Bus Report #858
Killing time in Alexander Book Company, Bruce Springsteen's "I'm on Fire" came on the radio. I love that song, had just been watching the video this weekend, as research for a short story. Fantastic song.
The Professor and I once saw Rose Polenzani do a cover of it back in Cambridge that took our breath away.
I always look at the books in translation at Alexander. They have a great selection. I was happy to see the paperback of Leonardo Padura's The Man Who Loved Dogs, a book I have at home in the very heavy hard cover edition. It takes up a lot of space but is special - since we met Padura on my recent trip to Havana.
Three tourist kids came into the bookstore and began browsing, but they couldn't find what they were looking for. The man behind the counter asked if he could help them.
In a thick accent the boy in the group asked for 50 Shades of Grey. The man behind the counter passed no judgement. He said, "It's up front, with the best sellers."
When I brought my book (an Elena Ferrante novel that S. has been telling me to read for over a year) to the counter the man looked at me and said, "You have a frequent buyer card? Cause you're here all the time, I recognize you. Which says something."
And he signed me up.
Hours later, I was walking to catch a 38 when a 31 Balboa pulled in to the stop across from Yerba Buena Lane. I hopped on and sat in the back.
My seat mate played with his phone, cradling a chicken Cesar salad from the convenience store in his free hand.
We rode down Turk, the sketchiest blocks of the street actually subdued and deserted, odd.
A trio of skater kids got on, tripped over their skateboards, blocked the stairwell.
A couple in matching navy down jackets almost forgot their stop. They looked sleepy, or stoned, or maybe a little drunk. The man held his wife's hand as the got out of the bus.
A girl stood up too suddenly and fell backwards as the bus stopped short. She fell into the lap of one of the skaters (who had taken an empty seat). She apologized and got out. The skater's friend laughed and high-fived his friend.
On Divisadero, a girl with an unintentional mustache got on the bus and sat across from me. Her phone rang and she answered it, told her friend she couldn't talk long, or loudly, because she was on the bus. She went on to talk loudly, and for the rest of the ride, about her boyfriend who works for Google, about her interviews in Mountain View and how hard it is to get there from here.
I wanted to suggest she consider moving closer to the South Bay, but she would probably have strangled me with her ID badge lanyard.
I got out on a dark corner of Balboa, one of the few street lamps on the block only barely emitting a weak light, and I walked down the street toward home.