Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bus Report #638

The 22 was late tonight, so that our bus filled up before we got to Potrero and another bus was right behind us, empty despite the pleas of some of my fellow passengers for newcomers to wait for it instead.
One woman sat in the back of the bus fanning herself with a magazine. She shook her head each time we stopped, which was other minute, or at least that's how it felt.

I couldn't get out of the bus fast enough when we got to Geary.

In the back of the 38 there was a Russian girl dressed in full Gothic Lolita costume, the frilliest, pinkest, laciest dress I've ever seen on an adult woman.
Next to her, mumbling, was a man with a huge split lip, blood oozing from the very visible slash on his lower lip.
He moved to the row of seats in the back of the bus and I took his seat, first checking for blood before I sat down.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bus Report #637

This morning the 38 was almost empty.
Despite the many available seats, a man who was bleeding from his face sat right next to me.
I am not usually squeamish about blood, but there was something about this man that made me feel sick. He kept a tissue pressed against his cheek, a shaving cut, probably, and every couple of minutes he would take the tissue off and look at it, and then press it to his face again. The tissue was polka-dotted with red and brown spots.

At Fillmore I waited and watched the homeless man who sat in the bus shelter across from me. He is there every morning and many afternoons, safe inside the fort he builds around himself out of cardboard boxes and free weekly papers.
The other day I noticed that the hood of his parka was spray-painted with what looked like some letters. I wondered if he'd been tagged while he slept.

The man with the black glove and the bright white tennis shoes got on at McAllister.
When I got out at Bryant he got out, too, and stood right next to me as we waited for the light to change. I went for coffee and he headed into Safeway, as usual.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bus Report #636

All week the 22 has been a few minutes late in the mornings.
Today when the bus finally arrived I got on and sat in one of the few empty seats, near the back of the bus.
The woman sitting in front of me had all of her stuff on the empty seat beside her. She bit her fingers and her nails the whole ride.
She had a pierced nose and the skin around the nose ring looked red and infected. She smelled like melon-scented bath products and vomit.

A few stops later, a new regular got on the bus. He is a petite man in a black baseball hat, a grey suit jacket, ill-fitting black slacks and bright white tennis shoes. This is his uniform, though he seems to alternate between the grey jacket and a navy one.
He always carries a red plastic bag (with his lunch?) in his left hand, on which he wears a black glove. His right hand is never gloved, just the left.
He seems to travel all the way to Potrero just to use the restroom at the Safeway - at least, I've watched him head that way three times in the past few days - and I wonder what he does the rest of the day. I don't think he works there... Maybe he just likes the facilities?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bus Report #635

Another crowded bus this afternoon.
A wheelchair passenger got on at Potrero - a young man, early 20s, with CP or something similar.
At Mission Street his hat fell off his head and onto the floor. I was in the back of the bus but I watched as he tried to get the attention of the older woman sitting across from him.
He looked at her and then pointed at the hat, then looked at her again.
It took a few minutes for her to understand what he needed.
She asked the girl standing in front of her if she could pick up the man's hat, but the girl just shrugged and looked away.
The older woman sighed and slowly stood up and picked up the hat.
She tried handing it to the man but he couldn't grab it. He pointed to his head.
The older woman settled the cap on his head and sat back down.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bus Report #634

Yesterday afternoon, and the 22 Fillmore was crowded as we slowly made our way up 16th Street.
The bus emptied out at Mission, and I got a new seatmate, a man with several grocery bags and the biggest, thickest gold necklace I've ever seen around his neck.
It looked like a length of rope dipped in gold. I wanted to say, "Wow, that's quite a necklace," or "I like your necklace," or even just, "That's impressive," but I said nothing and just stared out the window.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bus Report #633

This morning my seatmate on the 22 Fillmore was a tired-looking man in dirty jeans and a jacket zipped up to his neck.
He smelled like my brother when he wakes up first thing in the morning - freshly laundered sheets and sleep, and with a warmth radiating out from his body.
He got up after a few stops and transferred to the 21 Hayes.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bus Report #632

Last night the 38 was crowded but I got a seat in the back, by a window.
Downtown was alive even though it was late, and there were people everywhere. When we pulled in to the Powell Street stop there were at least thirty people trying to get on our bus. I don't know how many made it, but people were sardine packed against each other.
The girl sitting in front of me looked like she had just come from the early 90s. She had long hair swept over her shoulder and a soft-looking, worn out flannel shirt that was too big for her, so that she seemed to swim in it. Her look was completed by several ropes of tiny seed beads around her neck, the beads a red color that brought out the stripes of red and pink in her blue/gray/red/pink flannel.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Bus Report #631

This morning, as seen on 16th Street and Bryant: a cracked burned-at-home DVD with the words Big Booty Moms written on it in permanent marker.

At the coffee shop, James waved to me and tried to give me money for my coffee.
"That's very sweet," I said, "But you really don't have to."
"I-I-I want to," he said, and he pressed a five dollar bill into my hand and wouldn't let me say no.
I got my coffee and brought him his change. I thanked him but he still wasn't having any of it.
We talked about baseball - The Giants, of course, his favorite team, and we talked about the foggy weather.
"Thanks again," I said, "But I should go."
"All right, you have a good day," James said. He tilted his face up towards the light. When he does that, he reminds me of my grandfather.
I told him I'd see him tomorrow.
I walked past the garage and down towards work.
I heard a 22 Fillmore bus pulling in to the stop under the overpass and I looked up to see my favorite driver grinning at me and waving as he opened the front door.
I stopped to say hi, as I often do, and he beckoned for me to get on the bus. "Come on," he said. "Get in here. I miss you."
I got in, figuring we'd chat for a second and then I'd continue on my way, but instead he closed the door and took off down the street.
"I guess I'm getting a ride today, huh?" I said.
He laughed. "Looks like it," he said.
I asked him if he was doing anything fun this summer and he said he was getting more involved with his church. They'd asked him to do some things for them - it sounded like he might be preaching or helping out with church services.
"Problem is, I just need to get more confident," he said. "That's what's blocking me right now."
I shook my head. "I don't think you have any problem with confidence," I told him.
He's the driver that makes friends with all the regulars. He sweet talks the old ladies, shakes everyone's hands. His smile is high wattage, and he flashes it all the time. Confidence? He's got it.
I said, "see you later," when we got to my stop.
And I walked up the hill feeling happy, serene, and looking forward to today.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Bus Report #630

Rode downtown to run some errands the other day. Only empty seat was next to a youngish kid, maybe a college freshman-going-on-sophomore? He stared at me blankly when I asked to sit down. He did not move his stuff, so I had to climb over him.
His friends sat across the way and they spent the whole ride talking about exactly the kind of stuff you'd expect: Anti-materialism (even as they wore sweatshirts with the logo of a California-based chain on them), cigarettes/cigarette ads as phallic symbols, and wacky roommate situations.
I half-expected to hear some of my own college topics of conversation, or the words hegemony, proletariat, or critical social theory.
I caught the tail end of their discussion about fake breasts, and how they felt to the touch.
I looked at the kid sitting next to me and thought, you talk a good game, kid, but I don't believe you.
When I had to get out, I climbed over him again.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Bus Report #629

Wednesday evening I waited for the 22 at my usual stop, a few minutes later than usual.
I saw the bus coming around the corner, and at the same time a big delivery truck double parked on the corner across the street.
It was inevitable that the bus poles came down as the bus tried to get around the truck. There was just no clearance for the bus, no way the poles could stretch that far.
So the driver idled the bus in the middle of 16th Street and, shaking her head, stepped down from the bus.
She got the poles back up in just a couple of minutes.
When she was finally able to pull the bus into our stop, she said, "Sorry about that, I almost made it."
I said, "You fixed that pretty quickly. I was impressed."
"Thanks," she said. Then, shaking her head again, "Double parkers."
I sat a few rows from the back door, in an aisle seat.
The driver was great - she greeted people as they got on, called the old folks 'honey' and 'sweetheart', and most impressively, she called out each stop and each transfer point, and where each bus at the transfer point was going.
"16th and Potrero," she said. "Transfer to the 22 going towards 3rd and 20th, the 33 Stanyan to Children's Hospital, the 33 Stanyan to Potrero, the 9 San Bruno and the 9 Limited."
She did this even though most people didn't seem to pay her any attention.
A man sitting near the front of the bus kept smiling when she reeled off the different destinations.
I couldn't help it, I smiled, too.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Bus Report #628

I waited for the bus tonight, after meeting up with D. to write in a cafe way out on Geary.
I didn't get enough work done, but that's okay. I'll take what I can get this week.

At the bus stop there was a boy with a guitar. He played a song and sang, too. He wasn't bad.
He had curly dark hair and a tie-dyed T-shirt. The typical San Francisco summer visitor.
He wasn't the only person at the bus stop with a guitar: Standing a few feet away was a twenty-something man with a mohawk, his hands shoved into his pockets, and a guitar in a soft case, strapped to his back.
When the curly-haired boy finished his song, the mohawk guy said, "That was pretty good, man," and they shook hands.
"You going to a gig?" the boy asked him.
"Nah. Actually going to record, lay down some tracks."
"Cool," said the boy. "I'm going to an open mike? Down at Ireland's?"
The bus pulled up and I waited for them to get in.
They were still talking about playing, so they told me I should get in ahead of them.
The driver leaned out the bus and said, "You guys want to get in, already, talk inside?"
They ended up sitting near me, talking about the open mikes around town.
The boy was in town just for the summer: staying with an uncle in the Outer Richmond, but flying home next week. "My Ma will meet me at the airport," he told the man with the mohawk.

I got out at my stop and walked home.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Bus Report #627

The beautiful part of this afternoon's commute:

A man with a star-shaped tattoo by his eye, sitting in the bus stop at 16th and Mission, playing a maroon accordion.
"I don't make fun of anybody," he said, in answer to a couple of kids who had just accused him of disrespect.
The music seemed mournful, slightly-Tango inflected. Slow.
I tried to catch his eye, to thank him, but his gaze was fixed somewhere across the street.

Bus Report #626

This morning I got down to Fillmore just in time to see the 22 fly through the light and head up the street. Ah well, I thought, we're starting off the week just right, aren't we?
I waited for the bus at the Sutter Street stop, happy for the change of scenery, the lack of people sleeping in the bus shelter, and the strange comfort of the canopy of tree branches above me.
Ten minutes later a 22 came barreling down Fillmore. I smiled. I knew that break-neck driving - it was my favorite 22 driver, he of the dark glasses and the leather cap.
He pulled up in front of me and I got in.
"Good morning, honey," he said, as he reached for my hand. I grinned and shook his hand, and told him I was glad to see him.
I sat in an aisle seat near the back of the bus.

The ride was uneventful and I spent most of it zoning out, staring out the window.
We stopped at Mission Street and the bus filled up.
The Roche Bobois guy sat next to me, nodding his head in acknowledgment.

This afternoon I walked down to the bus stop with T.
We had both lost track of time at work until suddenly it was past time for her to leave, and just in time for me to split for the night.
We rode the 22 together until Potrero, where she hopped out to catch the 9 San Bruno.
The bus grew crowded, so much so that our driver came on the PA system and said, "I'm so sorry folks, but as you might be able to tell the bus is full, so if you are trying to get on, I hate to tell you, you need to wait for the next coach."
It was very polite of him, and he made that announcement at least six more times during the ride.
As we sailed past Harrison Street, he said, "All you folks waiting outside, I'm so sorry, but we're full."
I thought, I wouldn't mind waiting if every driver who passed me by could make a similar announcement.
A woman with tattoos up and down her exposed spine kept standing up to throw things out the window.
A little boy sitting in front of me played with a toy car, and everyone sitting near him kept smiling and telling his mom how cute he was.

I got out at Geary and crossed the street to the stop by the Boom Boom Room.
A sardine-packed 38L came by, but I waited for the much emptier regular right behind it.
My seat mate read the Examiner, and as he finished each section he threw it under the seat.