Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bus Report #766

I had a few different transit options to go meet The Teacher’s Pet down on Fillmore on Saturday. I opted for the 2 Clement – a slow bus for sure, but if I timed it right, it would be fine.
I went to wait for the bus a couple minutes before it was due to arrive. A trio of men puffing on cigarettes walked up and sat down in the bus stop. Thanks, guys. Luckily the bus arrived a moment later and I got on. I sat by the window and settled back for the ride.

A couple of stops later, a woman got on with a fluffy, yippy dog in a blue and white sweater. The dog was all over the place but the woman didn’t do anything about it at first. She sat down across the aisle from me and scooped the dog up and onto the seat beside her, where it continued to jump around a bit, and yip at the woman sitting behind it.
It wasn’t cute.
When they got out the bus the dog sniffed my leg. I did not kick it, even though I really, really wanted to in that moment.

The bus flew down to Fillmore. I got out and walked down the street towards The Grove.
I was about to cross the street when I saw the 22 Fillmore bus roll up parallel to where I was waiting. I looked over and spotted The Teacher’s Pet, sitting in the window. I grinned, waved. She did the same.
The bus was stopped at the light, too. I pumped my arms trying to gesture something along the lines of, “let’s race!” and she nodded.
The light changed and I jogged across the street to the bus stop, catching up with The Teacher’s Pet just as she got off the bus.
I think it was a tie.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bus Report #765

Another Tuesday, another 19 Polk. I left work a few minutes earlier than usual when I saw Nextbus predicting the 19 Polk in 5 minutes and 25 minutes. The 5 minute bus never showed up, so I stood in the only shady spot on the hill, peering out from my spot every now and again to see if the bus was coming. The first half-dozen times, it wasn’t.

When it finally arrived it was, predictably, crowded. I sat in the back next to a teenage boy who seemed put out by the fact that he had to move his backpack off a vacant seat for me. I turned up the volume on my music and settled in for the duration.

The bus was slow until we hit 7th Street. It flew down 7th, even though we had to stop to unload a wheelchair passenger, load another, and then stop to let on a couple of ladies with their granny carts.

I checked the time – not terrible, not late yet  - and watched the goings on at Civic Center Plaza. At least 40 people lined up for free food at a tent set off from the sidewalk. The usual fountain bathers and campers a few feet away. Several cops milling about.

Around the corner, at the intersection near Larkin, there was street work going on – repaving, or something, all the way down the block past the Asian Art Museum. Our bus waited for the construction guys to signal us to turn. Just before we could turn, a bedraggled older woman with several tote bags stepped into the street and began ranting, loudly, at the bus, the construction guys, the fresh new asphalt.

I thought I muttered, “oh lord,” to myself, but the two guys sitting beside me and in front of me laughed and turned to look at the ranting woman.

Eventually we got through the light and down the street.

A group of pale t-shirt-and-shorts-clad tourists stared at the Muni map in the bus shelter. One man traced a Muni route with his finger.  You should probably wash that now, I thought.  

New Chinese restaurant further on down the street. Or else, just a bright new awning. Boys in baseball caps smoking out front the bar that used to be the Deco Lounge.

Finally, finally, It’s A Grind. I called a “thanks!” to the driver and stepped down from the bus, and hurried into the cool, dark café.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bus Report #764

Another morning with Mr. Taylor, aka the world’s oldest school crossing guard. I ran for the bus and caught it just as the light changed. Still catching my breath I said, “Good morning,” to him and went to sit down. A moment later, the construction guys got on, and the man who I can never understand smiled at Mr. Taylor and said, “hello good morning,” to him.
“Good morning to you, too,” Mr. Taylor replied. His voice is deep with age. A little… Oaky, if that makes any sense.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bus Report #763

School has officially started in San Francisco. How do I know? Easy. Mr. Taylor, the world’s oldest school crossing guard, is back on duty.

He’s got his neon yellow uniform, and his STOP sign, and his travel mug of coffee. I wonder if he makes it at home or goes out. I should ask him. I wouldn’t mind adding him to the Christmas coffee card list.

I saw him on the bus this morning. He greeted me with a, “Hello, good morning, Rachel!”
I said good morning as sweetly as I can at 6:45 AM – He’s worth it. We shook hands and caught up for a minute, I went to sit down. I won’t lie; it was a relief to see him, to know he’s still with us in the world.
When the bus pulled in to his stop, he stood up and waved, smiling broadly. I waved, smiled back at him.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bus Report #762

This morning the (new) 22 Fillmore driver saw me approaching the stop, smirked, and kept going. I think she wanted to see me run after the bus - something I usually don't do - but with the Muni summer schedule I knew that I would be standing around for a while if I didn't. So I ran and caught the bus at the next stop, and was the last person on.


The 80's woman got on, and the nurse she usually talks to.

Cue the arrival of Mr. Fantastic, a new baseball cap on his flattop-bouffant, his neon yellow wristlet, and a sweatshirt patterned with multicolor triangles.

At Guerrero a woman got on and wrestled her suitcase to the front of the bus. She sat down and set a full bowl of ramen noodles in broth next to her on the seat.
She took a pack of tortillas from her suitcase and rested one of them on her lap while she opened another package, a squeezy tube of what had to be refried beans. She squeezed some beans onto the tortilla and then proceeded to smear the beans all over the face of the tortilla with her fingers. Do I even need to bother to tell you it was disgusting to watch?
The last straw was what she did next: she scooped a handful of dripping ramen noodles out of the bowl and into the tortilla, her hand trailing oily soup broth onto the seat, her lap, and her shirt.
She rolled the whole thing up, and ate it with gusto, licking her fingers and her palms afterwards, in an attempt, I assume, to tidy up.

She got out at 16th and Mission, leaving a soup-splattered seat in her wake.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Bus Report #761

A most pleasant ride on the 19 Polk Tuesday night, though I thought it would be bad, since the buses were running (it seemed) very sporadically. In fact, when I left the office, NextBus said 7 minutes and 47 minutes. I was not looking forward to riding an overcrowded 19 Polk. It is, not to be overly dramatic (but being that way anyway!), a kind of hell.
I got on by the brewery and started walking to the back of the bus, when I saw a familiar, smiling face sitting a few steps away from me. It was A., who I haven’t seen in a while but who I have been trying to catch up with lately. Excellent.
I slid in to the seat beside her and we spent the duration of her ride chatting and joking around. I always like running in to people on Muni and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone else on the 19 Polk who I’ve been glad to see.
We discussed summer plans (not many), news (not much), and joked about a recent shark week movie, which led us to coming up with a new shark disaster movie idea that we think would look great as a Claymation.
A. disembarked at Market and I moved over to a window seat. The ride was surprisingly quick, devoid of the usual drama. I saw a couple regulars: the elderly woman who always slumps in her seat, napping, until we get to California Street. The heavyset, greasy man with the overstuffed backpack. 
A group of tourist kids consulted a map by the library.
A woman wore an outfit that made her look exactly like Waldo of Where’s Waldo? fame. Her glasses looked fake but the rest of the outfit was believable.
A few blocks away, a man standing on the sidewalk chatting with his buddy wore a T-shirt that said, “I [Heart] Hot Moms.”
At Polk and Sutter, a petite girl squatted in the doorway of a shoe store and play-wrestled with a beige French Bulldog.

The bus fast approached my stop and I reluctantly paused the Offramp podcast I was listening to. I’d get back to it a few hours later, on the ride home from It’s A Grind.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Bus Report #760

This morning my 22 Fillmore was early. I rode in early morning silence with a few regulars, including the 80’s lady (red ski parka, beige mini-skirt, chunky heels) and Mr. Fantastic (new flat-top-yet-bouffant hair cut, neon yellow wristlet, plum and maroon running shoes).
The Mission looked quiet, even 16th Street plaza felt subdued.
My café was empty when I got there. As I walked down the block afterwards, another early morning regular, a cabbie, stepped from his taxi and grinned and waved.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Bus Report #759

Monday morning, sleepy. I had a moment of panic in the shower, thinking I had accidentally woken up an hour early. After that, I was wide awake and made it out to the bus stop with time to spare. I put on the newest Radiolab podcast; the Blood episode.
Blood doesn’t bother me, but when the episode started talking about how much donated blood costs, I felt angry thinking about all my past donations and how expensive the transfusions of my blood must have been, that my free donations weren’t so free to the people who needed them. I stalked up the hill to work, a little heartbroken, mostly annoyed.

After work I crammed on to a packed 38L, tried to get past the people hugging the stairwell and move to the back. Just a few steps from where they were huddling, there was an empty seat next to a sleeping man who bobbed awake as we drove up the hill by Kaiser.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Bus Report #758

I took Muni to BART on Sunday, heading to Oakland to catch a ride up to Sacramento with a friend of R.’s.
On the 38 I sat next to a woman who spent the ride chatting on her cellphone. She had the same name as my mother, and I wondered if they spelled it the same way.
At Fillmore, a kid sitting nearby caught sight of one of the lifelike statues currently scattered around the neighborhood.
“Whoa, I thought that was real,” he said.
I laughed and said I’d had a similar reaction when I first saw it. “There are a few more around the corner, in the plaza,” I said.
“I’ll have to check them out when I come back,” he said.
The older man sitting across from us took off his headphones. “There are a couple more further down Fillmore,” he said.

I jogged down the stairs into the BART station and waited on the virtually empty platform for my train.
Eventually my train arrived, one of the newer BART trains with the plastic seats instead of fabric upholstery. I settled into my seat, a forward-facing seat with a man in the rear-facing seat across from me.
He wore a T-shirt emblazoned with musical notes, musical note dangly earrings, and silver rings on each finger. He had a handlebar mustache that looked like an afterthought compared to the rest of his music-themed outfit. He spent the ride working on a crossword puzzle.

That night when I made my way home, several people walked up to me on the MacArthur BART platform and asked me for directions. I stood there, holding my shallow box of fresh figs and said, “Sorry, I don’t know where you need to be, maybe check downstairs?”
I must have looked approachable – that woman won’t harm you, her hands are full, she looks tired. Or something.
Back in San Francisco I chose the right exit at Montgomery, the exit that spits you out on the corner of Montgomery and Market. This is the exit I always want, but it is rarely the exit I get.
As I got to the top of the stairs I heard the sound of bus brakes and I dashed around the corner and on to a 38, just before the doors closed.
Sitting across from me was a heavily tattooed boy – arm sleeves, tattoos peeking out from the collar of his shirt. One of them was a map of Hawaii, the islands scattered across the side of his neck, from ear to chin. Another speedy ride to my destination. I made it home from Oakland in a little less than 45 minutes.