Thursday, September 24, 2015

Bus Report #891

Last night I hurried up the street to catch the 19 Polk.
I had to be somewhere in forty minutes and the bus was already running late.
It arrived a few minutes later and I got on, slid in to an empty seat beside an older man in a floppy hat, who was on the phone.
When he finished his call, he fiddled with the phone and put on some music.
I braced myself for the usual tinny sound of bad top 40 tunes.
But no. Instead, a deep, rich voice boomed out from the tiny phone, singing a mournful song about love.
I asked the man what he was listening to. He turned the phone so I could see the name on the screen.
"It's Gerald Levert," he said. "You know him? You remember the old times?"
I didn't, and I didn't. "It sounds really lovely," I told my seatmate.
"Yeah well you know, I don't go in for all that rap stuff," he said. He shook his head. "Gerald Levert, you remember that."
"I will," I said.
We sat in silence and listened to the music.
The bus was crowded and people were yelling. A woman with a double stroller and two other kids clutched a large Mylar balloon in the shape of a big purple shark. She tried to keep the balloon away from the babies, away from the other passengers.
It was all very... 19 Polk.
But the music was pretty and for a moment the rest of the rush hour commute drifted away, out the window and out to sea.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Bus Report #890

This morning our usual driver was training a new driver. The new guy drove slowly, while the usual driver leaned over to share tips and techniques.

In the Haight, by the McDonald's, a group of dodgy guys stood clustered around a fleet of (probably) stolen bikes and bike parts.
As we idled in the stop for a moment to let passengers on and off, one of the men grabbed a spray can and promptly began to tag the bus.

A young man sitting in the back of the bus called to the driver, "Hey, this guy is spray painting the bus!"

Our usual driver started to walk back to see what was going on, but by then the sprayer had retreated to the sidewalk and put away his cans.

Our usual driver urged his trainee to close the doors and keep going, and we rolled along.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Bus Report #889

Last night, after a week of unseasonably hot weather, I stepped off the 38R at 6th and Geary and was excited to see my friend, our friend, Karl the Fog back in town.

Walking the rest of the way home I watched the fog rolling over the neighborhood in tendril-like wisps. Oh, it felt good.

This morning, the fog hung low over the neighborhood. It was heavy and thick and made me want to crawl back underneath the duvet I'd thrown off an hour earlier.

Lights were on in many of the homes all along Arguello and later, Ashbury. With the shades open, each illuminated room in the apartments and houses looked like a dollhouse room. Painting hung here and there. Kitchens cluttered with pots and pans and coffee makers all pressed up where the window meets the wall. Stoves in silhouette. Flickering televisions with the viewers hidden from sight. Cats sitting on the backs of sofas, surveying the streets.

The bus was almost empty my entire ride and for a moment I wondered if perhaps it was Saturday and I was going to work by mistake. We rounded the hairpin turn onto Market and the connection to the electricity fell down. The bus braked, hard, and then the driver hopped out to fix the connection.

On 16th and Potrero a man crouched over a glass jar and emptied something in to it. The jar was full of... I'm not sure. Vegetables? Vinegar? Was he making sidewalk pickles? I'll never know.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Bus Report #888

I walk over a dozen blocks to get to the bus these days, down Clement Street in the early morning quiet.
In the morning the only other people out and about are the cabbies, the restaurant workers, the delivery guys. Homeless people waking up in doorways. A man who picks up trash and moves trash cans back onto the sidewalk after trash collection. A couple who meet at the donut shop and then sit in the man's pickup truck with their coffees and pastries, sometimes arguing, sometimes making out.
The man who delivers supplies to the pizzeria, always smiling, always saying good morning, cheerful despite his 3 AM start to his day. The bus boy from Hamburger Haven.

Mornings, before the shops open and before the street comes to life, Clement belongs to the birds.
Flocks of crows (or should I say, murders of crows?), seagulls, pigeons and small sparrows vie for space on the overhead wires. They fight each other for the right to pick at the overflowing compost bins in front of some of the neighborhood's finest restaurants. The crows shriek and scream and sometimes sound eerily human.

And there are open doors on Clement. Open to let in restaurant workers and the delivery guys, open for some cool air on a warm morning.
One perpetually open door leads up a flight of stairs to a landing where a trio of wet suits hang above a wooden bench. I wonder what goes on out of sight around the corner from the landing.

I linger in front of William The Beekeeper and look at the handmade clothes, the jewelry.

When I hear the electric screech of overhead wires I dash to the corner and catch the 33, only a little breathless.