Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bus Report #873

Another morning with the giant genie and his beard care routine.
He shakes a few drops of his oil onto his comb and quickly combs it into his beard. I can't say if it makes a difference but he seems to swear by it.

Karen, the woman I split a cab with the other day, gets on and we say 'good morning' and wave to each other.

It's sunny this morning but there's still fog and when we turn from Corbett onto Market the city is golden with a dark grey fog ribbon hovering above it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Bus Report #872

This morning, all was well on the 33 Ashbury/18th until we turned from Haight onto Ashbury - where our bus suddenly lost power.
The driver tried to restart the bus a few times but it was useless. At least she'd set the brakes so we didn't roll back down the slight incline into the intersection.
She called Control and, calmly and clearly, told them where we were stuck and what she thought the problem was.
They didn't understand, so she repeated herself three times, until they parroted back to her what she'd said, and then said they'd get right back to her.

She turned around and told us she was sorry but she had no power, and we weren't going anywhere. She said, "I'm really sorry I can't get you guys where you need to go this morning. But the next stop is just up there," and she gestured to the corner of the next street.

An elderly Russian woman frowned and said, "The same thing happened the other day and the driver he fix it."

I asked our driver if a bus would be able to go around her, or if it was an electrical issue.
"Oh, he should be able to get around me," she replied.
I tapped the fare box with my knuckles and wished her good luck.
She chuckled and said, "thanks, I need it."

The 10 or so of us who had been on the bus congregated on the corner. Most of the other riders were doctors, nurses and administrators at SF General, the man who reeks of Axe body spray and a woman I thought was a teacher at a school near the Castro.

One of the other regulars, a man with thick glasses and a pocket size radio he always listens to with the speaker jammed up against his ear, waved goodbye to the Axe body spray guy and walked off up the hill.

A couple minutes later another 33 bus came around the corner. Our savior!

But, no.

The driver cleared the corner and managed to come around the other bus, but then he too stopped and shook his head. No electricity in the over head wires, he said, getting out of the bus to come deliver the news to us.


I could walk to work from the Upper Haight, but I really didn't want to. I've walked from Geary and Fillmore and it is a hike. This would be a mostly downhill journey, but still.

One of the SF General folks looked around and asked if anyone wanted to split a cab to General. The rest of the General folks agreed and they all clustered together to call a ride.

I turned to the young teacher. "Hey," I said, "You get out around Castro, right?"
She nodded. "Yeah, near there."
I asked her if she wanted to split a cab.
She looked at me, as though sizing me up, and agreed.

We walked down the hill to Haight, where I figured we'd have a good chance of getting a cab, or if no cabs were around, we could find a ride share.

Four cabs immediately streamed by. We caught one and headed down Haight to Divisadero.
The teacher's name was Karen. We chatted a little along the way. She likes teaching, and so far the year was going better than she'd thought it would at the start.

She got out at 17th and Church and I rode a bit further, and hopped out 16th and Bryant.

Well, I say hopped, but as uncoordinated as I am sometimes, it was more like a slide, then a stumble, and then a mad grab for the door handle.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bus Report #871

A whole week and a half so far, riding the 33 Ashbury/18th Street (as the 33 Stanyan would now like to be called) with the giant genie.

The giant genie, his chatty and flirty friend, and the giant genie's beard grooming routine. And his eyebrow brushing routine. Good stuff. Beard oil. Dandy comb. Lotion and mustache balm and his black comb that reminds me of the plastic combs my dad always carried around in his pocket when we were all younger.

Much, much better than the man who was flossing his teeth on the 22 Fillmore last night. Ugggh.
The flossing was bad enough but then the man squirted something onto his finger from a tube, and I thought he was going to brush his teeth with his finger. Luckily, he was just applying lotion. Thank you gods of Muni, thank you. Most of the time I feel like it's more of a "are you there gods of Muni, it's me Rachel?" situation.

This morning my commute was made even better (better than the giant genie? But HOW?) by the New Yorker Fiction podcast. I listened to Tobias Wolff reading Denis Johnson. And my day was made.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bus Report #870

Last night on the 22, I sat across the aisle from one of the regulars, the friendly nurse.
My seatmate was a woman in a short jacket and an even shorter skirt, and flip flops. She was cold - I could see the goosebumps all over her bare legs. Not someone used to micro-climates and San Francisco layering practices, I supposed.

The bus filled up at Mission and someone who got on was blaring very loud music, I don't know what the style is called but it sounded like what you'd hear in a Bollywood film. Not bad music, but not something everyone on the bus needed to hear.

The problem was, the music was so loud it was hard to figure out where it was coming from. The friendly nurse and I exchanged annoyed glances. I turned up the volume on my headphones and tried to listen to my own music. Impossible.

I kept looking around for the culprit. Was it the woman playing with her phone two rows ahead of me? Was it her seatmate, with the peacock feather tattoo on the back of her neck? Or was it the woman in blue hot pants and the American flag halter top with the pork pie hat and the granny cart?

Everyone was a suspect.

Finally, at Church and Market, a man from the back of the bus walked forward, slowly, looking at everyone.
He zeroed in on the man sitting in front of me and said, "Would you mind turning it down, I can't hear my own music on my headphones."

The man sitting in front of me, heavy set, baseball-hatted, dusty-jacketed, overall incredibly non-descript, looked at the man who had just asked a very reasonable request. "Fuck you, I can do what I want. Why don't you use your headphones?" he spat.

The polite man said, "I already am," and returned to his seat.

The man sitting in front of me turned off his music to make a phone call. "Hold up," he told the person on the phone. "Lemme put you on speaker."

The friendly nurse and I exchanged disapproving looks and shook our heads. Someone else laughed, then groaned.

The jerk got off at the next stop and everyone, I am sure, was glad to see him go.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Bus Report #869

Last week, on the 19 Polk.
A surprisingly uncrowded bus considering how long I'd waited for it.
Everything seemed fine - until we got to Market Street.

A woman got on, lugging her banged-up granny cart behind her. It was full of stuff wrapped in dingy plastic bags. She was dressed in black from head to toe, including a scarf wrapped around her head. She looked like the old Italian grandmas from old mafia movies.

She dragged her cart to the back of the bus, saw that most of the people were men, and dragged her cart back to the front of the bus. She stood hip against the shoulder of a man in a front facing seat, and he turned to see who was pressed up against him.

She began yelling at him.
He ignored her.

At the next stop, a couple of guys got out and a couple more got on.
One of the men slipped past her to stand where the flip-up seat was out of service for our safety.

She flipped out and began yelling at him, shouting for him to not touch her, to go away, and then she started in on the racial slurs. Just lovely.

The man, to his credit, ignored her, but she kept going, and rolled her cart into the knees of another seated man. He jumped up and began fighting with her.

She kept shouting, he shouted back and jabbed his finger in her face, and the driver did absolutely nothing. No one did anything.

The man stood in the step well so the doors wouldn't even close, and kept yelling for another minute or so, and then he left.
The woman shuffled to the back of the bus again but none of us made room for her.

We eventually went on our way, with the woman continuing her back and forth shuffle for the rest of the ride.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bus Report #868

A cool but sunny morning.

The homeless woman I worry about all the time sat, as usual, on top of her suitcases in front of the produce market. She always looks very put together, and sits rigidly upright, sometimes speaking softly into a cell phone but most of the time just sitting there, her hands folded in her lap, looking like a stately older woman waiting for her train at the train station. I've asked the police to check on her before - and I think I might talk to them about her again. She could be someone's mom or grandma. She belongs indoors, in a cozy room or sitting at the kitchen table. She sits so serenely, often while some of our crazier neighborhood homeless folks scream and lurch down the empty early morning sidewalk. I worry about her. Every day.

I waited for the 33 Stanyan (soon to become the 33-Ashbury) with the man who always reeks of cloying, hideous teenage bodyspray. He had a new haircut this morning, short, almost bald on the sides, with a bit of a bouffant on the top. No words.

We got on the bus, the same bus as every morning, though Mr. Bodyspray always feels the need to flag the bus down (giving me flashbacks of the bus flagger).

In the Haight, the cops were rousting folks who had spent the night sleeping in doorways. The sleepy people packed up their bags, suitcases and bed rolls, leaving the street strewn with paper and bottles and dark trails of unidentified liquids. They shuffled toward the park where they most likely spread their things out again.

At the corner of Haight and Ashbury, in the shadow of Ben & Jerry's and two chain clothing stores, a man squatted beside the sewer grate, his pants down, exposing his pinkish white ass and thighs. He took his time doing... whatever he was doing. Didn't seem to care we could all see him.


Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Bus Report #867

On the 38 Geary last night, headed to the grocery store.

A very tall, very cute boy couple got on the bus and sat down a few rows ahead of me, and spent most of the ride nuzzling each other's necks and cuddling. Cute. Maybe a little overly affectionate for public transit, but nothing out of the ordinary in our fair city.

But you'd think the rest of the passengers had never seen such a thing before.

One girl stood in the front of the bus, staring, her mouth hanging open a bit.

A woman sitting near me kept leaning forward to get a look, then leaning back, and slightly shaking her head.

And no one wanted the empty seat in front of them.

It was odd. They got out the bus by the Russian bakery and I kept going.

Bus Report #866

Last Friday, after a long day all I wanted to do was go home.
The 22 was late, and packed, and it took forever to get to Geary.
I stepped off the bus to see two 38 Geary buses pulling away from the outbound stop.

I crossed the street to wait for the bus, leaned up against the side of the bus shelter and zoned out. That is, zoned out until a family (mom, dad, grandma, granddaughter) came up to me in the stop and asked me if I spoke Spanish. This happens to me a lot, and I don't know if it is because of how I look, or if it's just a gamble on their part. To be fair, I am always accosted by Russian ladies on the bus, in my neighborhood, in the supermarket.
It's a multilingual world and I just live in it.
It's fantastic.

I took off my headphones and said yes, a little, and how could I help them?

They wanted directions to the puente - the Golden Gate Bridge.

"Easy," I told them. "Take the 38 or 38 L to Park Presidio, then transfer to the 28."
Someone had told them to get out at Geary and Fillmore, that this was the best way for them to get to the bridge.
"Well, I guess you could take the 22 to the end of Fillmore and then walk from Crissy Field, but it would take a while," I said. I traced the map with my finger, showed them both routes.

After a little more conversation, my Spanish sloppy and badly accented for most of it, they decided to take a cab.

"Sorry for my bad Spanish! Good luck!" I called after them.
The grandma looked back at me and said, "Actually, you were very good."

"God, thanks, I hope so," I replied.

A man standing a few feet away from me in the stop grinned and came over. "You were fine," he said.

I hope that family got to the bridge okay.