Friday, June 26, 2015

Bus Report #880

Gorgeous foggy morning today. As the 33 made its way through the Panhandle and the Haight the fog was thick and alive, completely shrouding JFK Drive, crawling its way over Oak Street and climbing up the hill to cover Twin Peaks.

The sun came up just as we began our descent into the Castro - and this is when I should have known today was destined for greatness. The Castro was only just waking up and beginning its day. All down 18th Street, from Castro to Mission, newly hung rainbow flags draped from windows and balconies.

The bus dropped me off at Potrero and I walked the rest of the way to work, waving to the guys at the garage, stepping around trash strewn beneath the freeway, trying not to wake up the man sleeping in a sunny spot on the corner of Vermont and 16th.

And then I got the news on my phone, the Supreme Court making gay marriage the law of the land, and I smiled. And then I cried tears of happiness for the Professor and JD, and for my cousins and friends, and for all of us, really.

Happy, happy Friday!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bus Report #879

It was late, and I was tired, blinking in the florescent light of the 22 Fillmore.

A man sat down beside me. He didn't leave any space between our bodies and I tried to slide closer against the window but it made no difference. The entire length of our ride I could feel his thigh against my thigh, his shoulder and arm against my shoulder and arm.
He smelled peculiar; like cigarettes and fresh mint but something earthier, deeper than cigarettes and mint. Something I've never smelled before. Almost astringent.

He had two plastic shopping bags, heavy with groceries. He set them down between his legs and spent most of the ride keeping the bags upright, and trying to catch my eye.
I've had a cold this week and my voice was shot, my mouth and throat dry, a cough trying to free itself from my chest. I did not want to talk to my seat mate. I wanted to go home.

Near Turk Street he rummaged in one of the bags and took out a red delicious apple, slightly bruised.
He held it out to me and his bloodshot eyes seemed to be imploring me to take it.
"No, thanks," I said, shaking my head. "No, thanks."
He said, "Me, Jordan. No English."
"You're from Jordan?" I croaked. My voice was not behaving.
"Jordan," he confirmed, trilling the 'r' and the 'd' just slightly.
He held my gaze and didn't look away. I didn't know what to say. I thought of his full grocery bags, of the apple.
I smiled and said the only thing I could think of that he might understand. "Ramadan?"

His eyes bore into mine for another moment. I tried to telegraph what I really meant to say to him: I hope you have a good Ramadan, I hope you have friends and family to share it with, and thank you for offering me your apple. You may not be from here, but you are welcome and I wish you well.

He nodded, slowly. "Yes, Ramadan. You? Jordan?"
"No," I said. I jabbed my finger at my chest. "American. From here."

The bus pulled in to Geary and I gestured that we'd reached my stop. "Good night," I called back to him as I ran down the stairs and dashed across the street to catch the 38 Geary.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Bus Report #878

This week's warm weather has brought a much beloved (by me, at least) side effect - deliciously thick early morning fog. The foghorns have been going off all night long and into the early hours of the morning, lulling me to sleep at night and nudging me awake just before my alarm clock.

At the bus stop I can feel the morning damp against my face and neck and it feels so good. The Recology truck rumbles by and the driver steps down to collect trash and recycling. He smiles and waves and tosses the cans into the truck. He pulls a marker from his vest and scribbles something on top of one of the trash cans. When he leaves, I walk over to see what he wrote: Please call and request a bigger trash can.

The bus arrives, three women already on board. The Russian woman who works at UCSF is spread out in the seat in front of me, her swollen feet propped up against the side of the bus. Luckily for me, she does not loudly Skype her son this morning as she does so many mornings. When she sits in front of me she often angles her phone to get the best picture of herself and half the time I see the side of my face or my sleepy-looking eyes peering out behind her.
I don't think her son needs to see me when he talks to her.

The 33 Ashbury climbs up Ashbury and straight into the fog - fog so heavy it obscures the homes up on the hill, and further on, as the bus hairpin-turns onto Market, the fog coats everything below us. I can't see the Safeway sign at Church and Market, or any of the houses cascading down the hills towards the Castro.

The giant genie is unperturbed. Lotion, mustache balm, dandy comb, lotion again, and then we reach his stop on 16th and he stoops down to get out of the bus.

Further on down 16th a broken ceramic mug lies in three pieces scattered across the sidewalk.