Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bus Report #695

Some mornings.

I know I've said it before, but it bears repeating - whenever I start falling out of love with this city, San Francisco wraps me in its comforting fog, shows me its friendly face, then slaps me with a crisp and bracing early morning sunrise. In a good way.

I waited for the 38 at my usual stop, with the now-chatty woman who lives in the large apartment building down the block. She was dressed for summer weather even though it was still in the 50s when we met at the bus stop.
She had a long shimmery blue skirt and white sandals - optimistic and wide awake at 6:30 am.
"Are you dressed for the weather?" she asked me, laughing, because we have this conversation almost every morning.
"I am, though you can't tell," I said - my T-shirt was covered up by my sweater and my jacket.
"Today's going to be great," she said.

Then, the Sunset Scavenger truck stopped to pick up the trash. The driver, Derrick, a man I've seen most mornings for the past few years, stopped to tell me he wouldn't be working for the next week, because he'd be in Hawaii.
"Awesome," I said. "Take pictures. Have a great time."

The bus pulled up - our favorite 38 driver opened the door and smiled. "Good morning," he said.

Down on Fillmore I waited for the 22 with one of the regulars - the nicest of the construction workers. He kept walking out into the street and looking for the bus, then coming back to give me updates that consisted of shoulder shrugs and awkward nods of the head.

Our bus came, the usual early morning driver, her brown-to-blonde hair touched up and expertly set.
We cruised down Fillmore until she needed to turn on McAllister for the detour.

It was sunny and cool out, and I kept catching glimpses of things I never noticed before.

An overly deco-ed  Victorian on McAllister.
The gorgeous grillwork on the front of the abandoned theater next to the Independent.
The rainbow lights above Twin Peaks on Castro at Market.
A pack of tennis players doing stretches before playing, in Dolores Park.
The fried eggs mural off of Mission.
Another mural, a block away, a large black and white painting of a man hugging his knees.

The bus turned back onto 16th and a dozen people got on - and I noticed that SFMTA had, sometime during the last day, plastered the corner with bright orange signs that marked the temporary stop for the 22.

A man got on and sat next to me. He took a pencil from his shirt pocket and spent the rest of the ride working on a Sudoku puzzle.

And I don't know - some combination of everything that morning, and the music I was listening to*, and the light, I couldn't help but smile. When I got out at my stop, I thought about dancing my way to the coffee shop, but that would have been too much.

*(The new La Vida Boheme album, Nuestra.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bus Report #694

Yesterday afternoon I walked down the hill to catch the 22. It was not looking good - there were a handful of regulars and a few other people I recognized from around the neighborhood, way more people than usual.
Coupled with the reroutes and the track replacements, I had a feeling I'd be waiting a while for the 22. I planned to take the 10 when it showed up, but it never did.
The friendly Texan waved from where she stood in the shade, talking to one of the quiet ladies who usually gets out at Mission.
After a while, the friendly Texan walked over. "Honey," she said, putting on her sunglasses, "The bus better come soon because I have to be somewhere."
We chatted a bit, pausing every now and then so I could squint up and down 16th looking for a bus and so she could pull up Next Bus on her phone.
One by one, the other people waiting drifted off. The quiet lady said, "Well, I guess I'll start walking."
A girl carrying a stroller said, "Typical," and she walked off, too.
One man bent down to tie his shoe, then he headed off up the street, glancing behind him as he went, just in case.
The friendly Texan said, "Next cab that comes by is mine. Do you want a ride? We'll drop you off."
"Oh, thanks, but you don't have to," I said.
She just flipped her hand and said, "Don't be silly," and that was that.
Soon, a National Taxi pulled up and the friendly Texan said, "Let's go."
We got in the cab. The driver asked where she was going, and she told him the cross streets of where she lived, in Pacific Heights, close to Union Street.
He looked at me. "And where are you going?" he asked.
"She'll jump out wherever it's convenient," said the friendly Texan.
Then she turned to me and said, "What's your name? I never remember to ask people their names."
I told her, and then she introduced herself, and handed me her card. Let's call her Sunnie - it matches her personality.
I wondered what the cabbie made of us - a pair of strangers, situational/occasional friends, two women who didn't know each other's names. 
We talked some more - she told me a story about one of the guys who was also waiting for the bus, but I don't remember what it was. As the cab approached its destination I told Sunnie I'd hop out on California.
The cab pulled over and I got out.
"Thank you!" I called after her. "See you tomorrow!"

Thanks, Sunnie, for sharing your cab with me.

I caught the 1 California and was home a half hour later.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bus Report #693

This morning I dreaded taking the 22, routed around the track replacements down on Church and Market.
I left home early and made sure I had extra time if I needed it.

When the bus arrived I got on and sat in the middle of the bus, headphones on.
When the bus was idled at the light at McAllister the driver said, "Listen up, folks, we've got a detour this week, if you want to take the shuttle you can get out here."
Cue the confused people who didn't know anything about it. One guy, a regular, asked the driver how he could get to the Market Street Safeway. "You can get our at Haight and walk," said  the driver.

The bus turned up McAllister and then onto Divis - for a few blocks we followed the 24 route and confused a few people waiting for the 24.
Divisadero was quiet, most of the shops still closed up.
Castro, too, once we crossed Market.

The bus turned down 18th and we followed the 33 for a few blocks, until turning left on Mission and resuming our regular route.

I have to say, it was relaxing, and quiet, and if it can be as fast as it was today, I won't mind a week of this.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bus Report #692

Last week I waited for the 22 at Fillmore and saw the flier guy walking down the street, posting his fliers as he walked. I tried not to stare as he tore off a couple of stubs from the bottom of each flier and then taped the fliers to nearby poles.
He has a pattern - he tears off the second two stubs on the left hand side, on all his fliers.
He hung up two 'watery lotion test' fliers, and then a new one:

Makeup powder SPF 13+ test

This one was looking for Asian women, who were supposed to call and say they'd been referred by "DB".

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bus Report #691

This morning the flier guy was on the bus again. I watched him to see what he'd do, and just as I was about to give up (ten minutes into the ride and no fliers, just talking to himself), he took a flier out of his bag and taped it up to the Plexiglas partition next to him.
He kept staring at the flier, and smiling.
What a bizarre compulsion.

Today's flier read:

And then it had the dates of the test here, all spelled out - May 17, 2012 to May 25, 2012
And then it said who the 'tester' was looking for - Women
And then, their age range - 40 -50 years old
And then on the bottom, as always, his tear off stubs. I couldn't see if they had a phone number on them this time, or just more text.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Bus Report #690

This morning on the 22:

A man got on and sat in the front of the bus. He took a flier out of his bag and tore the section at the bottom where you'd tear off the phone number. Then he got out a roll of tape and put tape on the top of the flier.
He put the flier down on the seat next to him and for the rest of his ride he flipped through a uniform catalog.
When it was time for him to leave, he taped the flier up against the window of the back door.

It read something along the lines of:

(then some gibberish)
then the tabs where normally there would be a phone number, except it said:

I've seen this guy before - he always makes different signs and posts them in the bus.
Anyone else had the pleasure of his fliers before?

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Bus Report #689

A post I have forgotten to write up for two weeks -

The 22 Fillmore slid past Yoshi's, and I caught a poster in the window advertising a Cuban jazz group. It barely registered with me, other than putting me in mind of an old album I'd bought in college - Cuban but not jazz - Mucho Macho Machito and his Afro-Cuban Salseros.

Ten minutes later I waited on Sutter for the 2 Clement, which was running late.

A group of about ten guys, walking in two smaller groups of 5 each, came down the street.
Some carried musical instruments in black cases - some trumpets, or saxophones, maybe a bass, a guitar.
The guys were all dressed up in black dress pants and black shirts, not matching each other exactly, but definitely prepared to perform together, or something.
They looked sharp.
They laughed and joked as they walked, mostly in English but I caught some Spanish - and my Cuban-accent radar went off.
They were a great looking group.
I watched them cross the street, heading towards Geary, and then it hit me - they were probably the band performing at Yoshi's that night!
I never got confirmation, didn't need to, but man, we need more of that - well-dressed, good-looking men with musical instruments? Yes, please.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Bus Report #688

I'm used to seeing regulars from my commute off the bus - we'll be in a bar, or a shop, walking down the street, and I'll think, how do I know you? There is usually a quick nod of acknowledgement, maybe a smile.
Or sometimes more - a full-fledged conversation - like meeting British Look Guy at Bottom of the Hill a few years ago. Or walking down Divisadero with The Handsome South Asian Chef.

I was in the hardware store the other day, when I saw a familiar face I haven't seen in a while; Mr. Polite.
He was in a rush (isn't he always?), and as he hurried by he saw me, stopped, turned around and said, "Hello there, it's nice to see you."
I smiled. Said, "Yeah, it's been a while, you, too."
And then he was gone, a blur of fleece jacket and tortoiseshell glasses.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Bus Report #687

On the way home the other night, a little later than usual.
I was half a block away from the donut shop and as I always do, I slowed down and tried to peer in through the windows, just in case.
In case the alien donut man was there.

For the first time in a long time, almost two months, I think, he was there.

Sitting at his usual table, his coffee, his donut, his parka, his orthopedic shoes.

He chewed a mouthful of donut but nodded at me slowly, anyway.

I nodded back.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Bus Report #686

I thought Muni would be a chaotic mess last night, thanks to the May Day melee (too much?) going on in our fair city.

Instead, by the time I got out of work and walked down the hill, it seemed back to normal, on time.

I slid in to an empty seat in the back of the 22 and a few stops later I got a seatmate, a tall, hefty guy with his long black hair in a pony tail. He wore black jeans and a black shirt streaked with grey and white. His face, arms and neck were bright red beneath his beard and thick arm hair, and he was breathing pretty hard - his mouth open. I thought he might have just run for the bus, or had spent the day outside.

He kept running his hands over his face and neck. I couldn't stop watching him.

Everything about him was red, or black, and he smelled like sawdust and sweat, and something dull and metallic. There was something repulsively pleasing about his scent - The words 'plumb' and 'tang' floated around in my mind.

I gulped it in.