Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bus Report #540

Thursday afternoon I walked down the hill to catch the 22 Fillmore.
As I was getting on the bus, I noticed someone running to catch it. It was Julie.
We sat in the back of the bus and caught up on things.
Let's just say Julie's got a lot of cool stuff coming up, so stay tuned.

As the bus turned onto Hermann, I saw two fare inspectors ticketing a man who looked like he was about to cry. The inspectors were my friends from a few weeks ago. I smiled at them, but they didn't see me.

A man got on at Haight and walked towards the back of the bus. His friend was sitting across the aisle from me.
"Hey Frank," said the man sitting across from me.
"Hey Jack, man, how's it going?" said the newcomer, sitting down next to me. He smelled like cigarettes and sunscreen.
The two guys worked together, and at first I couldn't tell if they were talking about a halfway house, a rock club, or a bar. Jack said something about how hot it got in the kitchen, so I assumed they worked together in a restaurant.
Frank was taking classes at City College. He didn't like his journalism class because so far they'd just watched movies and hadn't done anything yet. He liked his Spanish class a little more, but wished they met more than once a week.

I got out at Fillmore and Geary and soon caught a 38L towards home.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bus Report #539

Wednesday morning a man got on the 38 and sat down in the front of the bus. He was wearing a BAR HARBOR sweatshirt, and I smiled, thinking of some of my favorite Maine memories and the taste of Jordan's blueberry muffins on a cold winter morning.
He also had a purple tote bag with a large white pony doll with a long, flowing, silver mane.

We got to Fillmore just as the 22 was pulling away from the stop, so I walked slowly up to the Sutter Street stop and waited for the bus there.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bus Report #538

Hot as hell edition!

Well, today's commute was a scorcher, but I don't have to tell any of you that!
I knew we were in for something big when the woman who always has to stand right next to me sat down in the empty seat next to me. I noticed that she was wearing a light sweatshirt instead of her usual winter coat with the fur trim on the hood. I wasn't wearing my usual jacket either, just a thin cotton jacket the Professor gave me a few years ago.
She and I were both ready for a hot day.
By the time our bus got to Mission, the sun was already looming above us, blazing.
At my usual stop, I waited until Michele, Shirley, the big guy with the friendly attitude and the guy with the huge headphones got out.
I stepped down from our bus and went straight to get some coffee.
Walking the rest of the way to work the temperature seemed to rise and the sun got even brighter. I had to shield my eyes and squint through my sunglasses to make sure the person standing across the street waving at me was actually someone I knew. It was M., and we walked the rest of the way to work together.

This afternoon I left the office right on time to catch the first of 3 projected 22 Fillmores (NextBus had them arriving in 15 minutes, 15 minutes and 17 minutes). A diesel bus pulled up and I got on. The bus was hot and humid, even with all the windows open.
I asked a woman if I could sit where her bag was. She didn't love the idea, but grudgingly moved her bag so I could sit down. Of course, she didn't move her body an inch, so she ended up getting my bag and my ass in her face.

The bus was phenomenally hot and disgusting. Everyone seemed to be just as worn out and tired as I felt.
I amused myself by checking out the San Francisco summer weather attire people were wearing. Lots of pale, exposed skin, lots of too-small tank tops, boys with their shirts off, sunburns.
My seatmate got out at Potrero and a new woman sat next to me. She was trying to get to Fillmore.
"Where on Fillmore," I asked her, trying to be helpful.
"Oh, just Fillmore, where it turns," she replied. "Or Geary, whichever comes first."
"You've got a way to go," I told her.
I don't know how anyone made it the whole length of our commutes today. I know I felt disgusting, totally drenched in sweat, and filthy. The 22 was like a sauna, without the freshness or the perceived health benefit.
At Geary my seatmate and I got out. I managed a quick sprint across the street, and caught a 38. The bus wasn't very crowded, but almost all the seats were taken.
A couple of teenage girls were sitting in a three-seat bench, and I asked if I could sit in their empty seat.
They ignored me, so I asked again.
The girl sitting closest to me sighed, sucked her teeth and moved her hand so I could sit.
The seat was a little wet (sweat? water? other?) so I sat perched on the edge.
At Presidio, the girls saw a pair of fare inspectors outside. One of them decided to make a run for it. Bad idea.
She got busted by the inspectors, who asked for her transfer, and then when she said she lost it, her ID.
A man standing in the stairwell watched the fare inspectors and the girl. When the bus lurched into traffic, he stumbled a little, then regained his balance.

The pet store across from the Brazilian block of Geary* at Collins looks to be going out of business. Too bad. I wonder if they'll still take my store credit for $1.75?
As we passed the Brazilian clothing store with all the bright bikinis, sarongs and flip-flops, I had a quick vision of everyone in the neighborhood rushing the place to outfit themselves for this week's heatwave.

*I call the Brazilian cafe and the store next door Little Brazil, but I don't think anyone else does.

Bus Report #537

Yesterday morning the 22 was late.
I waited with the annoying construction workers, who for once were actually slightly friendly.
"The bus," one of them said. "It is coming."
I smiled at him. "Great," I said.
The bus stopped right in front of me and I climbed on. It wasn't our usual driver, Nelson, but another driver who I know tends to drive a later bus.
The only open seat was next to Michele, aka the makeup slatherer.
"Good morning," she said.
"Morning," I said.
"How was your weekend?" she asked, before telling me all about hers. "Mine was pretty great. I was up in Marin with a gentleman I've been dating."
"Sounds lovely," I said.
"Oh it was, it was," she said.
We made small talk the rest of the ride. Nothing major: she talked about how she wondered where Nelson was, how she had been waiting at the bus stop for fifteen minutes and wasn't that strange?
She went on to tell me she likes to get her coffee, then take some time before work to apply her makeup. I had to stifle a grin at that one. I guess she decided it was too much to keep doing it on the bus.
Another regular got on at Hayes. "Shirley! Good morning!" Michele said, loudly, reaching in front of me so she could pluck at Shirley's sleeve. "Feeling better, Shirley?" she asked.
Shirley nodded and sat down.
A few stops before our stop, Michele indicated that she wanted to get up. She likes to stand in the step well so she can be the first person out the door.
Who was I to stand (well, sit) in her way? I got up, she went to stand by the door, and that was that.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bus Report #536

My 44 O'Shaughnessy out to the Sunset Farmer's Market this morning was pleasantly empty but smelled unpleasantly like urine.
I coughed and looked around to see if I could figure out where the stench was coming from. The woman sitting in front of me said, "So it's not just me, then? You can smell it too?"
"Oh yes," I told her. "It is not just you."

I got out at 9th and Irving, quickly replaced the piss smell with the delicious scent of coffee from the Beanery.

Later, I was on the N Judah with the Teacher's Pet.
At Cole and Carl she suddenly elbowed me and hissed, "look at that scary clown!"
Magic words! Outside the window there was a creepy looking man in full clown makeup, including a hat with a golf motif. He seemed even creepier because he was sort of skulking past the storefronts opposite our N Judah car. We sat there, slightly terrified, until the N was in motion again.

We cruised through the Rock Make festival, then had lunch at Coffeebar. We walked out to 16th to catch the 33 Stanyan. The bus was only going to Haight, but that was okay. Usually there's another bus right behind it. It was a nice day, so even if it took a few minutes for the next bus to show up, it wouldn't be a problem.
The Teacher's Pet took a 71, and I waited for the 33. Our driver had said it would be along in 5 minutes. NextBus said it would be 36 minutes and 39 minutes, but that just seemed weird to me, so I waited.
Time passed. Another person in the stop checked the schedule on her Igadget. "It says five minutes," she said.
So we waited. And waited. And waited some more.
The woman shook her head and hailed a cab.
I kept looking at NextBus. It still said impossible things.
I called 311 and the operator told me there was a bus right around the corner.
There was, but unfortunately it was the wrong corner. She had given me the info for the bus coming in the opposite direction.
Finally, a bus came in to view.
It was only going to Haight and Stanyan.
"I've been waiting forty minutes," I told the driver. "Do you have any idea what's going on?"
He didn't.
I called 311 again and explained the story. The operator said, "They shouldn't be turning around at Haight, let me get a supervisor."
She was gone a few minutes, then came back. "My supervisor says that there's a bus about ten minutes out."
"Are you sure?" I asked.
"Yes," she said. "If it is going out of service like the last two buses, please call us back to report it."
I hoped I wouldn't have to do that.
The bus came fifteen minutes later. Luckily, it was going my way.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thanks, Tenderblog!

The Tenderblog threw quite a bash last night.
Thanks for inviting all of us down to the Loin, and thanks to Edinburgh Castle for my delicious fish and chips and beer.
It was grand to see/meet everyone.
If you aren't reading the Tenderblog already, I heartily endorse it.

The Teacher's Pet and I caught a 38 Geary a few minutes after getting to the stop at Geary and Larkin. Standing next to us was a boy with several neck tattoos.
It felt oddly appropriate that one of them said 'Sucka Free'.
The Teacher's Pet got out at Fillmore and I continued riding up to the Richmond.
No other story there, just a smooth ride home after a fun-filled night.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bus Report #535

Overheard on the 22 tonight:

"Hey, is this Creed, or Wham?" - man to teenagers listening to some unidentifiable R&B on a tinny cell phone.

After I got off the 22, a packed, slow moving vehicle (three wheelchair stops, several old folks with walkers and granny carts, people with bikes having trouble loading them onto the front of the bus, and the rest of the usual rush hour torture) I crossed the street and waited by myself in the bus stop on Sutter.
The 2 was supposedly on its way. Cool.
A man came up and sat down in the bus stop. He drank some soda then unwrapped a burrito and dug in.
Then, he started taking bits of chewed burrito out of his mouth and throwing them on the ground, for the pigeons.
Well, the birds swarmed him, waiting for more food, and he obliged.
He threw more chewed food, and bits of foil on the ground.
I don't like pigeons any more than I like rats, so I did my best shooing them away, but it didn't work.
I was annoyed and disgusted. Especially since, I mean, I'd been there first and this guy was acting like the bus shelter was his own private lunchroom for him and his feathered friends. As if no one else mattered. Nice.
Soon there was a sizable flock in the bus shelter. I moved so that I was standing mostly out of the shelter, but still able to see the NextBus console.
The man finished his burrito and threw the rest of it onto the ground for the pigeons. He threw down his napkins, too (and I know he could see the trash can next to the stop!).
Then, he lit a cigarette.
The bus pulled up and the driver opened the door, startling the pigeons who started flying, most of them flying above my head as they tried to escape the shelter.
"Ew, ew, ew," I said, doing a pretty good The Birds impression.
I hurried on to the bus.
As I walked back to get a seat, I brushed at my hair and back, hoping I didn't have any pigeon feathers or anything else on me.
(I managed to escape pigeon dander free, yay!)

Bus Report #534

This morning I got down to Fillmore early, but even after ten minutes there still weren't any buses. Strange.
One of the regulars hailed a cab.
Finally, a bus rolled in to view, but it was a diesel bus, with 'POLICE SERVICE' scrolling across the marquee. Again, how strange.
This driver gestured for us to all get on, told us he was a 22 Fillmore.
Great. So we all got on, and I got a window seat near the back door.
Nothing of any note to report, until we got to Haight and everyone started to get out.
I took off my headphones. He wasn't really telling anyone what was happening, so I went up to the front of the door.
"This is my last stop," he said. "Wires aren't working around Sutter so there should be something soon, but I have to turn around."
Well, thanks, dude. You should have mentioned you were only going to Haight! I would have waited for a real bus. Sigh.
I started walking, figuring I'd have enough time to walk the rest of the way to Potrero Hill if I needed to.
I was almost to Guerrero when I saw a bus coming. I waited for it, figured if it was too packed I'd just keep walking, no problem.
The bus was crowded but I managed to get a seat in the back.
All the usual regulars were there: Michele, the woman who stands too close to me at the bus stop, the annoying construction workers.
I got out at my usual stop to get coffee. I was about 15 minutes behind my usual schedule, which was okay but not ideal. In the coffee shop, Michele came up to me and said, "That was crazy this morning. What happened?"
I told her what the driver had told me.
"But I didn't even see our usual driver, Nelson," she said. "I don't know what that was about."
I didn't either. I said I hoped tomorrow would be better, and then I walked the rest of the way to work.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Bus Report #533

Saturday night Sam (who will be posting reviews of the hotel bars we went to) and I headed downtown for an evening of drinking in hotel lobbies. Trust me, it was both more and less glamorous than you can imagine.
We caught a mostly empty 38 at 6th Ave. and settled in to seats towards the back.
At 3rd Ave., a pair of fare inspectors got on and made their way through the bus, checking people's Fast Passes, Clipper cards and transfers.
A woman sitting two rows ahead of us did not have any proof of payment. The female fare inspector sat down nearby and told her to go ahead and keep looking for her transfer, and if she couldn't find it she would get a ticket. It was sweet of her to give the woman a chance. Also, these inspectors were polite and friendly. We liked them immediately.
The male fare inspector moved to the back of the bus, where he kept an eye on the back door.
We watched the inspectors, watched the fare evader woman rifle through her bags over and over again.
At Fillmore the female inspector started to write up the woman's ticket. She explained how the woman could appeal the ticket if she found her transfer. The woman had some questions, all of which were answered by the inspector.
We got to talking with her. She was very chatty and gave us some tips on how to make sure we don't get busted for fare evasion.
Tip 1- Always keep your receipt from purchase of a Fast Pass or Clipper refill. In a pinch, the receipt is good proof that you did indeed pay for your pass.
Tip 2- If your Clipper card gets lost or stolen, report it immediately and have it canceled, otherwise someone else can use the Fast Pass or funds on the card.
Her tips were good, common sense really, but I appreciated them anyway.
Our bus approached the Van Ness stop.
A man was standing next to a tree, facing us.
"Is he peeing?" asked the female fare inspector.
He was, of course. Standing next to a spindly tree, a few feet from an idling cab, this guy was taking his sweet time. And we all were treated (punished?) with a full frontal view.
"This is like the third time this week I've seen guys doing that in public," I told Sam.
The female inspector started laughing, and pointing, and even rapped on the window.
"We can see you," she said. Then she shrieked. "He has a ring on it! Oh my gawd, he has a ring on it!"
This I did not see, but I am sure she was right. She kept laughing and pointing, and just generally cracking up. We were, too.
Too damn funny.
Everyone within earshot/eyeshot stared at the man and laughed.
The male inspector came over. "What do you think?" he asked his partner. "Should we ticket him?" he joked. He doubled over laughing. "We should ticket him," he repeated. "Because I don't think he has a transfer!"
"My partner thinks he's funny," the female inspector told us.
We thought so, too. Thought they were both pretty funny.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Bus Report #532

Another morning waiting for the 22 with the older nurse.
"You remember that driver who never used to let us get on?" she asked me.
"Of course," I said. "I see him all the time now driving other routes and he always waves and smiles at me."
"Me, too!" she said. "That's what I was gonna tell you. I've seen him several times. Can you believe that? After he was so awful all the time?"
"I know, it's crazy," I said. "Now he's so friendly, I don't know why he was always such a jerk."
"I'd be right here," she said, gesturing to a spot a few feet away. "And he'd just shake his head and drive off!"
"Yeah. And I always refused to run to catch the bus at the next stop," I told her. "Didn't want to give him the satisfaction."
She smiled and swatted me on the arm. It was a friendly gesture.
We waited a few more minutes and our bus came. We got on. Nodded hello to the makeup slatherer and a couple other regulars.

I sat in a window seat, next to a man who was really put out because I asked him to move his backpack.
Across from me sat the man with the dirty lavender crushed faux leather hat. The hat is looking pretty bad these days.

The makeup slatherer got up and stood by the front door. I could see she had an ID badge clipped to her shirt. So from now on, let's call her Michele.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Bus Report #531

This morning I waited at the 22 stop with the woman who always needs to stand right next to me and with the older nurse.
"Payday," the older nurse said, shaking her head as she looked at her watch. "It's ridiculous."
I nodded in agreement. "It's crazy," I said. "And I heard that the drivers are set to get raises."
"Well, come November we'll get a say on some things," she said.
It's true, and very important.I hear that this November we'll have the opportunity to vote on overturning Muni's insane rule about needing to be the second-highest paid operators in the country.
If you haven't registered to vote, maybe this will be the push you need.

The bus came and we got on. The makeup slatherer greeted me and the older nurse with a cheery "Good morning!". We each responded with an equally cheery greeting.

As our bus passed by the Fillmore and Oak stop, I saw a grey cat hanging out in front of someone's garage. I hoped it wasn't lost.

I got out at my usual stop. A homeless man was packing up his sleeping bag and his other stuff. He wore a decent suit and I wondered if he was on his way to a job.