Friday, March 29, 2013

Bus Report #740

This morning it was cool and gorgeously foggy. I walked to the bus stop shrouded in the thick grey stuff, and waited with a few other regulars for the 38.
The ride was uneventful, and when I got to the 22 stop I only waited a couple minutes before it arrived.
The bus was empty - a combo of spring break and Good Friday, and we rolled down Fillmore without making about half the stops.
Not many regulars today, just the mom with the two kids who I've seen on the bus for years, and the Roche Bobois guy.
At my coffee place the barista asked me if I'd had an inspiring day yesterday, and I had to think about it for a moment.
"Yes," I finally answered, "but it took most of the morning and afternoon to  get there."
Later, as I walked to work, I passed by a crushed cassette tape, the brown tape pulled out and strewn across the sidewalk. I thought, how much longer will we see crushed tapes? Because really, I barely ever see crushed CDs and DVDs anymore, either.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bus Report #739

Anyone else annoyed by Muni's so-called 'spring break schedule'?
By all means reduce service in the early afternoons, but why mess with the morning and evening commutes of San Francisco's non-school break population?
Maybe I'm the only person put off by this, but come on... I've still got to get to work at the same time, as do most of my fellow passengers.
So this week so far has meant leaving for work a few minutes early, and in the afternoons catching a slightly later bus that is, by Potrero, packed with people.

This afternoon the bus was slow as molasses. A mom with three little girls got on with several shopping bags and each girl carried her own scooter. The littlest girl didn't want to share a seat with her sisters so she held on to the backs of a couple of seats and swung back and forth as the bus crawled down 16th.

A couple of burnout guys got on at Mission and sat right in front of me. One of them wore a filthy Bruins jersey and the other one had a Red Sox T-shirt. I was embarrassed: they were New Englanders. I slouched in my seat and hoped they didn't notice the Red Sox pin on my jacket.
They talked loudly, banged empty soda bottles against the Plexiglas by the back door.
When we got to their stop they yelled at the driver, "Back door! Back door!" until the rest of us had to yell back, 'JUST STEP DOWN!"
They stepped down and everyone sitting nearby just looked at each other and shook their heads.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bus Report #738

The 38 was early and it spit me out on Fillmore just as a 22 rolled by.
No problem - I walked up a block to Sutter, figuring the wait to be a minute or two shorter from that stop.
I stared up at the tall, heavy-limbed trees that twist up towards the sky and create a canopy over the street. The smell of jasmine wafted over from somewhere nearby and I breathed it in.
The world's oldest school crossing guard slowly approached the bus stop. He saw me and smiled, and said quietly, "Your name is Rachel, right?"
I guessed he'd heard Lacey greeting me on the bus.
"Yes," I said. "Good morning."
He walked over to me and held out his I.D. badge. "I'm Henry," he said, pointing to his name in block letters on the laminated card.
"Nice to meet you, Henry," I said. I wished I knew his last name - he seemed like the kind of person I'd be more formal with.
Soon the 22 came in to view.
Lacey pulled in to the stop and opened the door, and Henry got in first. "Morning Mr. Henry!" Lacey said.
Then she saw me. "What are you doing over here, Rachel?" she asked.
"My bus was early," I said. "Nice to see you this morning."
And off we went.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bus Report #737

This morning I took a later 38 down to City Hall, to take care of some paperwork.
The bus was full of people I didn't know, and it was a little strange.
Walking down Van Ness in the early morning cool sunshine I felt invigorated, despite having to step around what looked like horse droppings (from Saturday's parade, perhaps?).
City Hall's gold dome shined and I didn't mind waiting out front. I felt a sense of pride in my city, the beautiful buildings across the street, home to the ballet and the opera and the symphony (when they're not striking, that is).
Even though my shoes squeaked through the still-quiet halls I felt a comforting silence inside the building. The County Clerk's office was open for business, and I was the only person there not doing marriage-related  things. The couples were all nicely dressed, the women in simple but pretty white dresses (one with a flower in her hair) and the men were in suits.
On my way out I stopped in the middle of the rotunda and looked up, and smiled.
Two guys from the cleaning crew pushed their cart past me and called out a cheerful, "Good morning."

Outside, waiting for the 19 Polk, everything was far from serene.
Hastings students hustled down the sidewalk with their armfuls of textbooks. A tall scarecrow of a man with gold teeth and a fisherman's cap yelled, loudly: "This area ain't safe, I can't be around here!"
A wild-eyed woman chased another woman half-way down the street, then stopped and doubled back.

The bus, when it came, was crowded but I managed to get to the back of it and sit between two silent women on one side, and a coughing girl and a redhead guy with a southern drawl on the other side.
Most of the kids were part of a community service group, I figured out, heading towards the food bank.
They talked about building houses in New Orleans, and other service-related adventures, and they smiled at each other and laughed.

A kid got on at 8th and Market and made his way to the bank of the bus. He parked himself in front of a couple of the girls, held on to the poles, and started to sway back and forth, grazing one of the girl's knees with his thighs. He was strange, twitchy, and I didn't like the way he kept lurching around, staring at everyone. I saw him eye the girl's phone. I saw him run his eyes over me, linger on my necklace, smirk.
I wanted to tell the girl to put away her phone.
Mostly, I wanted to get out of there.
As we headed towards my office he got lurchier, nosier. Stared at the girl on her phone. Closed windows, opened them again. Mumbled to himself.
I stood up and made my way to the back door. As I passed the kid, he leaned back and rubbed his ass against me.
"Fuck off," I said, moving away.
"Bitch," he said, and lightly hit my hand.
I got the hell out of there.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bus Report #736

Waited for the 38 this morning in a thick blanket of fog.
It was just me and the elderly teacher from a Catholic school near downtown, the two of us craning our necks and trying to spot the elusive bus through the fog.
The 38 did not arrive, and did not arrive, and finally, sandwiched between a 38L and another regular, there was our bus, almost 10 minutes later than usual.
When we got down to Fillmore I saw the 22 idling in the stop. The friendly construction worker and I dashed to the corner of the street, hoping to catch Lacey's attention before the light changed.
The construction worker waved at her, two handed, almost flapping his arms as he did so.
Lacey saw us both, smiled and opened the door.
As I got on the bus she said, "What happened? Was your bus late? I got here and was like, where is everyone?"
"Yeah, he never showed up," I said. "Thanks for waiting."
The construction worker tagged his Clipper card and nodded at Lacey, almost bowed to her.
Meanwhile, the world's oldest school crossing guard rested his STOP sign on the floor and raised his hand in a slow-motion wave. I waved back, said good morning to him, loudly, and took my seat.

At Hayes Mr. Fantastic got on. He wasn't dolled up today, and if he hadn't been carrying his trademark neon yellow wristlet I might not have even noticed him. But as he got out the bus at Market Street he managed to still made jeans and a sweatshirt look chic - it's all in his walk; head held high, shoulders back, hips swiveling oh so slightly.

A man on the bus who was most definitely not Jewish or observant still looked as though he had peyos; he had long, lank twists of hair in front of his ears that seemed to almost shoot down from his baseball cap.

I have seen Mr. Polite twice this week: once on Clement Street and once in a dream. Both times, he was walking towards me with his hands shoved in his coat pockets. Both times, he looked up and gave me a sharp nod and a "hello" and then he was gone.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Bus Report #735

I don't think I ever posted this bus report from last month, forgive me...

Early morning bus ride on Lacey's bus - me, some other regulars in the back of the bus, the friendly construction workers, a gaggle of teens, the oldest school crossing guard in the world, and some sleepy preschoolers and their mom.
Our bus makes it to Church and Market, and then, just before the Church Street stop, a J Church train stops in the middle of the intersection and goes out of service.
The driver hustles the passengers out of the train, and then he gets out, too.
Lacey's bus is between the train and the bus stop at Church and 16th, and there are cars behind us.
The J-Church driver thinks Lacey can make the turn, she'll just have to do a three-pointer (of course, no problem, right? Good lord).
He stands between the back of his train and the side of her bus, and directs this maneuver. At one point we are maybe within an inch of hitting the train.
And because there are other vehicles in the intersection, and because there's a curb and a railing at the J-Church stop across the street, it's not going to happen.
Lacey calls out the window, "I don't think I can do this," and the J-Church driver peels off his gloves and says that he can.
A few passengers get out the bus and start walking. Lacey gets out to spot the J-Church driver, and I get out, too, not convinced any of this is a good idea. She and I stand on the sidewalk with another Muni driver, and watch the J-Church driver reverse the bus a few feet, straighten out, and then roll forward a few feet onto Church.
We're going to have to go around the block, I realize, and then flip back around on Dolores.
Lacey and I get back on the bus.
She's her usual cheerful self, tells everyone, "I have to go around the block, but then we'll be back on the route, so hang on guys!"
The bus crawls down Church and turns at 17th. Meanwhile, Lacey's on the phone to dispatch, making sure they know that it was the J-Church that had broken down and caused the whole thing.
We get to Dolores and there are a few people waiting at the bus stop.
Lacey leans out the window and calls for them to meet us in front of the yoga place, because she'll have to reconnect the wires and wait for the pressure to build up again, anyway.
Three minutes later we are back on track.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Bus Report #734

I left work a few minutes later than usual, and as I got to the corner of 17th and Carolina I saw the 22 about to sail past me. No big deal, I would catch the next one.
Instead, the driver slowed down and gestured for me to get on.
I shook my head, "Nah, it's okay, but thanks," and waved him on - I wasn't in a hurry and knew the next bus would be along in a couple minutes, and that the driver would probably be my favorite driver, he of the dark glasses and the cap.
The driver mouthed, "You sure?" and I nodded, and waved, and called back, "thanks!"

Five minutes later another 22 pulled up and sure enough, my be-hatted driver grinned widely as he opened the door. "How are you today, honey?" he asked as I stepped inside.