Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bus Report #557

Foggy and dark morning commute, foggy and darkish evening commute.
This morning I rode the 22 with the older nurse, the woman who always has to stand right next to me, the big guy, coffee cup girl and Shirley. It was a quiet ride and I got to the coffee shop while it was still dark out. I took my time inside, chatting with the elderly man I've been talking to in the mornings. He mumbled a lot today, but I am pretty sure he was talking about the Giants and their chances for the afternoon game. I smiled at him, said "Go Giants" and told him I hoped he'd have a good day.
"You too, dear," he said as I went outside.

This afternoon I made a mental note to take the 22 home instead of the 10. I usually take the 22, but sometimes the 10 comes first, and I am impatient. The 10 would be painfully slow, I thought, what with people leaving the ballpark after the game.
I checked NextBus before I left work. The 22 was coming in 1 minute, 2 minutes, and 25 minutes. Damn. The 10, on the other hand, would be at the stop in 12 minutes. It looked like I was doomed to take the 10, unless a 22 showed up while I waited.
No such luck, the 10 it was, a nice empty 10. Maybe other people were trying to avoid the ballpark too.
I was surprised to find our commute was actually a little faster than usual. Muni (the 30 Stockton, some of the commuter buses by CalTrain) was a tangle of slow buses but once we got passed the Borders (soon to be former-Borders) it was smooth sailing up to Market.

Giants fans crowded the patios at Paragon and 21st Amendment.
Some Phillies fans waited for sandwiches at the new Grilled Cheese Kitchen.
A man got on the bus wearing a baseball hat in the color and design of the Cuban flag. The had said CUBA in big letters on the back.

At Market I switched to a 38L.
Just a handful of passengers playing musical seats in the back of the bus. I soon found out why. The man sitting behind me was chewing very fruity, very nasty chewing gum. The smell was intense, like strong bubble gum and something sour. Ugh.

A few seats in front of me, two boyfriends fresh from the Giants win (and probably a few too many beers) tried to get comfortable in their plastic seats. One of them had a huge sticker on his back advertising the ballot measure advocating for pot legalization. The other man wore his Giants jersey and sunglasses even though it was already getting dark. They kept slumping against each other, one putting an arm around the other's shoulders, then switching positions a moment later. A younger kid sat next to the man in the Giants shirt. He watched their every move.

A very tall man stood in front of me. When he stood straight, his head grazed the bus ceiling. He slouched and bent his legs so he wouldn't bump the roof whenever the bus lurched around.

Market Street was a sea of orange and black clad Giants supporters, dozens of bicyclists weaving through the traffic, people on their way home from work and shopping. Our bus was full to capacity before we even hit Union Square.
Still and all, I was home at my usual time, no worse for the wear.

I walked up the street past the donut shop.
The Alien Donut Man was in his usual seat in the middle of the shop. He saw me and watched me cross the window. Then he waved, a small, quick gesture. I smiled and waved back. Always glad to see him, always glad to see he's still on this planet.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bus Report #556

I got on a crowded 38 Geary bus last night on my way home. After working my way to the back, I spotted an empty window seat. I smiled at the man in the aisle seat. "May I sit there?" I asked, pointing to the cluster of small plastic bags inhabiting the seat.
The man immediately stood up. He gestured that I should take his seat. I was confused.
"Are you sure?" I asked.
He nodded.
"Thanks," I said, still a little baffled. I pointed at the dim sum. "Anything I should be eating right now?" I joked.
He didn't respond.
So I sat in the aisle seat, the dim sum sat in the window seat, and the man stood next to me, holding on to the pole over his head.
When the bus got to his stop, I carefully handed him his bags and he got out.
I had a sudden craving for dim sum, but I didn't act on it.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Bus Report #555

Last night I walked to the bus with K. after a fun evening of food, wine and good people. We waited for the 5 Fulton on a quiet stretch of the street near the park.
A man joined us at the bus stop just as the bus arrived. He was about 6 feet tall, a little thick around the middle, with short curly black hair. He bore a striking resemblance to a guy M. and I know from the blood center, who always talks about himself in the third person.
He was wearing a jacket with the hood over his face, black rain boots, and thick grey tights. Not athletic spandex pants, just tights.
The three of us got on the empty bus and ended up sitting in three seats right next to each other.
The man said, "It's really cold out there."
"I know," I said. "That's fall in San Francisco for you."
He said, "I don't like wearing boots. They're not too cute, the boys just don't like them."
Okay, I thought. Interesting. He went on. "Really I prefer flats, like with a short heel."
I nodded. He rummaged in his bag and took out a shoe. "I like to wear these," he said.
The shoe was a flat woman's shoe with a pointy toe and some pleats on the top (shirring? Is this the right word?). He was right. It was cute.
"And I'd rather wear cuter tights," he said. "But if they're too shiny, I get a lot of weird looks. Plus, they're harder to find."
"American Apparel has gold lame ones," I said. "You seen those?"
He nodded. "Yeah, those are a little flashy for me, though."
"I don't know much about fashion," I admitted, then pointed to my jacket to illustrate my point.
"I read all the magazines," he said. "I just love them. The shoes are my downfall, though."
I nodded sympathetically. "I bet it's hard to find your size, huh? My feet are wide in the front and I can never find anything."
"Oh, no, I can find my size at Nordstrom's, no problem. It's just the prices! So expensive!"
He told me what tights would look best with a sweater dress, that it takes a lot of work to find a good pair of fishnets. Then he said he actually preferred tights with a diamond pattern to fishnets. I had to agree with him there, since I prefer them, too.
"I just got some 4 inch tall wedge heels," he said, as I got up to go to the door.
"Better you than me," I said. "I could never pull that off."

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Bus Report #554

I ran for the 38 last night, and when I got to the stop, the driver was an old favorite. I can't remember what lines I've seen him on, but I think I've had him on the 22 and the 33, and now the 38. He has a round, friendly face and usually wears a beret that matches his uniform. I got on the bus and he said, "When you see me, there's no need to run, I'll always wait for you!"
I thanked him and admitted I'd been in my own little headphones and sunglasses world, but that I would remember for next time.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Bus Report #553

Yesterday afternoon I schlepped my computer and a stack of books down to Leland Tea to study. When it was time to go, I headed for the 2 Clement bus stop on Sutter and Polk. There were a few people there already: a young woman with earphones, bent over a textbook, a man in a red t-shirt who was playing with some bits of wire or string, and two young twenty-or-thirty-something scruffy-but-handsome guys carrying their guitars and busted-up guitar cases. The one with the piercings strummed a few chords and his friend, who looked a little older and was wearing sunglasses, nodded his head in approval.
I smiled at them. I liked what little of their music they were playing in the bus stop.
The bus arrived a moment later and we all got on, except the man who was playing with the wire or string. He slumped back against the side of the bus shelter and stared off into the distance.
The guitarists sat a few rows ahead of me. They talked and the man with the sunglasses started playing a song on his guitar. I wondered if it was one of their own songs, because it didn't sound familiar, but it sounded good. Folksy, a little bit rock, and I don't know the word for it but he did that thing where you sort of thump the front of the guitar while you play. The man with the piercings started to play his guitar, too. Sunglasses sang a little under his breath.
The girl with the textbook got out on Presidio. Sunglasses watched her leave. He messed up his song. He looked up at Piercings and said, "Aw man, she messed me up." He started the song all over again.
Our bus wasn't crowded but every seat was taken.
I watched and listened to the free concert we were getting. It was nice and mellow. Everyone seemed to be off in their own world, but I knew I wasn't the only person paying attention. An elderly woman sitting across from the guys swayed to the music and nodded her head in approval.
When it was time for her to get off the bus, she clapped her hands and said, "Thank you, very nice, thank you."
The man with the sunglasses grinned and held out his hand. "What, no tip?" he joked.
The man with the piercings pulled the signaler so they could get out at Arguello.
Sunglasses said, "You know, let's go home, smoke a bowl then go get some coffee."
Piercings agreed. At Arguello they wrestled their things down the back stairs.
"Thanks guys, that was nice," I said.
"Hey, you're welcome," said piercings. "See you around."
And they were gone.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Bus Report #552

Thursday evening I caught a crowded 38 Geary bus and sat down next to a mountain of a man, who was reading a self-help book in Spanish. His hands almost completely obscured the title, but it was "something something tu deseas".
Four chatty, older folks sat in front of us. I didn't pay them much attention.
They got off the bus and immediately, an old man sitting across from us got up and started yelling, "Hey! Hey!" to them, and pointing to their seat. The people didn't hear the man, and the driver started to pull out of the stop. The old man was still yelling, so I stood up to look at where they had been sitting. I saw that they had left their groceries on the bus. I knocked on the window to get their attention, while several other people told the driver to stop the bus.
I finally got their attention (acting crazy and banging on windows seemed to do the trick) and one of the men hopped back on board for his groceries.
By now, the old man had sat back down. I said, "That was a close call, huh?"
He nodded.