Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bus Report #492

Rainy afternoon waiting for the 22 (4 minutes and 8 minutes) or the 10 (39 minutes or 54 minutes).
Three teenage boys stood under the bus shelter next to me.
"Man," said the tallest of the three. "My Dad just got back from the Philippines and the whole house smells like the Philippines! He took a shower, but like, it still smells."
His friends nodded sympathetically.
Another kid grinned and gestured towards a pair of girls who were walking down the hill. "Here comes Angela," he said.
The shortest of the boys slouched down on the bench. "Aw, man," he said.
"You should talk to her, but like, don't let her know you like her," the first boy advised.
The girls came over.
"Hey Steve," Angela said, after her friend elbowed her in her side. "Where you going?"
"Home," he replied.
"Oh, cool. Uh, want to come with us?" she asked.
"Where you going?" Steve asked.
The two girls looked at each other and giggled. smiled. Finally Angela's friend said, "We're going to Safeway."
"What? Why you going to Safeway?" Steve asked.
"To get a drink or something," Angela said. "You sure you don't want to come?"
"Nah, I got to get home," Steve mumbled.
The girls said good bye to the boys and they walked off down the street.

The bus came and I got on. I sat next to a man wearing a wool hat with ear flaps. I liked his hat.
The bus was warm and for the most part dry, and I felt sleepy as the bus rolled down 16th Street.
My seat mate got out at Potrero and A little boy sat beside me, his dad sitting behind us.
Soon the little guy was asleep. He kept leaning out into the aisle. His dad kept tapping his shoulder to wake him up. The kid would nod his head and mumble something, and then fall asleep a moment later.
The woman sitting in front of me talked loudly on her cell phone about her visit to the clinica, about how she had problems with her riƱones, how the doctor told her she needed to take some medicine.

I got out at Geary and caught a 38 right away, which was great because I was cold and wet and desperately wanted to get out of my wet boots.
I got out at 6th Ave. to run some errands. Halfway down the block, a homeless man stood almost in the street, yelling at the back of one of San Francisco's finest.
I am a fast walker and soon I caught up to the police officer. "Excuse me," I said. "There's a man back there, yelling."
"I know," said the cop. "He's been yelling at me and following me for 30 minutes, but there's nothing I can do about it. These people are mentally ill, you know?"
Yes, I know.
I nodded. What could I possibly say? Nothing.
"Well, sorry, have a good evening," was all I could manage.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bus Report #491

Saturday night, 11:15 PM, inbound 38 Geary bus.
I got on and went to the back of the bus, where the only open seat was next to a half-dozen bottle-blonde, ugly-boots-wearing, cleavage bearing, no-older-than-22-year-old girls. They talked to each other in pairs, about blind dates and papers due Monday, about where they were getting out the bus.
The front part of the bus was mostly full of young Latino guys, some who might have been high school students and the rest I recognized as stock boys and restaurant workers from the Clement Street stores and Chinese places I walk by (or go into) all the time.
In the very back of the bus there was an older guy wearing a Gilligan-style hat. He was very obviously messed up, drunk or high or both. I didn't pay any attention to him, or to anything really, until the blonde sitting next to me cut in to her own conversation, turning towards the Gilligan man and said, "NO! You stop it! You do NOT pretend you're shooting a gun at me! Cut it out right now!"
Everyone turned to look. The high school kids, stock boys, other blondes and me.
The Gilligan man started to stand up, muttering and shouting at the blonde girl. Saying things like, "Don't you tell me what to do, you little bitch," and the like.
As he got more aggressive towards the blonde, she just yelled at him even louder.
The Gilligan man took a few steps forward.
The blonde shifted to the edge of her seat.
A nerdy-looking guy who had just gotten on the bus at the last stop made his way to the back of the bus. He wore a leather (or faux leather?) jacket with some patches on the sleeve that looked like boy scout patches. He had thick Clark Kent glasses and a buzz cut.
He effortlessly moved between the blonde and the Gilligan man. He lightly touched the man's sleeve and a moment later the two of them were sitting down in the back row of seats, the Gilligan man still muttering, the nerdy-guy nodding sincerely and trying to engage the man in conversation.
The blondes were silent. A few minutes later, they got out at 6th Ave., headed towards the Bitter End.
One of the high school boys laughed and said, "Man, that dude scared off those girls."
But he hadn't. They had been planning to get out there all along.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bus Report #490

Last night I took a 10 Townsend downtown and decided to switch to the 2 Clement instead of my usual 38L. I got out at the corner of Sansome and Sutter and waited for the bus with a herd of suits.
I managed to get a seat near the back, next to a very large-assed woman who took up almost half of my seat. I had to sit with my arms slack in front of me, that's how tight a squeeze it was. The whole ride, it felt like her legs were trying to burrow into mine. It made me feel a little sick.
Still, it was a seat on a crowded bus and I wasn't going to give it up easily.

A woman got on and hobbled towards the back of the bus. Her leg was in an immobilizer. I asked her if she wanted to sit down.
"Thanks, but I'd have to keep my leg stretched out so I'd end up tripping people," she said.
"That would be funny, but bad," I replied.
My seatmates got out at Laguna (thank goodness, thank goodness, I could breathe again and move my arms!) and I saw that they were young, High School or College kids, not quite sure where they needed to go.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bus Report #489

Last night I took the 22 down to Geary. It wasn't a very crowded bus and I managed to get a window seat next to a woman who spent the rest of the ride reading. I couldn't see what her book was, but she was very engrossed in it.
At Mission Street, our more or less speedy commute ceased and we entered the realm of the crawling in fits and starts commute.
A wheelchair passenger got on but no one in the front of the bus made a move to help her.
A man with a walker got on and the driver had to ask someone to stand up so he could sit down.
Half a dozen people rushed the back door, and then wouldn't step up off the stairs so the doors could close.
We slowly made our way down 16th Street. The bus started to empty out a bit at Church, only to fill up again at Duboce.
A boy with an amazing hairstyle got on and stood in front of my seat. He had the sides of his head shaved, Mohawk style, and had the Golden Gate Bridge and the Transamerica Pyramid etched into the left side of his head. Wow. I wondered if it would be weird to say, "Great haircut" to him, so I just sat there and kept my mouth shut.
I got out at Geary and skipped across the street to the bus stop. The 38L was crowded, too, but I made my way to the back of the bus and got a seat next to another woman reading a book. This time, the book was in Russian.
A twenty something couple stood nearby, the girl telling the guy about her day, how she took the kids she sits for to the park. They got out at Presidio.
A few stops later, a woman stood up too quickly and immediately started to fall, into the arms of a very startled looking teenage girl. The woman apologized a few times, the girl nodded her head, and when the woman got out, the girl rolled her eyes at her friend.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Bus Report #488

This morning was just like yesterday morning. I waited at the bus stop with the same worried-looking girl, got on the same 38 with the same driver, sat next to the same elderly man with his big backpack and his slouchy cap.
I jumped out at Geary and Fillmore and crossed the street to the 22 stop. The curbs were both completely ripped up and surrounded with construction blocks. I stepped around them and waited for the bus.
I was joined by the creepiest of the rude construction worker guys and a woman who I didn't recognize. She kept going over to the construction blocks and peered over them to see what was going on. Strange.
The bus came and I got on. Said 'hi' to the man with the blue track jacket and glasses who is always friendly. Nodded to the woman who has the same hot cup from an Austin cafe that I have at work.
My seat mate got up and out at Mission Street. I slid over into the window seat to make room for someone new to sit down.
Too bad for me, because I ended up with a very, very stinky woman next to me. She looked like she might have been in her forties but life had not been good to her, and she looked more like she was in her sixties. She used a cane, wore a stained jacket, and smelled of years worth of old cigarettes. That almost nutty smell.
When we got closer to my stop, I told her I needed to get out, figuring it would take forever for her to move so I could get out. I was right.
She slowly slowly turned a little, but not really enough for me to get past her without bumping in to her. I managed to squeeze by her, but ended up stepping on her feet in the process. The man sitting across from us smiled at me. (Perhaps because my ass was almost in his face while I tripped over the woman's feet, finally catching my footing just before the bus pulled in to the stop.)
I pushed my way through the door and walked down 16th, taking deep breaths of cool air, the stinky woman on her way to being forgotten.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Bus Report #487

This morning when I got down to Fillmore, I could hear the roar of the high pressure hose that the Clean Patrol uses to clean the bus stop. I was annoyed, because they never actually clean anything and instead those of us waiting for the 22 are forced to stand all the way over to the side to wait for the bus.
So I was surprised, very surprised, to get to the bus stop and see that the entire stop (which takes up a whole block) was white with soap suds. The benches, the glass panels, the trashcan and the sidewalk, white white, sudsy, sudsy like when our dishwasher overflowed all over the kitchen. The man who was doing the cleaning wore a mask over his nose and mouth. He was spraying water over the glass panels when I arrived.
I looked at him, kind of raised my hands in a questioning gesture to ask where I should stand. He turned off the hose for a moment and beckoned me over.
"Don't worry, ma'am," he said. "You can still catch the bus here. Why don't you stand over here, where it's already clean."
I thanked him and carefully navigated through the suds to the far side of the stop.
The soap had a heavy, floral scent. It was sickly sweet and I wished I had a mask, too.
The man took his time rinsing the benches and the sidewalk.
When the bus finally pulled up, I waved goodbye to the man and thanked him.
Thanked him for doing a great job, and for being so nice to a sleepwalking early morning commuter.
He just smiled (having pulled down the mask) and said, "It's about time, huh?" meaning, of course, the bus.

Last night my 22 Fillmore was extremely crowded. Our driver though, what a champ.
She was the queen of the PA system. Here are a few of her fabulous announcements.
"Move on back everybody. We'll be at Mission Street soon, and then the bus will clear out a bit. Meanwhile, hold on tight and move on back."
"Next stop, Mission Street, thank god."
"Everybody have a great evening, and Happy Groundhog Day to you all. Let's hope he doesn't see his shadow."
"Have a good night, and take care."
Super lady, just super.

My seat mate for the duration was the older man with the briefcase who is often on my bus in the mornings. He smiled at me and asked me where my dog was.
"Oh, I don't have a dog," I told him. "But I know who you mean, and yeah, her dog is really cute."
He apologized, but there was no need to.