Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bus Report #507

This morning I was halfway to the bus stop when a 38L rode by. I hadn't gone more than another few feet when a second 38L approached. I was resigned to crossing Park Presidio and waiting at the bus stop for whatever came next, when the 38L signaled that it was pulling over, and a moment later the bus stopped in front of me and the door opened.
It was my new favorite morning driver. He smiled and I got on.
"Talk about great service," I said, grinning. I held up my fast pass. "Thanks a lot," I said.
"You're welcome," he replied, still smiling.
Now there's a great driver for you. The kind of guy who will pull over and pick up a regular passenger, and I wasn't even running for the bus or waving frantically or anything like that!
Thank you, friendly driver!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bus Report #506

Last night I took a 1 California down to Polk Street to go to The Teacher's Pet's birthday party.
NextBus predicted buses in 1 minute, 9 minutes, and 25 minutes. I put on my shoes and coat and flew out the door to make the bus in 9 minutes.
My sweet neighbor was on her way up to her apartment and stopped me for a chat, which I would have loved, but there was no time.
"I've got to catch a bus," I told her. "I'll talk to you later."
I half ran, half walked down the street. Got to the bus stop with time to spare.
The bus pulled up right on time. I got in and took a seat a couple rows back from the back door.
The bus never got full, but a few minutes later I had a pair of ladies sitting in front of me chatting loudly in Chinese, and their friend sat next to me, leaning forward so she could chat with them.
As our bus left the Laurel and California stop, someone in the front of the bus went, "SHHH!"
It was obviously directed to my seat mate and her friends.
The three of them were stunned. My seat mate looked at me and I burst out laughing, then she started laughing, and we shook our heads at each other.
The ladies resumed their conversation, but now they were practically whispering.
When we got to my stop, my seat mate made room for me to get out. I thanked her and hopped down from the bus, and went to the party.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bus Report #505

I thought I was late for the bus today, but it turned out I was right on time.
I caught a 38L that was mostly empty. The two rude construction workers were sitting in the middle section of the bus. One of them was asleep with his mouth wide open.
At Fillmore we all got out and went to wait for the 22.
Our driver, when the bus showed up, was new.
I looked for a seat and decided to sit next to a woman with her backpack on the seat. She was annoyed that anyone would bother her, and she took her sweet time moving her backpack and shifting over.
She wore scrubs and had a badge from a hospital clipped to her shirt.
So Lauren S., next time, buy a second transfer for your bag or else just put up and shut up. Especially since I'm probably the least creepy person who could be sitting next to her!
She got out at Church.
Our bus filled up with all the usuals: the sewing ladies, the day laborers, the students who go to the middle school near my office.
My new seatmate was a big guy, and his hip and leg kept smashing in to me. His hip seemed so rigid, or bony that I wondered if he had a hip replacement.

We idled at Mission and 16th for a while. A man with a small cart made his way to the public toilet and pulled the (already ajar) door open the rest of the way. A moment later, a very 16th Street plaza twitchy, shifty couple tried to get in the bathroom. The man started yanking at the door, and he got it part of the way open before realizing it was occupied. The couple waited until the man was done.

I got out at my usual stop and waited for the light to change. A few minutes later, coffee in hand, I walked the rest of the way down the hill to work.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bus Report #504

Man, but yesterday was weird. My day started when I somehow got confused, thought my alarm went off, and ended up freshly showered and dressed standing in my kitchen at 4:30 AM. Oy.
Suffice it to say, by the time I left for work I had a spotlessly clean apartment, a well-thought-out lunch and enough caffeine in my system to carry me for the next few hours. My 38 bus was fine, uneventful, and so was my 22 Fillmore. Ah, the perks of making the early bus and the subsequent early connection.

From here on out, this is going to be a doozy of a story, so grab a drink and sit down.

Fast forward to last night.
I checked NextBus before leaving work, and saw that there were a couple 22s and a 10 en route to my usual stop. Fine. I would take whatever came first.

The 22 rolled up. It was full, but I managed to make my way to the back of the bus, where the only open seat was next to a huge teenage boy wearing a nice (slightly against type) lavender button down shirt.
I had my headphones on and didn't really want to hear these kids talk about their awesome plans for smoking pot in the Haight ("it's 420, my n_____, where do you think I'm gonna be?" "my n_____, I've been smoking since this morning!") or anything else.
Well, I'm glad I caught some of their conversation, because these kids... man. I wouldn't want to be an adult in their lives, seriously. One kid talked about his four felonies and how he couldn't afford a fifth. One girl talked about how much she hated her continuation school way out on Third Street. Another boy bragged about stealing cars. Awesome!
Meanwhile, a woman sitting in the back row kept nodding off, waking up every few minutes to make faces and sort of vaguely threaten someone sitting a few seats away from her. The man sitting across from me kept shooting me 'can-you-believe-this' looks, which I returned with a smile and roll of my eyes.
It was business as usual until we hit Mission Street.

Now, I was sitting in a rear facing seat with my headphones on, so it took me a minute to notice something was happening.
The bus pulled in to the stop, and as usual at Mission, people pushed and shoved their way out, then people pushed and shoved their way on.
A noise I can only describe as sounding like a cross between a stampede, a rustling sound getting louder and louder and a full on fight suddenly broke my afternoon daze.
Someone was yelling and hitting people, the kids near me were egging him on, it was a full on fracas!
And guess where the perpetrator was heading!
Yep, the rear of the bus!
So I turned around and saw people sort of jumping backwards out the bus, then this scruffy guy with shampoo-commercial-after-using-the-product shiny hair bursts past a couple of the teens who were, at this point, standing on their seats laughing, and this guy stands right between the seats and starts screaming, "why can't they speak English? Why can't they move to the rear of the goddamn bus? Why can't they get out of my fucking way?"
He then stops yelling, exchanges a complicated handshake with one of the kids and says, "sorry man, I shouldn't have pushed you."
If I had a thought bubble over my head, it would have said, WHAT?
At this point, everyone else is realizing we are not going anywhere until this dude gets off the bus, voluntarily or otherwise. I cut my eyes at him, as do a few other people, while he continues to, in turns, talk normally and scream crazily at the kids and at the driver.
The kids, of course, are eating this up.
The nodding off woman starts screaming at the bus driver, "Hey you, n____, let's move the goddamn bus."
The kids join in, shouting things like, "I gotta get to work, driver!" "I gotta pick up the kids" "Move the goddamn bus, my n____!"
I sucked my teeth, sighed. The man sitting across from me shot me another look.
After some more yelling and abuse hurled at the driver (who was not at fault, who really, REALLY should have called the cops, I would have been a witness, if no one else), the man said, in a normal tone, "Well, I guess I should get out, let the rest of you keep going."
So he did, and we did, and that was the end of that.
Parting 'shot' from the nodding off woman, "Damn, you know sometimes white people are crackers, and that guy, well, talk about crackers. And that dude he was fighting with? He was high on crystal."
This seems like a good place for some sort of 'junkie calling the speed freak a meth head' or similar saying, but I can't quite get it as funny as I'd like it.

When we got to Fillmore, getting off the bus was like a breath of fresh air, albeit a breath of fresh air mixed with pot, which was the smell I smelled the most yesterday afternoon on the way home.
Even on my 38, a quiet bus with surprisingly nice kids, the woman sitting in front of me reeked of skunky pot.
One of the teens pulled the woman's sweatshirt hood down and said, "You know, I can smell you from over here."
The woman gave the kid (who I guess she knew) a look, then slinked off the bus at the next stop.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bus Report #503

Sunday was the Third CALIBER photo walk. I made sure my camera had batteries (and that my small LOMO had film, unlike last time) and then I hoofed it out to the bus. It was hot out, and the 38 was stuffy because most of the windows were closed. I opened a few and squeezed in to a seat between a kid with a huge backpack and a woman loaded down with shopping bags. I managed to zone out for most of the ride, until we hit Fillmore.
I got out and walked to the 22 stop. There were a few pasty-white-folks-in-shorts buying tickets at the Fillmore Auditorium. In the bus stop, there was a woman passed out on one of the benches and a few kids standing in the shade, paying with their igadgets.
The bus came a few minutes later. It was surprisingly empty, so I slid in to a window seat on the shady side and put on my headphones to listen to some music.
We glided down Fillmore Street. It's always strange for me to ride the bus in the early part of the day, because it's not 7 AM and it's not 5 PM, stores are open and people are actually outside doing things other than waiting for buses. There were guys hanging out in the mini park near the police station.
I got out at 16th and Valencia. It is still weird to see how wide the sidewalk is on Valencia now. And sad to see Abandoned Planet Books gone. I walked a little bit, then stopped for a lemonade before heading to 16th and Mission to meet everyone for the photo walk.
The walk was great fun, it was nice to meet new people and see people I've met before. I haven't posted my photos yet, but I will, probably this weekend.
Thanks, CALIBER!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bus Report #502

Saturday morning I was up early, to take a class at City College Continuing Ed.* at Fort Mason. I walked up to Park Presidio and stood in the bus shelter, squinting in the morning sun. The bus was on time and soon I was headed towards the bridge with a handful of tourists and a few sewing ladies headed for... Not sure. Somewhere on Lombard, I think.
It was a quiet ride to the bridge, no traffic due to the early hour. There were about thirty cyclists in their head to toe advertising cycling gear, all clumped together on their bikes in front of the bridge cafe.
I thought, what a lovely day for a ride over the bridge to Marin. Clear and warm and not a single cloud obscuring the view. I hope they had a good ride.
The bus circled back around and joined the rest of the Marina-bound traffic. I got out at Divisadero and wandered down to Chestnut to get a coffee before class.

The ride back home later on that afternoon was just as easy and chill. More tourists, more confusion at the bridge stop (buses bound in both directions share the same stop, a little confusing for first timers) and more igadget engaged teens.

*Little plug here for CCSF Continuing Ed. I've taken at least one class a term here for years, they have a lot of great offerings though some of the locations are annoying. I can vouch for the writing classes, as well as a sewing class and one of the cooking classes. Email me for details if you want my opinions!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Contest Winner Announced!

Thanks to Dani and sfmike for entering my contest.
I just put their names in a hat and randomly chose....


So Dani, email me or put a note in the comments and let me know which prize you want, and how to get it to you.

Thanks for playing!


Friday, April 09, 2010

Bus Report #500

500th post! Read to the bottom for contest information... Contest Extended!

Yesterday afternoon was all about running. I ran for the 22, catching it just before it pulled out of the stop. Got a seat towards the back. The bus stayed crowded for most of the ride.
What struck me the most about it was that people really were reserving the front seats for the elderly and the disabled. Every time an older person or someone who seemed disabled got on the bus, someone sitting in the front would get up and move towards the back, until the whole front of the bus was full of older folks, people with canes, and a couple of young people with injuries. It was weird, but good.
My seat mate was a little boy who kept kicking his legs up to try to touch the hair of the woman sitting in front of him. He never did manage it. His mom kept giving him stern looks and she kept pushing his legs down, but he didn't care.
Our 22 hit Geary right as a 38L arrived at the stop across the street. It looked like a no-go, but the light changed and the bus was still there, so I ran for it. A woman was asking the driver for directions, or something, so the bus sat there a few minutes and I was able to get in, getting a seat in the last row of the bus next to a heavy-set man who was taking up most of the seat.
The two women sitting in front of me were both talking on their cell phones. I noticed another similarity: they both had flecks of dirt or dandruff in their hair, big flecks, ugh.

Today's commute was exactly the kind of commute you want to have. Quick, quiet buses, a break in the rain while I was waiting outside and friendly faces.
I caught the 22 a few minutes later than usual.
Carmen was sitting in our usual seat, chatting with the guy sitting behind her, the guy who always gets out at Turk. He puts his bike on the bike rack in the front of the bus and he always runs up to the front of the bus before it stops to make sure the driver knows he has to get his bike down. Nice guy.
So Carmen was chatting with bike guy until I showed up. She quickly slid over to make room for me on the seat. We caught up on all of her gossip about her recent vacation, which sounded great. She got out at her usual stop with the Austin coffee mug girl, and they walked together the rest of their way to work.
I got out at my regular stop, waved a 'thanks' to our driver and waited with a couple of other commuters for the light to change.
The coffee shop was busy but not too crowded, and soon I was spit back out on 16th to walk the rest of the way to work.
Three 22 Fillmores passed me by as I walked. I didn't recognize the drivers.

And now onto the contest that I thought we could have in honor of this 500th post.

Tell me in 500 words or less a good Muni story. Stories of heroic drivers, gorgeous crushes, human kindness or something else that will make me smile.

Leave your entry in the comments section. Comments for the contest will close on 4/9/10.

More importantly: What will you win?
Well, I have a couple of prizes in mind. Winners can chose a $5 gift certificate to Toy Boat Dessert Cafe, or a ticket to the Cuban Cowboys show at the Rickshaw Stop on 4/22/10. The Cuban Cowboys are just as great and fun as an ice cream sundae at Toy Boat, so choose wisely.
If you win, be prepared to give me your address to send you your gift certificate, and your email address so I can figure out how to get you your ticket to the show if that is what you chose.

Thanks for reading!

[edited to add: I will keep this post at the top of the page until the contest closes. So read below for more recent Bus Reports. Gracias.]

Contest extended until Friday... Who wants to give sfmike a run for his money?

Monday, April 05, 2010

Bus Report #501

I was on a 22 Fillmore home from work last Thursday. Unlike earlier last week, people were not respecting the elderly and disabled riders. It was actually kind of crazy.
At Bryant, a loud man got on the bus and immediately started yelling for people to move back. a few people did, grudgingly, and a woman in a wheelchair rolled on. The woman was about a hundred years old but was pretty good at driving her chair. Still and all, you can be great at maneuvering your wheelchair and still roll over people's feet.
She accidentally rolled over the toes of one rather angry-looking Eastern European woman, who immediately stood up and started shoving the wheelchair.
"You break my feet!" she yelled at the woman in the chair. "Don't break my feet!"
You should have just MOVED, I thought. And then, don't manhandle this fragile-looking lady. It is not her fault you didn't want to accommodate her. Sigh.
The wheelchair passenger secured her brakes and more people got on, filling the whole front of the bus without even bothering to move back.
There was, as usual, plenty of standing room in the back, but a couple of sewing ladies were standing by the doors blocking the way.
We rode to Mission Street with the bus aisle completely bottle necked.
At Mission, the wheelchair passenger had to get out. Cue the angry passengers, people refusing to move, people shoving in to the back door before people even had a chance to get out.
Yet again, a woman sitting in the front of the bus did not move and the wheelchair almost ran over her legs. The driver yelled at her to move and she cursed him out, shifted her legs an inch and continued to yell.
I don't know what it was, something in the air? It was very strange.

Friday I hopped a 2 Clement to meet some friends downtown.
The bus was pretty empty, just me, a couple of older ladies, a woman with way too much makeup and a middle-aged woman who kept switching seats.

Two college-age guys got on at 6th Ave. and sat in the back. They were talking, not too loudly, and since I had my headphones on I couldn't really make out their conversation.
Suddenly, the middle-aged woman stood up and shrieked, "CUT IT OUT! CUT IT OUT RIGHT NOW! STOP USING THOSE FOUR LETTER WORDS!" and she stormed up to the front of the bus and tried to complain to the driver.
We all stared at her.
A few blocks later, she stood up, stomped to the back door and railed at the boys some more. "IT'S OUR HOLIDAY THIS WEEKEND, HOW DARE YOU TALK LIKE THAT, IT'S A SIN!" she pushed her way out the back door.
As soon as she was gone, the boys started laughing.
I muttered, "freak," and watched her walk off down the street.