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.