Monday, January 23, 2012

Bus Report #667

This morning I waited for the 22 down on Fillmore, in the dark and in the rain, alone.
I stood all the way back between the benches - mostly so I'd stay dry and also because I've noticed if I stand under the overhang but don't back up, people walk by and pretend not to see me there, and they either walk right in to me, or they give me dirty looks and try to get me to move out of the way. Strange, but it happens all the time so I guess it's the thing to do.

Several people walked by on their way to the 38.
Then the street was quiet again, no cars and no people. For a moment I wondered if it was Sunday and I'd gotten up early by accident.

A man approached from around the corner and walked straight towards me.
He wore cowboy boots, madras shorts, a leather jacket, NASA baseball cap and a red knit cap on top of it. His face was square and his eyes were narrowed into almost invisible slits. His mustache was thick and black and needed a trim. He clutched a crumpled lottery ticket in his hands and fidgeted with it, all the while staring at me and trying to catch my eye.

There was something about him that unnerved me. I hoped he'd keep walking.

The man stood right in front of me at the curb and at first, because it was still so dark out, I did not notice that he was still staring at me.
It was as though he was issuing a silent challenge for me to acknowledge him.
Honestly, if he hadn't seemed so creepy, I would have wished him a good morning, or something, but the way he stared, the way his face was set, I was actually frightened.

And I've waited in worse places at worst times, and never felt that way before.

The bus should have arrived already but it didn't. The man kept staring.

Finally, though I hated to give in, I moved over a few feet to the left.
The second I'd vacated my spot, he was there, tucked between the benches, playing with his lottery ticket.

The bus did arrive then, zooming right up in front of me, and it was my favorite morning driver, sunglasses and beret and white white teeth, good morning darling it's nice to see you, and we were off.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bus Report #666

Last night's rain made the evening commute on the 22 a soggy, slow ride.

Has anyone else noticed that there are no bus shelters (inbound) from Connecticut and 17th all the way to Potrero and 16th?

I stood by the door of Thee Parkside and waited for the bus.
It pulled up just as the friendly woman was crossing the street, so I asked the driver to wait a moment for her to catch up.
I sat down beside a girl who looked like a young Janeane Garofalo.
She took in my wet coat, my wet bag, and shrunk away from me against the window.

I listened to a Planet Money podcast about lard... and felt a little sick.
At Geary I switched to the 38 - and found Carmen waiting on the curb for me.
"Hello!" she said. "Are you taking this bus?"
"Sure," I said.
We got on through the back of the bus and she pointed to an empty seat. "Do you want this?" she asked.
"You take it," I told her. "I've been sitting all day."
"Well, I was standing all day," she said. "So okay."
She sat and I stood next to her, and we chatted a bit. Her daughter is in Spain right now, so I dug my iPod out of my bag and pulled up the photos from my trip.
Carmen put on her glasses and flipped through the photos.
"It's so nice to see you having fun," she said.
I laughed, and thanked her.
I almost missed my bus stop, we were having such a nice visit with each other.
I squeezed her shoulder and shoved the iPod in my pocket, and took off, calling a "see you tomorrow!" back at her as I left.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bus Report #665

This morning my 22 driver was a driver I haven't seen in about a month.
He opened the door and smiled and I smiled back.
"It's nice to see you," I said. "Where have you been?"
"I had pneumonia," he said.
"Are you feeling better?" I asked.
"About 58%," he replied.

Later, walking past the garage, Frank waved me over.
"Hey, where you been lately?" he asked.
"I was in Boston," I told him.
"I was just thinking, 'I haven't seen Rachel lately'," he said. "Glad you're still around."
"Thanks," I said. "You have a good holiday break?" I asked.
"Yep," he said. "And I got a New Year's Resolution."
"Oh yeah?" I asked.
"I'm joining a gym," he said, thumping his belly with his hand.
"That's great," I told him.
"See you tomorrow," he said.
"Definitely," I said.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bus Report #664

This week's commute, so far...

2 sightings of the man who always sits next to me, who stinks of rose-scented cologne - he sat next to me on Monday, walked to the back of the bus on Tuesday.

3 sightings of the little guy with the suit jacket and the baseball cap - he sat next to me on Tuesday, in front of me this morning.

1 sighting of my favorite 22 Fillmore driver - he slowed the bus near the garage this morning, honked and then waved at me, flashing his beautiful bright smile as the bus kept going.

1 sighting of the friendly woman who is always on my 2 Clement - we chatted about our holiday trips (she went scuba diving in Cabo) - and for once I made sure to speak loudly and clearly, because she can't hear me unless she is looking at me straight on.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bus Report #663

Last night I rode the 38 from Fillmore up to Masonic.

The bus was not crowded but there weren't any free seats, so I stood near the accordion fold, in front of an older woman who kept staring at me as though I was about to steal her purse, or hit her with my tote bag.

There were a few kids in the back door stairwell. They played with their phones and slurped tapioca drinks.

I don't know why I watched the kids - nothing else to occupy myself with, I guess.

Most of them got out at Scott, then a couple at Divisadero.

The bus stopped at Baker and the doors opened with their usual hydraulic whoosh.

Two kids got out, and then the last kid lunged at the woman sitting across from the door, and he ripped the iPhone out of her hands.

She pulled away from him, and shouted something, and then I was at the door too, yelling, "HEY, HEY, HEY!" as loudly as I could, grabbing for the boy, grabbing for the bright white phone, the headphones, whatever I could get a hold of.

We scrabbled for the phone and got it back. The kid took off down the street, his hood covering his face, no chance to identify him if it ever came to that.

The bus driver didn't pay any attention. She shut the doors and we were on our way.

The woman sat back down and wound her headphones around her phone before shoving it into her bag.

"Thanks," she said.

No one else said a thing, and no one moved.