Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bus Report #818

Yesterday morning, as seen from (and on) the 22 Fillmore.

Down near Fillmore and Turk, before 7 AM, a man set up a makeshift barbershop - just one stool and one black barber's smock for his customers. There were already two men waiting and one man sitting on the stool getting a trim.

Mister Fantastic got on at Hayes - floral print shirt, Giants cap, camo bag, baggy jeans. His best accessory? His air of confidence.

At Church and Duboce two women who look so much alike they could be sisters got on the bus. I don't think they even know each other, but the resemblance is really something. For a while I thought they were the same person, just with a different hair style every other day, until they both started catching the bus at the same time. One of them, the one who works at Safeway, sat beside me. The other woman, who works for a national car rental chain, sat in front of us.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Bus Report #817

Yesterday afternoon on the 2 Clement, a woman got on carrying a plastic bag full of large goldfish.

Hours later, on a late night 38 Geary, a boy with a Betta fish in a plastic cup got on and sat in front of me.

No fish in sight this morning, just Mister Fantastic in a rust-colored plaid jacket, blue basebal cap and his multi-color hightops.
Green camo bag tucked under his arm.

At Church and Duboce he hopped out and ran, oddly, for the N Judah. He swings his arm when he runs, and kicks his legs out to the side a little.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Bus Report #816

And three days later, Muni returns to work.

I found myself eyeing my drivers this morning with suspicion - I hadn't seen either of them all week.
Were they part of the 'sick out'? Or just driving an earlier or later route?
No way to tell without asking and I didn't want to get into it with either of them.

On the 38, the woman with too much bad perfume sat beside me. I breathed through my mouth and couldn't wait to get off the bus.
Across from us sat a teenage girl dressed all in black, patches sewn all over her sweatshirt and another homemade patch on her hat that read, "Kill the DJ." She wore slip on shoes with heart-shaped holes cut into them, her pink socks peeking out through the holes. The shoes had band names scrawled on them. I didn't know the bands, and can't remember their names now. 
I had to smile because her bag and her sweatshirt also had huge Green Day logos on them. And at least in my estimation, they lost their punk cred years ago. Before the girl was even born. (But I'm a jerk and I was accidentally at their ill-fated concert in Boston back in, what, 1994? So I'm no expert. Just a hater).

Waited at Fillmore with a man who often camps out in the bus stops down on Fillmore and argues with himself. He's been doing this for years and there's obviously something very wrong with him, but sometimes I catch a glimmer of reality in his face when he passes by. Today was not one of those days as he smoked and muttered and twitched.

And what would a normal day on the 22 be without Mister Fantastic? Looking, as always, fantastic.
Leather pork pie hat, jeans, flowy but not shapeless sweatshirt, green camo tote bag with heart-shaped carabiner attached to it, spiffy new-looking kicks and his signature neon yellow wristlet.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Bus Report #815

Last night's commute will hopefully not be repeated tonight, or ever.

I left work and went to wait for the bus, figuring I'd take whichever came first, the 10 or the 22.
There was a guy waiting at the stop, young, probably from the college down the block.
He asked me if I knew when the bus was coming.
"No idea," I said, "they're sort of striking today. They're all 'sick'." and I pretended to cough into my hand.
"Oh yeah, I heard about that," he replied.
We waited together, quietly, and watch a tightrope (or maybe slack rope?) walker across the street in the park. He'd tied his rope between two trees but it was windy out so he had to wait for the rope to stop shaking.
Eventually the rope settled and the man climbed on. He walked a few steps before jumping down to the grass to try again.

A bus came around the corner, the 10, and when it arrived it was pleasantly empty. So far, my ride home was looking good.

We cruised up to Market Street quickly. The only sign that something was not quite right was the lack of 30 Stocktons idling by the 4th Street Safeway. There are usually two or three of them, but there were none at all and a dozen or so annoyed-looking people waiting at the bus stop.

At Market Street I went to wait with at least 40 other people for a 38, 31 or 5 - I wasn't picky.
A 38 arrived but it was already completely packed, no room on the stairs, even. And this was only the fourth stop for the 38.

The 5 Fulton was no better. Sardine packed.

I walked down to Fremont and Market, hoping for some better odds.
There were 30 or 40 people crammed onto the transit island, and no buses in sight.

Think about that, actually - no Muni buses on Market Street, in either direction, for most of the time I was waiting.
No sound of hydraulics or sparks, not even the clang or rattle of the F Market.

The sight of Golden Gate Transit buses and private tech shuttles filled me with envy, I have to say. I thought about trying to convince Golden Gate Transit to take my monthly Muni pass, drop me off somewhere before the bridge.

When the 38 came, after waiting 25 minutes, it was, predictably, jammed.
I managed to get up to the second step. A pregnant woman stood on the step below me. We exchanged exasperated glances and scrabbled to hold on as the bus lurched into traffic.

At the next stop one person tried to get out, eventually managing to squeeze her way through the tangle of angry commuters trying to get on board.

But no one could get on, not a single person.

The driver skipped the next stop but opened the doors at Geary and Kearny, where despite everything, a few people tried to get in. The pregnant woman and I stepped down to let someone out, then stepped back in. As I crowded in beside her, I heard someone outside call out, "Good luck, Rachel!"

I looked up and saw a client of ours from work. I called back, "You, too!" and then the doors closed, opened again, and tried to close again as a stubborn man pretended he was not the reason the doors couldn't close.

A man in a red parka, standing above me, yelled, "You have to get out, there's no room, the doors won't close!"

After another minute of yelling and public shaming, the man admitted defeat, stepped down, and we were off.

It really only got worse.

People kept trying to crowd in. I understand completely, it was that kind of a night, but it just wasn't physically possible.
I was squished as flat as I could get, my bag clutched against my neck to accommodate the man who's sack of crushed soda cans was poking into my back. The pregnant woman had a little space but not much, and as another woman tried to push in against her she said, "You're squishing my baby, can you please, please try not to do that?"
Then she turned to me and asked if I had the time. My arm grasped the pole behind her head and since my other arm was trying to keep hold of my bag, I said, "I can't reach my watch but if you want to pull up my sleeve to check it, go ahead."

So she did.

The ride went on like this for another few blocks. The pregnant woman got out at Van Ness (though she'd wanted Larkin and the bus decided not to stop there, despite her signaling that she wanted the stop) and soon I was able to step up into the bus and get away from the stairs.

It took me an hour and twenty five minutes to get home from downtown, not as bad as some people's commutes but definitely pretty terrible all things considered. Plus (but really, more like a minus), I can honestly say I've never been in such intimate contact with complete strangers as I was last night.

When I heard this morning that the 'sick out' was still going on, I yelled at my radio. Then I got ready to leave for work earlier than usual.

It took an hour an a half to get to work today. 

May your commutes be normal or at least not terrible today, everyone.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Bus Report #814

Because Mondays don't already suck, Muni is doing a sick out today.
KQED and the Chron report between 30% and 50% service reductions, on top of the usual Monday call outs.

Next bus was predicting buses every 15/20 minutes but even that didn't seem right once I got outside and saw how many people were waiting so early in the morning. The traffic guy on the radio called this morning's commute "a complete mess."

I left the house 10 minutes early and walked out to Geary. I waited with twice as many people as usual and when the 38L arrived it was already packed. I managed to grab a seat in the middle.

At 6th and Geary, a man standing outside hollered very, very loudly to his friends who were a block away that they should run for the 44 O'Shaughnessy that was about to leave from the 6th Ave. stop.

A blonde girl balanced two tote bags and a carton of soup, before finally deciding to put the soup down on the floor.I offered to hold it for her, figuring that I was cleaner than the floor of the 38L, but she just shook her head and balanced the container between her feet.

I just checked the SFMTA website and they claim that limited buses are stopping at all stops this morning, but that wasn't my experience (thankfully) and I got down to Fillmore only 10 minutes later than usual.

Still had to wait a while for the 22, with the man who always stands too close to me, who stood just about shoulder to shoulder with me in that big empty stop.

A 38 Geary with my favorite driver sped by. He honked and waved and smiled. I felt relieved he wasn't part of the sick out. 

The 22 pulled up and it seemed more or less fine for a few blocks - until we hit McAllister and people shoved on, and then a few blocks later on Hayes, on Oak, on Haight, people kept pushing in until we were almost full to capacity.
Despite how crowded the bus already was, a family with a huge stroller got on and blocked most of the front of the bus with the open stroller and all their bags.

My seat mate had a huge pink gym bag on her lap and she was pissed to have to share her seat. She kept letting the bag drift over onto my lap.

At 16th and Dolores a twitchy man with a large plastic tub stumbled on board and staggered to the back of the bus.

Another man got on, dragging a large lawnmower behind him.

Mission Street came in to view, at least two dozen people surged toward our bus. I caught sight of a pair of sneakered legs peeking out from the open door of the public toilet. I did not look any closer.

When we finally got to my stop, the men blocking the stepwell didn't want to move. I asked a man in a Hillel sweatshirt to either step down and let us out, or move over. He grudgingly swung his plastic bag of clothes and sticks away from me and moved a half a step out of the way.

Outside, I took a breath and crossed the street.
Good luck today, everyone.