Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bus Report #499

I caught a 22 Fillmore bus last night, after hanging out for a bit with The Teacher's Pet.
The bus was empty until we hit Potrero, and it kept filling up after that.
My first seat mate was a quiet man listening to his headphones. He had a plastic bag with him that contained two gorgeous beets and a small glass jar of honey.
He got out at Mission and was replaced by an older gentleman, who soon started talking politics with a wiry fellow with a very white beard who stood nearby. The older gentleman was named James and he was 75 years old, the man with the white beard was Bill.
"I don't want to get into it with you if its going to be a completely black and white discussion," Bill warned.
James laughed. "Man, we're all the same under the skin, I don't care none about any of that."
I wasn't paying close attention, but they both seemed to agree on everything they were talking about. Health care, how much they disliked Republicans, 'young people today'. It put a smile on my face.
Bill got out at Church Street, but not before he shook James' hand and said, "I enjoyed this, see you again soon."

The man who-looks-familiar-from-the-back got on at Duboce. I hadn't seen him in a while and had just been thinking about him in the morning, so it was good to see him. A little scruffier than usual, a little more tired than usual, but otherwise, still familiar, from the back and from the front.

There are new signs in the windows at Hotel Casa Loma (the signs call it Casa Loma Hotel). People are living there but I can't tell if it's a dorm/SRO situation or more of a hotel situation. At any rate, it is looking better than it has in a while.

And, unrelated...

My next post will be my 500th! I'd like to have a contest of sorts but no one ever enters my contests (well, except for Kathleen and Rachel that one time...), so if anyone is interested drop me a line. The prizes, if I offer prizes, will be gift certificates from Toy Boat Dessert Cafe.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bus Report #498

Sunday afternoon I went out for a walk, and got to the 44 O'Shaughnessy stop at 6th and California just as a bus was scheduled to pass by. I thought I would take advantage of the quick across-the-park ride, so I waited with a few plastic-bag-laden shoppers for the bus to arrive.
I got on and sat near the back.
We had smooth sailing most of the ride.
The weather was beautiful, warm, with bright sun and fresh air, and the park was full of people riding bikes, swing dancing, heading to the museums and just out for the afternoon, kids and dogs and picnic baskets in tow. It was so picturesque, Disney couldn't have done it better.
We pulled in to the stop by the De Young. The driver hadn't been letting people in through the back of the bus. She had already yelled at one man for getting in through the back.
So the front doors open and a crowd of people filtered in.
An older man and his child bride came on through the back door. The driver immediately said, "You need to enter through the front door, sir, ma'am, please come up here and show your transfers."
The child bride dutifully marched to the front and flicked her Fast Pass at the driver.
Her husband, a slow-moving, cranky-looking man, also walked to the front, where he sprawled out in a seat.
"Sir, your transfer or Fast Pass," said the driver.
The man sucked his teeth and scowled. "Man, you need to just let it go, my Diabetes is acting up, I just need to sit down, just let it go."
I know I was not the only passenger who, in that moment, knew we would be sitting there for a while.
The driver had every right to ask for his proof of purchase, I had no problem with that, but she did bait him a little.
Soon the two of them were shouting back and forth.
He called her a bitch, told her again and again that his Diabetes was 'acting up', that he needed to sit. Meanwhile, his child bride sat perfectly still and quiet and did not do anything to break up the argument.
"You're going to have to get off this bus and take the bus behind me," the driver said. "I will not have anyone talk to me like that."
The child bride wordlessly slipped out of the bus.
The man lurched to his feet and went up to the front, so that he was right in the driver's face, threatening her, going on and on about his Diabetes, how he hadn't done anything wrong, how she was a bitch.
The driver said, "Do you talk to your wife like that?"
I thought, of course he does.
He finally got out, spent some more time yelling at our driver as she shut the door and drove us off.
In the back of the bus, people were shaking their heads and murmuring to each other.
The man sitting next to me said, "Can you believe it?"
I said, "He should have just paid his fare and left it alone. If he was so sick, how did he have the strength to argue so much?"
The girl sitting across from me said, "She was egging him on, though."
"She was," I agreed.
Our driver was still upset. "He had no right to talk to me like that," she said, to all of us. "I don't have to take that kind of abuse."
I was relieved to finally jump out the bus at 9th and Irving. The day was just so lovely, I didn't need bus drama to ruin it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bus Report #497

I spent a few hours on Saturday wandering down on Polk Street, enjoying a tea at Leland Tea Company, checking out the sales at the store that used to be Bargain Bank. I decided I'd take the 1 California back up to my neighborhood and was able to catch one within a few minutes of getting to the bus stop.
I got a seat next to a well-dressed woman who spent the whole ride staring out the window.
At Fillmore and California, a woman with a walker got on. This wouldn't normally be newsworthy, but as she got on the bus she looked at the two (equally elderly and disabled) ladies sitting in the two front seats and asked them to move. Neither of them was very mobile so neither of them moved, and the woman with the walker galumphed past them both, her walker walking over their feet as she went. She sat down, then waved two dollars at one of the ladies. She wanted the woman to pay her fare for her.
I would have said no, if I was as fragile-looking as the woman was, but she graciously reached for the money and slowly stood up. She tottered towards the fare box and explained to the driver that it was the woman with the walker's money. She got a transfer, sat back down, and passed the transfer to the woman with the walker.
The whole situation just seemed incredibly rude and selfish to me, as the woman with the walker could have paid her fare when she got on.
She got out at 6th Ave., mashing the other ladies' feet, again, as she got out.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bus Report #496

Last night I caught a 19 Polk headed towards downtown.
My seatmate was an older... person (at first I couldn't tell/didn't really notice their gender) with extremely dry skin (I've heard people talk about 'chapped hands' but had never seen them myself), a baseball cap and a vest, one of those vests you see on crossing guards and people like that.
I hadn't been sitting down for more than a minute when my seat mate started to talk. "Lovely day out today, isn't it?"
It was a woman.
I smiled at her. "Very nice," I replied.
She continued to talk, ask me questions and generally entertain me for the duration of the ride. As we neared the new Federal Building, she asked me what I thought about it.
"I think it looks great," I said.
"You're the second person who has told me that," she said, shaking her head. "You really like it? I think it looks crazy!"
We commiserated about how annoying it is when someone hits you with their backpack, because someone was hitting me with his backpack. At Market, I stood up to leave.
"It was nice talking to you," I said.
"You, too," she said. "I hope I see you again."

This morning on the 22 I ended up sitting beside the woman who works with Carmen, also known as the woman who has the hot cup from a cafe in Austin that is a match for one I've got at work (Whew. we need a nickname for her!)
A woman in front of us spent, no joke, about fifteen minutes smearing liquid foundation onto her face. It was gross, and the woman who works with Carmen and I kept exchanging incredulous glances.
Several teens got on at Hayes. One of the girls sat next to the makeup-slatherer.
A moment later, the makeup-slatherer turned to the girl and asked her if she had rubbed in all the makeup.
Carmen's coworker and I exchanged looks again, and this time I had to suppress my laughter.
It was really something.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Bus Report #495

Last night the weather changed at least five times during my evening commute.
As I walked to the bus stop, what started as a light rain became a pelting hail. Hail. I couldn't really believe it, and held my hand out to catch the tic-tac size balls of ice in my palm.
At my bus stop I cast a glance at a woman with an umbrella. I didn't have one, didn't even have a hood on my coat to stay dry.
The woman took pity on me. "Come over here," she said. "It's too wet and too cold, you'll get sick."
We huddled under her little red umbrella and waited.
And waited.
"The bus is sure late," she said.
"I'll take whatever comes first," I told her.
NextBus had said (before I ventured out) that the 10 would arrive in 8 minutes and the 22 in 13 minutes.
Almost fifteen minutes later, the 10 pulled up.
"Thanks for sharing your umbrella," I told the woman, and then got on the bus.
It was warm, but apparent that not much earlier the windows had been open, because all the seats in the front were wet and the floor was slippery.
The rain would stop, then start up again, then the sky would grow dark, then it would be bright and sunny for a few minutes, before the sky would open up again.
You could tell how long people had been waiting for the bus by their level of drenchedness.
I know I had some hail clinging to my sleeves when I had first gotten on the bus.

I got out at Mission and wove my way through a sea of black umbrellas, walking fast towards the bus stop. Several minutes later I was on a toasty warm 38, headed towards home.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Bus Report #494

This morning my 38L was extremely crowded, so I stood in the middle and clutched a pole, while someone's wet umbrella kept brushing my leg.
I couldn't wait to get out of the bus.
I jumped out at Fillmore. When I got to the 22 stop, I saw that a cab was half-assedly pulled in to the stop and a white van was diagonal across the street a few feet away.
A family (loud jabbering mom, quiet teen son and daughter, scruffy quiet dad) stood near the cab while a tall man with a notepad (the cabbie) peered at the cab and at at the van, making notes on the damage.
The van has a slightly crumpled bumper and from what I could tell it had hit the side of the cab, because the teens kept going over to the cab with the cell phones to snap photos of the damage.
The mom suddenly lunged at the cabbie, who got right back in there, yelling, "You don't know what the hell you're talking about! You are going about this all wrong!"
Mom shrieked again and suddenly there was Dad, about to punch the cabbie.
I took a step towards the knot of angry people. If it escalated, I was just going to call the cops.
It was too damn early to have to listen to this kind of bullshit.
The teen boy grabbed his dad and hauled him back away from the cabbie.
The family huddled together while the cabbie took some more notes.
The police arrived (I couldn't tell if they were just passing through or if they had been called) and they made the dad move the van so traffic could get by. One cop stood with the cabbie and the other cop stood with the family.
The bus came before anything was resolved, but that was okay.
Though I do hope the cabbie comes out on top, since it looked like the van had been the problem and not the cab.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Bus Report #493

Not much to report this week, commute wise, so far.
I think we can all agree that Friday's Muni vote, cutting service another 10%, was horrible, but though I am usually a glass-half-empty-type, I'm trying to stay glass-half-full about it, for now.

Friday evening NextBus actually worked for me, and I caught my 33 Stanyan with no problem, and was in the Mission 25 minutes later.

Saturday saw me take a crowded 38 down to Masonic. An elderly woman sat in front of me. She smelled very, very strongly of pine-scented floor cleaner, and I hoped she wasn't using it as a personal hygiene product.

Later, I took a 28 from the Marina back home, and I think I was the only local on the bus. It emptied out at the bridge and we cruised the rest of the way home, and it was great.

This morning I ran through the rain to the bus stop, soaked after only four minutes and one block. The bus was full of people holding their umbrellas and soaked tote bags on the seats next to where they were sitting, as usual on a rainy day, halving the usable seats and just generally getting me riled up.

But there were good moments, too. Seeing Carmen on the 22, catching up with her and actually having some good gossip to share. Listening to a favorite radio show and tearing up halfway through. Braving the elements and climbing the hill, to be rewarded with a warm office and a hot cup of coffee a few minutes later.

And feeling just generally thankful today. Thankful for my family and friends, thankful the earthquake in Chile wasn't as bad as it could have been, I don't know... But I hope I'm not the only one feeling so great today.