Friday, April 26, 2013

Bus report #744

Last night I went to meet the Teacher's Pet and some friends at the Exploratorium, for the Teacher's Pet's birthday.
I took an F Market from downtown, and sat beside the teenage daughter of the Dutch family sitting in the seats nearby.
A few stops before the Ferry Building, an older woman and her daughter got on, and I hopped up to offer the woman my seat.
She laughed and said, "Oh, I can stand. Do you think I can't?"
"No way!" I said. "I'm sure you could stand all the way to the end of the line, but who'd want to?"
She laughed again and sat down.
A seat opened up a couple rows back, and I sat down next to the Dutch family's mom. She smiled.
When the streetcar stopped at the railway museum, the people in front of us got out so the older woman and her daughter moved over to take the empty seat.
The Dutch woman said something about the seats, and moved her hands in a circular motion.
"Yeah," I said, "It's like streetcar musical chairs."
She laughed.
Soon we were at the Exploratorium stop, and a couple kids tried to pry open the doors before we'd pulled in to the stop.
The older woman and her daughter shook their heads. "We're not even at the stop," the older woman said. "That's why they can't get out!"
Finally we arrived at the stop and I disembarked, and crossed the street to the new Exploratorium, on Pier 17.
If my favorite San Francisco-based chocolate factory (TCHO!) had been open, I would have stopped in, but they weren't, so I waited for the birthday party folks and watched the light begin to change over the Embarcadero.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bus Report #743

One morning early last week when I got on the 22, Lacey said, "You haven't seen those two guys that always get on when you do, have you?"
She was talking about the recently-back-from-China construction guy and his friend. I hadn't seen them in a couple of days, so I said, "You know, now that you mention it, I haven't."
Lacey stood up and craned her neck to see if any 38 or 38Ls were arriving. "Hmm," she said, "Let's see if they show up."
The bus idled in the stop, but no one seemed to mind.
A couple people dozed in the seats behind me. The world's oldest school crossing guard, Henry (but since I'd like to give him a bit more respect, let's call him by his last name, Mr. Taylor) smiled at me and waved in slow-mo. I waved back. He's just so sweet.

A 38L pulled in across the street and the construction guy's friend made a run for it and got on the bus.
"Is your friend okay?" Lacey asked him.
The construction guy's friend shrugged and shook his head - he seemed to be saying he didn't know.
Lacey waited another moment, then caught my eye in the mirror.
"Hope he's okay," she said.
I grinned and told her I hoped so, too.

Towards the end of the week we were once again waiting at the stop for the construction workers, only this time the missing half of the pair arrived without his pal.
Lacey smiled at him and said, "Hey, where've you been? I was worried!"
He smiled and nodded his head and said hello, before walking back to join his friend at a seat across from me.
"Morning," I said.
"Morning!" he replied.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Bus Report #742

Saturday I had to go meet some folks in Berkeley so I left my apartment earlier than I had originally planned, because I figured Muni would be a little crazy (it was 4/20, and Earth Day, and I think maybe a Cesar Chavez parade?).
I went out to catch the 38. It was not looking good - about a dozen people already waiting.
NextBus said there was a bus arriving, and there was... But it never stopped. Same for the bus right behind it.
I walked up to the next stop to catch the 38L. There were about 20 people there already, and counting.
Three 38Ls passed by, all destined for the garage. NextBus now predicted 9 minutes and 19 for the 38 and 15 minutes and 16 minutes for the 38L.
Oh, crap.
Five minutes later and there were about 30 people at the stop.
A 28 bus approached the stop on the corner. I decided to take it out to the Sunset and try my luck on the 71 or the N.
The 28 was crowded, too - half with tourists in safari gear clutching maps, half with tie-dyed, spacey, mess-haired kids who seemed incapable of moving into the bus with any sense of urgency.

The 71 bus stop looked as packed as the 38 had been, the N stop a little better.
After another fifteen minutes the N arrived and we all got on.
I got to BART twenty minutes after I was supposed to, and had just missed my East Bay train.

Twenty minutes later, I was finally on my way.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Bus Report #741

Friday night on the way home from work, and everything is cool - my favorite driver is at the helm, my seat mate is a chatty kid fresh from a job fair, and we're not doing too badly. The bus is crowded but not awful.
My sweet seatmate gets out at Church and Market (after jotting down the name of the newest Ben Katchor book, at my recommendation) and I get a new seatmate, a laid-back, maybe a little tipsy guy, who smiles and says hi and then leans back and closes his eyes.

There's something going on with the bus, but no one can tell what. Maybe we're stuck behind something, or the electricity is out for the overhead wires? No idea. And our driver doesn't say anything, just tries to pull forward and around whatever the problem is.

A few people get out, then a few more, until it is down to a handful of us, including my seatmate.
He says, "What's going on?"
And I reply, "Not sure... But I can't walk where I'm going from here, so I'm just gonna trust that this driver will get us going soon."
My seatmate looks skeptical.
"I trust this driver," I tell him. "He's the real deal. I've known him for years."
At this, my seatmate warms up. "Oh yeah? Are you from here?"
"No," I say, "But this guy is cool. Trust me."
We talk. My seatmate wants to run home (somewhere on Turk) before heading to Oakland. He keeps looking at his watch - will he make it? Is it even worth it? And eventually, just as our bus starts to lurch forward another few feet to pick up the waiting passengers, he decides he's got to go straight downtown, no side trips.
I wish him luck and he gets out the bus as the passengers who had gotten out ten minutes earlier stream back on.
We slowly make our way up Church, to Hermann, then on to Fillmore. People who got out earlier keep climbing back on. They greet their friends, we all commiserate, it's like old home week.