Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Bus Report #877

Well, really more of a bus driver report...

I went to lunch in Potrero Hill with my coworkers today, and as we were finishing our food a familiar figure walked in to the restaurant.

It was my favorite driver, he of the dark glasses, lovely white-teeth smile, and his ever-present cap.

I slid off my stool and walked over, said, "Driver!" because though I think I know his name, I just wasn't sure.

My coworker, who also loves this driver (though it took us a while to realize we had the same favorite), joined me and we chatted with our favorite bus pilot for a few minutes. He hugged us and we told him we missed seeing him, and he told us he missed us too and that he was now driving at a different time of day, and had started driving an additional route as well.

It was great to see him.

See you soon, we told him.

And he smiled that friendly smile and went to order his lunch.

Bus Report #876

Saturday evening I headed to Cole Valley via the Inner Sunset, for a birthday party.

It was the kind of overcast and cold day that made me feel slow and a bit useless. I walked down to 6th Ave. to catch the 44. The bus arrived and I got on, sitting in the back.

We cruised down the street and through the park. No one waiting at any of the park stops.

I hopped out on 9th and Irving and transferred to the N Judah. I sat near the window so I could see where I was - I never remember my friend's cross-streets though I've been to their place many times.

A man sat across from me, staring out the window with unfocused eyes. He wore a hairnet - no, not a hairnet - it was a red mesh plastic bag that once held a few pounds of onions. Okay. Other than the plastic mesh hat and a dirt-streaked sweatshirt he seemed fairly normal. Maybe a bit out of it, but not completely in his own world.

A kid sat next to him, the kid's girlfriend a few feet away on the other side of the door. The kid and his girlfriend texted each other instead of talking across the aisle.

The man with the onion sack on his head turned his attention to the kid. He pointed to the phone.
"You texting?" he asked.
The kid nodded.
"You texting about me?"
The kid blushed, of course he was texting about the onion sack man, but he held his phone screen-in against his thigh and shook his head. "Just about a movie we're going to see," he said.

Three boys in skinny jeans and loafers got on, settled a few rows back. A man with curly hair and a big skateboard reminisced about the old days with his seatmate. His skateboard slid back and forth across the floor as the N Judah rolled down Irving.

I wasn't sure where my stop was so I pulled the signal cord and got out with a few blocks to go.

I almost walked past my friend's place but then I saw the open windows of their apartment, a handful of people sitting at the table. The room looked warm and inviting and I crossed the street, waving at the birthday girl before I had even reached the sidewalk.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bus Report #875

Friday before Memorial Day and I was a few minutes later than usual to catch the bus home after a long day.

Which of course meant that when the 22 Fillmore eventually arrived it was already packed and the only available seat was in the back of the bus, a front facing seat, across from a couple of guys nodding off in their seats, and a woman having a loud cell phone conversation.

The bus grew more and more crowded.

The nodding off guys tumbled out of the bus at Mission and 16th, were replaced by a tourist couple armed with camera and map. The wife studied the map, then closed it, then opened it again at each stop along 16th Street.

Later, by the Market Street Safeway, a couple of shaky, sunburned guys got on and made their way to the back of the bus. One of them was skinny and silent and he slumped into a window seat.

His friend, stockier, redder, twitchy, carried a large white bucket - the kind catering mustard or peanut butter comes in. The bucket was full of packs of ribs and a few cans of Coke - and I was almost certain everything had just been stolen from Safeway.

As soon as he was sitting down, the red man held up a packet of ribs and tried to sell it to the kid sitting across from him. The kid, like the rest of us, had no use for ribs of unknown provenance.

The man's voice did not match his appearance at all; it was as high pitched as the cartoon characters Alvin and the Chipmunks. The same effect you get from nitrous, right? But no sign of spent balloons or nitrous cartridges in sight.

He spent the rest of the ride trying to sell the ribs, the Cokes.

The tourist couple kept looking over at him, then looking away as soon as he offered them his products.

I got out at Geary and transferred to a 38R - and was soon on my way to a long weekend away from work, away from itinerant rib sellers.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Bus Report #874

This morning I waited over 45 minutes for the 33 Stanyan.

Yes, I could have taken the 38 to the 22, or taken a cab, but NextBus kept promising the bus was on its way, and I can't afford to take a cab every time Muni fails. Because that would be a lot of money.

So I waited. Waited with the guy who wears too much Axe body spray, waited with the mousy woman who always stands in the Ballet School doorway with her coat and hood gathered around her.

Waited while more and more people walked, ran, biked and drove by.

Waited while the sun grew brighter, so that I had to put on my sunglasses.

Listened to an entire episode of the Scott Free Podcast.

And then, yes! The bus arrived.

We got on and then the driver hollered back, "I'm only going to Mission."

I was angry. "What's going on this morning?" I asked her. "We waited for 45 minutes."

She explained there had been an accident (she did not say where) and that the buses had been stuck behind it. "There's another bus behind me," she said.

I got off the bus and waited for the 'bus behind her'.

Ten minutes later it showed up and we slowly made our way towards Potrero.

But not without the wires coming down twice.

And not without some Upper Haight street rat kids cursing out the driver for not picking them up. The kids cursed the driver, and their dogs barked, and then the kids threw cups of coffee at the bus.

The rest of the ride smelled like milky coffee and cheap cologne (once the Axe body spray guy got back on the bus at Mission).