Friday, March 30, 2012

Bus Report #678

There's a woman I see on the 2 Clement all the time, a neighbor of mine who lives down the block.
She's one of those neighborhood people that I see a lot but don't think about very often. For a long while, I didn't see her or think of her at all.

She used to wear these strange spandexy black pants and black tunic tops, with her long black hair frizzing out from the top of her head. She had an odd gait, slightly bowlegged which was exaggerated by the tight pants. She always seemed in a rush, frazzled.

Now I see her on the bus and she's gotten stranger.

Rain, wind, cold temperatures, and she always wears a long white t-shirt, no jacket or sweater.
Her hair is stuck through with bobby pins and barrettes but they are shades lighter than her dark hair. She carries two well-worn and reused shopping bags from Bloomingdale's. She always sits in the same three seats in the front of the bus.
And she always looks very, very concerned as she gets out of the bus and walks down our block.
As though she thinks I am going to mug her, even though I am usually walking a few paces in front of her.

Sometimes I see her walking down Clement. She walks side to side, almost zig-zagging, and constantly looks behind her. To make sure no one is following her, I guess.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bus Report #677

In Muni's attempt to replace all the old bus shelters with new ones (that barely provide shelter, but that's another post), they've taken out #2 and #3 outbound bus shelter at Sutter and Fillmore and have yet to replace it.

I waited for the 2 one night recently, with no idea when to expect the bus (no shelter = no NextBus, unless I want to call 311 and wait... No smart phone for me).
A woman walked up to the stop, looked around and said, "Hey, wasn't there a bus shelter here two days ago?"
"Yep," I said.
"Do you know when the bus is coming?" she asked me.
I shrugged. "Maybe five minutes?" I said. "It usually comes around now."
"I'll take my chances," she said, and walked off.

Then a couple of tourists walked up. They held a crumpled map and looked lost.
"Can I help you find something?" I asked, pulling off my headphones.
"Can we catch a bus to Presidio here?" the wife asked.
"Yeah, the 2 should get you there," I said.
Her husband nodded. "Oh, good," he said.
"We don't take the bus often," explained the wife. "We're just in town visiting."
I imagined they were from somewhere in the midwest or east coast, judging from their too-light jackets and the man's shorts.
But no- They were from Davis.
"Can I ask you a question?" asked the wife.
I said sure.
"Do you live in a house or an apartment?" she asked.
"An apartment," I said. "But not a flat like those across the street." I gestured to the Victorians across the street, probably subdivided into flats. "My building's more like a concrete box."
She looked surprised. She said, "Just wondering. Are rents really high here? In Davis we can rent a house for less than $1,200.00 a month."
It was a strange conversation, but we chatted a bit longer and then the bus came and we all got on.
I said hello to several regulars and headed to the back of the bus.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bus Report #676

This morning I walked to the bus stop, in the rain. It was dark out. The sky was a matte charcoal grey color, thanks to the time change and the bad weather.
There was a man sitting in the bus shelter. The hood of his sweatshirt pulled all the way over his head. His hands thrust in the pockets.
We didn't talk.
I had headphones on, listened to an old episode of This American Life.
A few minutes later the man got up, smiled at me and said, "I haven't been on this bus before. Does it go downtown?"
He was good looking, tall, with dark hair and with an accent I couldn't place. He wore black glasses with a gold detail at the temples. I wondered why he was up and about so early.
I took off my headphones and said it would take him all the way downtown, no problem.
"Good," he said. Then he shivered, said, "Can I get to Jones?"
I told him to let the driver know where he needed to get out, that they would probably let him know when they got there.

One of the regulars walked up - a woman who usually has too much perfume on, who spends a few minutes every morning cleaning out her purse, pitching tissues and receipts and transfers into the trash next to the stop. Despite the perfume she's really very nice.

"I can't get used to this time change," she said, shaking her head. "And this wind, ugh."
"At least you've got a hat," I said. "My hair has doubled in size since I left the house, and that was maybe five minutes ago."
The man in the sweatshirt laughed. "I had a hat," he said. "But I lost it. That is why I am going downtown."
The woman and I both looked at him.
"I must have left it in the store," he said. "Perhaps when I was looking at things?"
"It's probably in the lost and found," the woman said. "Or behind the counter."

I looked at my watch. It was not even 6:30. What was he going to do, stand outside the store until they opened?

"How can I get to the harbor?" The man asked us.
"The Embarcadero?" Guessed the woman.
"The Bay?" I guessed.
"The Bridge," the man said. "Golden Gate?"

We showed him where to go to catch the 28.
"It'll take you right there," the woman said.

The bus was across the street. We got ready to board.
The woman reached for her wallet but it wasn't in her purse. "I changed bags this morning," she explained. "I must have left my wallet at home."
"Hopefully if it's our guy he'll let you on," I said.
"Let's hope," she said.

The bus pulled up and we got on. The driver, our usual, nodded at the woman and handed her a transfer.
The man in the sweatshirt slumped in to one of the seats in the front of the bus.

I wonder if he got his hat back. What he was going to do at the bridge.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bus Report #675

The 33 Stanyan, last Tuesday -

Two little girls sitting with their mom in the back of the bus. The older girl sat by the window and looked at a book. The younger girl, who was maybe 4 or 5, sat in her mom's lap, repeating over and over, "Mami, tengo hiccup. Tengo hiccup, Mami." She said this upwards of a hundred times, without hiccuping even once.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Bus Report #674

A week's worth of sightings and tidbits -

The floor of the 22 littered with sunflower seeds that crunched beneath my sneakers.

A public service announcement poster I haven't seen in a while, warning about the theft of electronic devices on the bus - "Ladrones, Aprovechen!"

The little guy with the sports jacket, ball cap and tennis shoes - now he's got a pair of faux-Uggs and a ladie's jacket - and I have to say he looks happier, and the clothes really suit him.

The eighties lady - Neon orange and blue parka, her black high top Reeboks, faded old tapered jeans, too much makeup.

Mr. Fantastic - A subdued look for a Monday. Tan trench coat over grey jeans rolled up to mid-calf. Long, pointy wingtips. His trusty neon yellow wristlet, of course, and his Clark Kents. Scorching.

The grinning, lazy-lidded man who sat across from me on the 2 the other night. He reminded me of a classmate, and I realized it was his glasses more than anything else, that felt familiar. The conversation we had, silently, with just our eyes. He was ready to get home, too.

The woman on the crowded 2 Clement the other night, who pointed out the gorgeous sunset just after we'd bitched about the slow commute.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Bus Report #673

Crowded 22 tonight, only open seat was in the back of the bus, next to a man reading the Chron.
He had his paper on the seat and as the bus left my stop and lurched down 16th, I pointed to the seat and asked if I could sit down.
He said nothing, grunted.
So I sat down and he yanked the papers out from under me without a word.
Every time the bus passed a church he crossed himself, but not in that quick way I see people do it most of the time. He held one hand up, crossed himself with the other, then clasped his hands in prayer for a moment.
As we kept driving down Fillmore I began to wonder - would he cross himself as we passed the Church of St. John Coltrane? I can't describe how much I wanted him to do this... I watched him as we got closer and closer to the church, and I was almost giddy.
Then, the moment of truth.
And nothing.
He got out at O'Farrell.

I transferred at Geary and went to wait for the 38. Next Bus said 8 minutes and 9 minutes for the regular, 19 minutes and 24 minutes for the Limited. Another slow night on the 38 line, I thought. Just great.
The 38 showed up 10 minutes later and I got on, stood pressed between a girl with an immobilizer on her leg and a guy with dark shades and a puffy jacket shoved under his arm.
I stood above a seated woman who had a pale orange ladybug crawling on top of her head. I didn't say anything, just watched the ladybug walk around.
Three times the woman ran her hands through her hair and I caught my breath, hoping she hadn't squished the ladybug - I always root for a good ladybug.
The woman, and her stowaway, got out at Arguello.

Two USF students sitting behind me chatted about their blood types and whether or not they were going to give blood. I wanted to give them a thumbs up. But I didn't.

Half a dozen people got out at my stop. I walked down the street with one of my elderly neighbors, a smiley woman with thick glasses who always asks me if I am getting home from work. I say she asks me things, but really she doesn't speak much English so we mostly just mime to each other, and smile.
Tonight I said, "Yep, going to go make dinner, what about you?"
She shook her head and wagged her fingers at me. "I don't," she said, as in, I don't know what you're asking me.
"Dinner?" I said, raising my hand to my mouth.
She smiled and said, "Oh, yes."
I wished her a good night and crossed the street to go home.