Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bus Report #702

Long ride this afternoon – the earlier bus must have been out of service because the bus was packed. Sunnie sat in the front of the bus next to a trio of blonde middle schoolers who were headed home from an afternoon sketch class at CCA.
I sat in front of a man who was on the phone with his mother. “My niece has an issue with her mother,” he said.
In my mind, I drew a family tree. His niece and her mother. His sister, his mother’s daughter, I guessed.
“And it’s the kind of thing she’s got to address the root problem. No. That’s the truth. Well, It’s something I know about but I’m not going to tell you. But she’s not going to start respecting her mother until they talk about it,” he went on. When he shifted in his seat he smelled beery, sweaty, a little skunky.

Mission Street, and the bus emptied and filled again, as predictable as the tide.
A teenage couple squished together against the side of my seat. The boy was a giant, well, not really, but he seemed built on a larger scale than the rest of us. His enormous hands settled on his girlfriend’s waist.

A woman in the front of the bus started yelling at the other passengers, and at people outside. Nothing she said made any sense. Her voice was guttural, almost frantic at times. Sunnie turned around and caught my eyes. She pursed her lips, shook her head.
The driver didn’t flinch.

At Fillmore I switched to the 38. It was packed. Four kids standing to my right, in front of the door, had a slap fight for the next five minutes. They got out at Baker. An old man shuffled down the aisle and stood next to me, clutching the bar. He walked with a very noticeable limp but no one offered him a seat. I kept my eye on him, in case he lost his footing, and watched the seats around us to see if anyone was going to get up for him. Not a chance.

Back in the neighborhood I walked past a half dozen produce markets on my way home. Plums seem to be on sale this week, the dark purples to the golden yellows. Zucchinis at rock-bottom prices. A display of deep pink dragon fruit, or as I first learned to call them, pitaya.
The woman from our local dim sum joint, headed to the bank. “You just finish work?” she asked me, smiling in recognition.
“Yep,” I said. “You’ve got a couple more hours, huh?”
“Three,” she replied. “See you later.”
Further down the block, the girl at the bakery stopped mopping to wave hello.

Bus Report #701

When I went out to wait for the 22, Sunnie was already in the bus stop. She waved to me as I crossed the street, flagged me down, really, and I waved back, before I even returned to the sidewalk.
“Oh, honey,” she said, as though we were continuing a recently interrupted conversation, “I swear my cousin is driving me crazy.”
I remembered a conversation from a week ago. Sunnie’s cousin’s son was supposed to visit, someone she didn’t know well and didn’t need staying on her foldout sofa.
“What’s he doing?” I asked.
She rolled her eyes. “He won’t go out on his own and keeps calling me at work, which is really disruptive.” She fiddled with the large silver charm on her necklace. “He was also badgering me about not paying attention to him but honey, you know I can’t hear anything without my hearing aids!”
I laughed. “That’s probably a good thing sometimes, huh?”
The bus came and we saw it was our usual driver – a man who always flirted with Sunnie, to the point that if she wasn’t there he would ask me where she was.
We got in and she sat in her usual spot in the back of the bus. I slid in to a window seat next to a woman who spent the whole ride barking into her cell phone in Russian. A steady stream of da, da, nyet, da.

I hopped out at Geary, tossing a wave back at Sunnie as I continued on my way.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bus Report #700

I caught the 22 at Fillmore this morning, as always, and went to sit down.
There was an Xacto knife blade lying on the seat.
I wasn't sure what the protocol was. At work we'd put it in a blade disposal container.
It didn't look too dirty - and no blood or anything - So I quickly flicked it into the crevice between the seat and the wall.
No blood or anything, I thought, that's got to be some sort of Muni catchphrase. Let's put it on a sampler.
At work, I washed my hands several times, with extra hot water.

Bus Report #699

Early morning on the 38. The bus stops at Stanyan and suddenly I hear the driver yelling, "What are you trying to do, kill yourself?"
He's talking to a man who is standing in the step well, trying to get on the bus. The man just looks at the driver, blankly, and holds up his transfer.
But the driver's not done. "You don't walk in front of buses, man, you just don't. I could have hit you just now." He stares at the man, says, "You know what I mean, right? You better not do that again."
The man doesn't answer. He shuffles to the back of the bus and takes a window seat. A moment later, he turns on the small radio he's been holding. Staticky pop music blares out into our quiet bus.
Everyone looks at him.
He leans forward and rests his head on the back of the seat in front of him, the radio in his lap now, and the music still on.

Bus Report #698

Ah, San Francisco.
I get on the 10 Townsend so I can meet friends for dinner last night - giving myself an hour, though it shouldn't take more than 15 minutes to get up to Mission Street.
The ball game's been over for about an hour, but there's something else going on, and traffic is not moving.
My fellow passengers are getting restless- one woman keeps checking her phone, a kid in the back of the bus is singing while his friend curses the bus driver and says, "this is bullshit man, bullshit."
A woman in an awful blonde wig and platform sandals toddles over to the driver and asks, "is it always like this?"
I check my watch. We've been at a standstill for fifteen minutes. There is a very good possibility I am going to be late, instead of my usual chronically early.
If I stay on the 10, I'll never get to my destination tonight.
When the bus finally pulls in to the stop at 4th and Townsend I get out and start walking.
There is a steady flow of people walking down 4th to Cal Train, just a handful of us heading up 4th toward downtown.
The clock is ticking as I cross Bryant, skirting construction beneath the overpass. Folsom. Harrison.
Howard Street, and the Merry-Go-Round.
With five minutes to spare, I hurry down Mission.
By the bus stop at Mission and 5th a woman crouches on the sidewalk and I'm not sure what she's doing, until I see a big, white rat scurry up her arm and into her sleeve. Jesus. She pets the rat. I keep walking. I've got to tell the guys about this, I think.
I get to the restaurant a minute or two late, everything's cool, and soon we're sitting down.
S. says, "I was on my over and I saw this woman down the block, playing with a hamster or a mouse or something."
I look at him and grin. "It was a rat," I say.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bus Report #697

I met S. at Aardvark Books one evening in June before I headed back east for graduation.
He found me in the fiction and poetry aisle, and I'd already picked a book.
"I have to read more poetry," I said, holding out my offering.
After supper, on the bus, I took the book out of my bag and started reading - Martin Espada's The Republic of Poetry. I was unprepared for it, even though I've loved Martin's poetry for years, ever since R. assigned us to read City of Coughing and Dead Radiators in high school.
I sat in a window seat on the 38, reading poems about Chile - picturing Plaza de Armas in the morning, remembering the smell of our temporary neighborhood, hearing echoes of Victor Jara songs in my head - and I was glad I had my sunglasses on so no one could see I was teary.

Bus Report #696

The 22 was late this morning.
Standing on wet pavement on Fillmore, god knows how long, my feet almost growing into the cement.
I was listening to a music podcast and the songs were infectious - like the poorly bandaged thumb of the man sitting across from me on the bus, after it finally arrived.
His hands were bloody and he ate yolk-yellow almond cookies from a pink box, smearing blood on the box, blood seeping into the cookies, crumbs clinging to his Bandaid. I couldn't stop watching.

The woman sitting in front of me smelled like mown grass and wet corn husks and overripe guava.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Back soon...

I've been busy graduating, but will be back on the 22 Fillmore in a couple of days...
Happy Muni-ing in the meantime.