Monday, December 21, 2009

Bus Report #478

Ah, the week before Christmas, when the buses are empty and quiet and almost a joy to ride.
Except this morning on the 22, when I unfortunately sat down in a window seat next to a very greasy, smelly, horrifically nasty, probably recently vacated by someone from a nightmare seat.
It took a few minutes for me to notice how gross it was. I opened several windows but it didn't help. I looked around to see who smelled so bad, but there was no one nearby.
Finally, I moved to sit behind a girl in matching white bulky knit hat and scarf, who held a steaming cup of coffee in her hands. The wisps of steam wafted back towards me and her coffee smelled much, much better than the bus did.

Unrelated - Check out the group photo exhibit at Blush by the CALIBER folks. I went Thursday night to say hi and check out the art. I plan to go again when it's less crowded to take some more time to look at their great photos. Great show, guys. Nice to meet those of you I haven't met before.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bus Report #477

The rain was really coming down this morning, but I only got a little wet, and that was on the bus. The usual culprit on Muni on a rainy day: people shaking out their umbrellas with no regard to anyone else. Ah, well.
I rode down to Fillmore in relative silence, listening to a sad episode of This American Life. At Fillmore I stood under the overhang with a woman who was reading a paperback book, the kindly older nurse and a couple of the annoying and pushy construction guys (who shook off their umbrellas right next to me, no shocker there!)
The bus came and the driver pulled up right in front of me. I got in and was happy to see Carmen in our usual seat, for the second morning in a row.
"Que tal?" she asked me, as we both hurriedly put away our headphones.
We chatted and she said she was glad her bus was late this morning so that we could sit and talk with each other. I was glad, too. It was warm in the bus even though the floors were wet and everyone looked bedraggled and half-drowned. Carmen got off at her usual stop and I rode the rest of the way down 16th to work.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bus Report #476

Dare I say that I had a lovely commute this afternoon on the 19 Polk? Well, I did.
I got on at my usual stop, sat in the back with a few heavily bundled, quiet people. At Market, a man with a cane got on and settled in to the seat across from me.
"Merry Christmas," he said.
I smiled and said, "You too, sir."
He grinned. "Lemme ask you something," he began. "You seen these people in flip flops walking around?"
"Actually, I have," I said, still smiling. "This morning there was a girl in flip flops on my bus."
"Now, I can tell you know what I'm sayin'," he said. "It's the winter time, these people should be hibernatin' til spring. Then they can get up, take off a few pounds, put on them flip flops."
I nodded in agreement.
"I tell ya," he said, shaking his head. "I'm just thankin' god he let another black man make it to 49 years. You done your Christmas shopping yet?" he asked me.
"Not really," I said. No need to explain I'm Jewish. "I got a few small things for my family but that's it."
"Yeah I hear ya," he said. "You could wait til the after Christmas sales, get yourself some real bargains."
A young couple got on at the Asian Museum stop. The man had a Macy's bag with a Santa Mickey Mouse on the side of it. My new friend looked at the bag, said, "You done your shopping for the baby, now?"
The young couple smiled. The boyfriend said, "Naw, the baby shopping's been done. This is a little something for ME." he laughed. His girlfriend smiled and went back to playing a game on her phone.
We pulled in to the O'Farrell Street stop. My friend stood up slowly, leaning on his cane. "You take care of that little baby," he told the couple. Then he looked at me and said, "You have a good night young lady."
"You too, sir," I said.

The automated announcement about service changes came on. The girlfriend in the couple listened to the Spanish version and then said, "Ese-Eme-Tay-Ah." I looked up at her and smiled. She blushed. "Trying to learn the Spanish," she said.
I said, "Now we have to learn the Chinese version, then we'll be awesome," and I winked.

Later, I waited for a 1 California and fiddled with my ancient headphones, adjusting the foam parts, which were hanging on to the ear pieces, but just barely. I put on an album I'd been thinking of today, and while I stood in the bus stop I thought, I know why we have rib cages, it's to keep our hearts from leaping out of our chests. The music was just that good, just that heartbreaking. I stared out the window of my bus, letting the songs transport me back in time, while a crazy man stood a few rows behind me ranting and raving.

When I got out the bus I turned to look back at it, and I caught eyes with a man sitting near the door. He smiled at me, I smiled back, it was a nice yet fleeting moment, and I felt energized and good.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Bus Report #475

Cold weather edition

Where to start? I took a lot of buses today, and the one theme running across all the lines was the cold. People were bundled up in all their winter clothes, some people better than others.
One little girl wore knee high boots and a thick winter coat with a hat pulled down over her ears. But she was also wearing a short skirt and tights.
The teens who go to Catholic school somewhere in Noe Valley all had jeans on under their school uniform skirts.
On my 22 this morning, the Postal Service guys had on regulation parkas and woolly hats.

I took a 10 Townsend downtown for lunch. The new route isn't bad, but sadly won't work that well for me to take it home in the afternoons. My bus was pretty empty except for a man who sat in front of me who smelled like rotten food. I cracked the window open.

This afternoon my 22 was full but quiet. My seat mate, a heavyset woman in a puffy coat, took up a lot of the seat but I didn't mind, as she was very warm and kept me warm, too, whether she wanted to or not. She spent the whole ride on the phone with Kaiser, talking in Spanish, trying to reschedule a doctor's appointment. I didn't need to know all about her medical needs. Some things you should do at home.

A flower vendor got on at Mission and sat across from me. He had a crate full of bouquets of carnations. The flowers were really vibrant and while I don't usually go for carnations, I thought about buying some.
He must have been tired, because he soon fell asleep. He leaned forward over his crate, occasionally stirring to touch the flowers, before falling asleep again.
He bolted awake at Hayes and tried to scramble out of the bus, but in his haste he kicked over his flowers and fell down on his knees. A boy standing in the step well helped him up and he got out.

Slight Muni fail at Geary and Fillmore, where three packed packed buses showed up at the same time, two 38Ls and a 38. The 38 said it was going to Ocean Beach. Isn't that one of the lines that was terminated, or am I wrong?

I stood in the bus shelter clutching a bulky tote bag holding a Wild Side Snuggie (a birthday present from a friend, not something I would have bought, thanks, GJ!) and a huge plastic container I was taking home from work. I finally got on the back of the crowded 38, and sat next to a smelly man who, unfortunately, also gets out at my stop. Cringe.

Walked home as fast as I could and was greeted by the heat blowing full blast when I went inside.


Monday, December 07, 2009

Bus Report #474

How is everyone dealing with the Muni changes? I know I am mourning the loss of the 4-Sutter (a second choice bus for me when the 2 is late), the shortened route of the 2-Clement and the 10-Townsend (well, its actually got a longer route, but not in the direction that I need.)
This weekend I noticed new recordings on the 33, 21, 38 and 22 (new stop announcements, mostly, and the recorded-in-three-languages-Dec-5-changes-message).
I am very excited for increased service on the 38L and the 44 O'Shaughnessy. Very, very excited.

Last week I rode the 22 with Carmen, and we caught up on the holiday happenings.
The eighties woman was on my 22 Tuesday morning. She is crazy, and I don't just mean her misguided fashion. She talks to herself, a lot.
An elderly woman who I used to see every morning while waiting for the bus was actually on my bus the other day. She beamed at me and greeted me like an old long lost friend. It was very sweet.

This morning my 22 Fillmore came off the wires in front of the Potrero Center. We sat there ten minutes before I got up and started walking. Of course, the bus finally started to move after I'd walked a block. Frustrating!

The Carmen Banana mural is back on the side of the natural grocery in the Lower Haight, and that makes me smile.

Anyone seen any good Christmas decorations yet? There is a building on Hermann with a lot of lights, and I saw a big plastic Santa somewhere along 16th, but that's about it so far.