man across from me was taking up 2 seats, but no one wanted to deal with him anyway.
He had a large suitcase and a duffel bag, and a plastic bag on his lap from which he kept taking out a Walkman, which he would then blow on several times and put away. He would wave his hands back and forth like a conductor any time anyone signaled for a stop.
I was listening to the radio but could hear snatches of his yelled and muttered rantings.
"Crack.....sucking dick.....motherfuckers...." were the choicest of his words.
The man sitting in front of me was talking to himself, too. Was it the time of day? The demographic of 22 Fillmore riders? I was at a loss. I got out at my usual stop and went for my coffee, then walked the rest of the way to work.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bus Report #444

Not much going on in my Muni world for the past few days. I've listened to a lot of This American Life and Radio Lab while shuttling back and forth, back and forth between work and home.
One day I dug out my old Walkman so I could listen to an old cassette. The Walkman doesn't work that well anymore (shock! Horror!) and I had to hold it tightly and at a weird angle to get it to work.

Yesterday afternoon I just barely caught the 10 Townsend, and then when we got to Market, just barely caught the 38.
There was a girl that got on at Divisadero, still in her gym clothes, knee high gym socks, a huge duffel bag slung over her shoulder. She sat down a few seats in front of me, and with no self-consciousness at all she put on deodorant in front of a bus full of people. Maybe that was the point, I don't know, but anyone who wanted to could have gotten a good look at her entire upper body. Interesting.

Saw two funny T-shirts:
One man had a brown T-shirt printed with all uppercase white lettering: I WISH I COULD QUIT YOU
The other man's shirt said, in hard to read beige text on a brown shirt: I Draw Cartoons All Day
I saw them within maybe 20 minutes of each other.

The Moulin restaurant at Geary near Larkin has a new bright yellow and bright green paint job. I like it.

Last Tuesday I went to a neighborhood meeting to discuss the 2 Clement and its new route (starting in the fall).
The meeting was informative, even though I had to ignore the actually crazy woman who decided to sit next to me. The people from MTA were patient with our questions and even told us of some Muni improvements we should start seeing in the fall, such as extended 38L service. more 44 O'Shaughnessy buses and improved and more realistic timing for buses in our neighborhood.
The 2 Clement currently goes up to 33 Ave. but will now end and begin its route at 14th (or else it will end at 12th, not certain). The big issue for the neighborhood is where the bus will be idling and turning.
Muni, in all its wisdom, has chosen to idle the bus on either Funston or 14th Ave., both streets that are lined on one side with homes and religious institutions and the other side lined with the Park Presidio mall (I actually don't know what the strip of greenery is called, and I wouldn't call it pedestrian, since I'd never walk in it, so mall will have to do for now).
Most people at the meeting favored idling the bus on Funston, myself included. I do feel a little weird about it, though, since there were no Funston residents in attendance, but they will have a chance to appeal at a public meeting in September. For now, it seems as though the Funston option was more popular, and I do think the MTA people will take our suggestions into account.

Other wacky suggestions included:
Axing the line altogether (an idea which has already been debated by MTA and shot down).
Idling the buses on Park Presidio (bad idea, nowhere for them to safely idle).
Idling them on Geary (same issue as above).
Idling them on 15th (which would make people on Funston and on 14th happy, but not so awesome for people on 15th!).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Special Guest Post - The Teacher's Pet on the 9 San Bruno

The Teacher's Pet just sent me this headscratcher of a tale... Enjoy!

At around 2:45 pm yesterday, I boarded the 9 outbound at Potrero and 16th Street. It was packed so I crammed myself in to the strangers near the front door behind the yellow line.
A man sitting behind me suddenly exclaimed, "Hey driver, I meant to ask you to tell me when I'm at my stop."
The driver replied, "Okay, no problem. What stop are you looking for?"
The man replied, with no irony whatsoever, "San Francisco."
All of us on the crowded bus chuckled, assuming it was a joke, but the way he repeated his question quickly convinced us that he was not in the least bit kidding.

Everyone chimed in at the same time, telling him that all stops on this bus are in San Francisco, so he must have even boarded the bus in San Francisco.
"Hold up!" he cut us off. "Am I talking to y'all? Mind your own business, I'm speaking to the driver!"

When the driver confirmed what we'd already said, "We ARE in San Francisco..."
The man interrupted, "Oh NO! I missed it? Shoot!" This reaction was not in the least bit sarcastic.
The driver had to yell over the laughter, "No, this whole time we've been in San Francisco!"
The man still didn't get it. "Aw MAN, We passed it!?"

"San Francisco is big- you're looking for what area?" a friendly guy tried to help.
The addled man snapped at him, "SAN FRANCISCO."
A sarcastic lady said, "Well, he's right and we're all wrong. He knows where he's gotta go."
"Yes, SAN FRANCISCO," the man repeated, so stubborn. Everyone in earshot was either mid-laugh or stifling one since it was all so absurd.

The driver tried to help by taking a guess. "Our next stop is San Francisco General Hospital. Is that what you're looking for?"
"Well... hmmm..." the man considered this. "That sounds about right." He then made his way to the door and looked back at the crowd, volunteering the phrase "Psych ward?" like he'd just
remembered it and wanted to test it out on us.

We all affirmed this with nods as that's obviously where he needed to go. The bus stopped right at the front door of the hospital.
When the doors opened, I heard him mutter "Yeah, I'll just get off here and find a map. That's what I'll do, find a map." With that, the doors closed, and we were off.

I wonder if he made it.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Bus Report #443

A four bus night.
Last night I lazily took a 22 Fillmore to the Potrero Center to run errands. Afterwards, I went to check the NextBus sign in the bus shelter, but it would only say that there was a 53 Southern Heights bus coming in 18 minutes.
I walked to Mission, a nice, easy, painless walk, and stopped in to Casa Thai for some groceries.
As I waited in line to pay, I noticed a stack of Gefen brand kosher for passover macaroon containers displayed on top of the butcher's case. It was on 'especial', for $1.99. A steal, but not one I was going to make.
I waited for the 33 in the plaza on Mission at 16th. As usual, it was a crazy, colorful blur of activity.
A band made up of long-haired, skinny boys played discordant music over by the Antojitos stand. One of their songs was the theme song from the Disney Small World ride. They got a few head turns and strange looks when they played that one.
People waited for the bus with their kids, their bikes, their sacks of groceries.
Young men in baseball caps and shades palmed things to each other and went their separate ways.
One rather scarecrowy-crazy-looking man tried to get on the back of a 49 bus, then was kicked off a moment later by the driver for not paying his fare. He ranted at the driver and made some threatening gestures, and lurched away. A few of us moved away from where he was, just to be safe.
A tall, pale guy with a backpack leaned against a mail box. A petite woman with a dirty T-shirt wrapped around her head stood right in front of him and started asking him mostly unintelligible questions, which started and ended with, "Huh? What do you think, white man?" or "Hey, white boy." He ignored her, and she wandered away.
Several 14 Mission buses came by, the first few packed tightly, the last few mostly empty.
I waited, and waited, and the six-minute NextBus promise was broken twice over.
When the bus came it was crowded. I managed to get a seat near the window.
On Mission near 17th, a bike cop had a tall, thin man handcuffed. I wondered if he was going to put the guy on the front of his bike, or wait for a car to come for him.

As we pulled in to the 18th Street stop, I heard those dreaded words, "My last stop is Stanyan and Haight, there's another bus right behind me."
Screw it, I thought, I'll take it til there and switch. I'm not getting out now that I have a seat.
My seat mate was a youngish guy, dressed like a cowboy except for his baseball hat. He had a twang to his voice, which I thought was Southern but after a few minutes of him talking on the phone I realised he was Australian, but had probably lived here a while. He talked on the phone the whole ride.
Twenty sweaty, smelly-bus, clueless-out-of-towners minutes later, we pulled in to the last stop.
Amazing number of people didn't know it was the last stop, or else didn't hear the driver say it or just didn't understand, because only about 10 of us got out. The rest of the passengers eventually got out, and we waited for a minute or so for the next 33.
I got on and worked my way towards the back.
A woman was sitting in an aisle seat with an available window seat. I said that I'd like to sit down. She did not move an inch. I held up my two heavy bags, and she still didn't move. I made like I was going to squeeze by her and possibly hit her with the bags, so she finally sighed and slid over to take the window seat.
Even with all my stuff, if I'd been in the aisle seat and someone wanted to get in to the window, I WOULD STAND UP. Or I'd immediately slide in to the window seat. Jeez.
Everyone was happily settled in to our new bus. The Aussie was still on his phone, only now he was sitting across from me instead of next to me.
We motored towards the next stop.
A woman got on, not someone you would ever notice, just an average looking lady with a purse and a plastic bag of groceries. And because you can't have a bus ride without a crazy person, she was our crazy person for the duration.
She started to talk, loudly, in very broken and hard to understand English, that we "shouldn't trust the Chinese. They tried to poison me." etc., etc.
A boy and his mom exchanged smirks behind her back.
The man sitting in front of me leaned towards his seat mate and asked, "what's she going on about?"
To which the seat mate just shrugged and said, "who knows."
The woman continued to rail against an entire nation of people, and it never made sense.
I got out at Geary and was going to walk home, but my bags were weighing me down, so I caught a 38BX and rode home the rest of the way.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Bus Report #442

This morning I waited at the bus stop with an increasing number of commuters, as the minutes ticked by and no buses showed up.
NextBus wasn't helping: it said there was a 38 arriving and a 38L in 15 minutes, which seemed strange to most of us, who catch the same 38L most mornings, a 38L that should have been arriving any minute now.
In true Muni fashion, a 38L arrived a moment later, followed by a 38. We all crammed in to the 38L, and made our slow, torturous route down Geary.
Our bus was so slow, the 38 beat us to Fillmore by a couple of minutes.
I waited at Fillmore for the 22, watching four buses come and go in the opposite direction. When the bus came, I got on and made a beeline for a window seat.
It was a pretty empty bus and no one seemed to want to sit next to me (I swear I showered today, really!).
Quick and easy ride from then on...
Can't wait for tonight's commute...

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Bus Report #441

Yesterday afternoon on the 22 Fillmore:
Three early-teenaged girls (13? 14? Definitely no older than 15) stood right behind me, clustered around a seat and the pole next to it.
One girl had braces, one had a tight pony tail, and the third girl had a huge smile. They chatted loudly, but it wasn't annoying, it was actually kind of sweet.

Pony tail: My mom is turning 32 this year.
Braces: Oh yeah? I think mine is like, 33. I love that bitch. That woman. I love her.
Smiley: My mom's 40. Her birthday's in November.

A 20-something guy got out of the bus and walked off down the street. The girls watched him go.

Smiley: I like a guy with big eyelashes.
Pony tail: Really?
Smiley: Yeah. Not like, not like HUGE eyelashes but you know, I think it looks good.
She paused, then exclaimed to Braces: Ohmigod!I totally forgot you have braces. I just didn't remember.
Braces: Really?
Pony tail: I can't imagine kissing a boy with braces. Because, what if I cut my tongue on his braces?
Smiley: You just don't, like, put your tongue in. Or you do it carefully.
Pony tail: I heard that if you have braces and you kiss a boy with braces, your braces can get stuck.
Braces: That would be scary, but like really funny too.