Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bus Report #836

The other afternoon, on the 31 Balboa.

I left work early because my back was killing me, took the 10 downtown and switched to the 31 because it was the first bus that happened along.
All good for the first few blocks – a seat by the window and while it was a full bus it wasn’t packed. People got out, people got on – mostly elderly folks with carts full of food bank stuff.
My seatmate was a tiny old lady with a big cart. She wore a floppy hat and lots of rings.

Several daytime drinkers got on through the back door and sat in the last couple rows of the bus. They carried paper bag-wrapped cans and a couple of them had small nip-size bottles of vodka and gin that they clutched in an attempt to make them invisible.

You know how it is on the 31, don’t you? Some of the city’s worst blocks, all sorts of people, humanity at its worst but you know what, sometimes also at its best.

Younger folks helping the old folks with their carts. A man taking time to hug and say goodbye to his friend, a woman in a terrible wig who had her arms laden with bulging shopping bags. Cute little kids on their way home from their first days of preschool or kindergarten, with new backpacks and sneakers and tightly braided hair.

A girl and her boyfriend and her dog got on – the boyfriend a heavy set, bearded guy in a Giants hat, the dog some flea-bitten little yippy thing, the girl a skinny, sickly looking person with squinty eyes, messy hair and a sour look on her face.

It did not take long for the girl to get into a fight with the backseat daytime drinkers.

We had just pulled in to a stop on Eddy next to a sad-looking playground when I heard a commotion in the back of the bus, and yelling.
The girl was calling someone a bitch, and screaming, and spitting, “Don’t touch my fucking dog.”

I turned around to see the girl standing up, lunging for the daytime drinkers, one of whom was trying, barely succeeding, to restrain his friend, a tall, very angry person of indistinguishable gender but who I am confident would not mind if I referred to her using a female pronoun.

The drunk woman was crying and trying to push past her friend. “I’m gonna mess you up,” she yelled, “Who are you to call me a bitch, bitch?”

I know I wasn’t the only person having these simultaneous thoughts – no way I’m getting out the bus on this block if the cops come and we have to vacate the bus, how long are we going to sit here, what the fuck is wrong with these people and finally, if I have to protect myself from a violent fight, I’ll protect my elderly neighbor, too.

Just then, a big guy who’d been sitting in the front of the bus stood up and said to our driver, “Sister, I’ve got this, let’s keep going cause I know I gotta be somewhere soon.”
The driver stood up and watched to see what was going to happen. We were not going anywhere.

The man made his way to the back of the bus and said, “What’s the problem?”
The drunk woman cried, “This bitch is tryin’ to start something with me and I didn’t even do anything! And it’s my birthday!”
To which the girl, sitting back down now, said, “Bitch was gonna step on my dog.”

Ridiculous, because they’d both been sitting down and the drunk woman was no where near the girl and her dog.

It took a few minutes for the big guy to defuse the situation, which ended with the drunk woman and her friend getting out of the bus, all the while the drunk woman moaning how unfair it was and that it was her birthday.

They got out and the driver started rolling up the street. The girl with the dog wouldn’t shut up, kept going on and on about how she was trying to have a good day and the drunk woman ruined it, and she seemed about to pick a fight with the big guy.
Her boyfriend said, “Today was going just fine until now.”
The big guy said, “Listen, just let it go. It’s over. Forget about it.” He waited a moment and then returned to his seat in the front of the bus.
My seatmate turned to me and squeezed my leg. “That man, he is a good man,” she said. “He did not have to do it, but he did.”
“Yes,” I agreed with her. “He’s a good guy.”
The rest of the ride was spent chatting with my seatmate, or more accurately, bending down to hear her tiny voice and nodding at what she said even if I wasn’t quite sure what she was talking about. She was very sweet and when it was time for her to get out of the bus she carried her cart down the stairs, refusing any help, and she shuffled down Divisadero toward Geary.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a nice story, thank you.

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've gained a new reader. Lovely post.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thanks for reading, guys! I really appreciate it.

10:59 AM  
Blogger John Marcher said...

Great post, Rachel!

7:56 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thanks, John!
Have a good weekend.

11:53 AM  

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