Friday, January 22, 2016

Bus Report #905

This morning my driver was the same friendly, valiant driver from last Friday's door debacle.
He smiled at me and said, "Let's see if we can make it all the way to the end of the route today."
I laughed. "I have faith," I told him.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bus Report #904

This morning's rain was more of a rainpocalypse than I expected.

I was drenched by the time the bus arrived but the bus was warm and while half the seats were wet, I got one that was dry. Or, I suppose, dry-ish. Water dripped in from the roof, making the floor of the bus slick and dangerous underfoot.

Our driver was not having any shenanigans - everyone had to pay or he'd yell at them, everyone had to board through the front door, and, just like yesterday, he told us multiple times not to eat on the bus. I wonder if this is a new push for Muni civility (sign me up!), some sort of 'make sure everyone behaves for the Super Bowl' threat from their bosses, or something else.

I can get behind all of that, but he was growly and confrontational and did not win any new friends.

One regular, who always gets off at the same stop on Clayton, must not have signaled for his stop because the driver drove right past it, despite the regular's protestations. He was let out less than a block later but he was angry, shook his fists at the driver in a cartoonish manner.

The giant genie got on at his usual spot. I stared at his galoshes - so huge! I've got big feet but even I could have fit both of my feet into one of his boots.

He ate a cheese danish but the driver didn't say anything. Maybe he knew the giant genie's got secret powers - you don't mess with a genie.

The giant genie finished his breakfast. He took his comb from his pocket and combed his beard and his mustache. Then he applied his mustache balm and combed again.

At Castro, a stooped, soaked man snuck in through the back door, slumped into a seat, and finished eating the box of Walgreen's brand chocolate chip cookies he held clasped in his hands. The driver said nothing.

I hopped out on 16th Street and caught the 22 Fillmore right behind my 33.

The man who always stands too close to me was on the bus and we nodded to each other.
A few blocks later the driver let me out on 17th, calling out to me to be careful on the stairs and to have a good day.

"Stay dry," I called back to her, and she laughed.
"Yeah, I will if you will," she replied.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Bus Report #903

This morning the 33 was almost empty, just five of us passengers and the driver.
Three of us, the ladies, all had dark curly hair - and this made me happy, but I am not sure why.
The other two passengers were a young guy who reminded me of someone from a long ago TV show and another regular passenger, a guy who always seems affectless, humorless. A human iceberg.

The bus rolled down Arguello and it did not take long to notice there was a problem with the back door. It would not close without human intervention - either one of us had to pull it closed or the driver had to stop the bus, get up, and do the same. There was a trick to it, since if we stepped down into the stepwell the motion sensors would fling the doors open, so we had to lean, and push.

I am not the praying type but I hoped we would make it at least down to the Castro before we had to go out of service, because that's how it was looking. I didn't want to get stuck in the Haight or Twin Peaks if I was going to have to walk part of the way to work. It was too early, still dark.

The five of us passengers took turns fixing the door, encouraging the driver. We smiled and joked with each other and wondered if we would get to work on time.

The driver said, "Sorry, you guys. Just bear with me, okay?"

Of course, we're with you, we've got your back, we all replied at one time or another as we slowly crawled up Ashbury.

The doors kept flying open, though, as we were driving. An unsafe situation even if we were all seated away from the door.

The young guy offered to stand there and hold the door shut.

"Nah, you'd be a liability, man," the driver said, smiling. "Can't let you do that."

The other curly-haired woman, a regular with a beautiful smile, wondered if there was anything we could use to push the doors shut.

The older German woman offered her umbrella. "Perhaps we can jam it so it does not come open?"

"No one has a length of rope or some chains this morning?" I said, kidding.

The driver just shook his head. "It's too early for this. And before breakfast."

"You have not yet eaten?" asked the German woman. "We must get you something."

"I'll be okay," said the driver. He fussed with the doors again. "Just stick with me a little bit longer, let's see what happens."

We stuck.

The doors did not, flying open again the minute the driver sat down and restarted his system.

"There's another bus in three minutes," said the iceberg man.

When the other bus came in to sight, we all trooped off our bus through the front door so we could say good bye and good luck to the driver.

The German woman squeezed his arm, wished him a good day.

I told him I hoped his day got better.

The young guy had just requested an Uber. He hastily canceled his order, waved to the driver.

The other curly-haired woman pulled a green pear from her backpack. "If you need a snack to tide you over, you are welcome to have this pear," she said.

The driver demurred. In that moment, I loved everyone on that bus. I loved the cold foggy morning, the broken bus, and the brightly lit bus pulling up right behind it.

We five passengers got on the new bus and sat down.

Later, when it was time to go, we disembarked one by one, waved to each other, smiled like old friends.

I was the last to leave.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Bus Report #902

This morning as I walked to catch the 33, I saw our neighborhood Recology guy, Ryan, twice and we greeted each other over the din of his truck. We waved and mouthed, "Good morning!" and continued on our separate (but slightly tandem) ways.

The mysterious door that leads up to the wet suit landing was open, warm yellow light spilling into the dark street.

At the bus stop stood the Axe body spray guy. This morning he said, "Hello, good morning," and I was surprised how soft his voice sounded.

The bus arrived and we got in, and soon we were flying down Arguello and then up to the Haight.

In front of Haight Street Market there were four delivery trucks double-parked with Tetris perfection. The bus squeezed past them and turned right to climb the hill.

None of the Ashbury regulars were waiting this morning. Curious.

In the Castro, in front of the bank, a dozen candles still burning brightly to honor the memory of David Bowie. A classic Bowie photo affixed to the fence above them.
Nearby, two bouquets of flowers and more photos of someone else's lost loved one. 

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Bus Report #901

This morning the rain came down in sheets.
I hurried to catch the bus. Somehow, in the rush, I managed to open my umbrella and then close it again, and I don't remember doing either of those things.

The woman from last night's 2 Clement got on. She waved and I said, "Long time no see."
"Yes, yes, long time no see," she said, and giggled.

The 33 was wet and perhaps running late because the driver was blowing through red lights like nobody's business.

Axe body spray guy reeked strongly of his preferred teenage-boy scent, but it was still not as bad as last night's perfume hawker and his terrible BLAZE cologne.

The giant genie got on at his usual stop. This morning he was wearing tall galoshes and lots of rain gear. He looked like Ahab. He looked like Ishmael. But mostly, he reminded me of New England sea captains in their bucket hats and their yellow slickers. All he needed was a corncob pipe and a wooden leg.
He sat down and combed his face and beard, and then applied his mustache balm, finishing off with his dandy brush.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Bus Report #900

Tonight was... memorable. As befits my 900th post, don't you think?

The 19 Polk was crowded but fine, until we got to the stop in front of the library.
A man got on - stumbled on, really - and immediately took a bottle of perfume from his jacket pocket.
"I got Chanel No.5," he said loudly, waving the bottle around. "Chanel No.5. Coco Chanel. This usually four hundred dollars, but I'll make you a deal."

He was talking into the air at first, at everyone and at no one. He fell into the seat beside me, offered me his perfume.
Whatever it really was, it was not as advertised. The bottle was small and filled with a grey-blue liquid. The name of this perfume? BLAZE. In big black block letters.

He sprayed some on his hand and then wiped his hand on his cheeks and his forehead.
The smell, a cloying musky scent (made much, much worse by his liberal application) made me cough.
I opened the window.

He kept waving the bottle around, trying to interest people in making a purchase.
When no one bit, he began spraying the air, or spraying the backs and arms and backpacks of the unsuspecting passengers cramming into the back of the bus.

A petite woman carrying a very fluffy dog sat down in front of us, the dog in her lap.
The man stood up and went to pet the dog, but he didn't just pet the dog once and be done with it.
He slipped the perfume bottle into his pocket and began petting the dog with both hands, leaning down to talk to the dog and then he puckered his lips in an attempt to kiss it.
The woman had been polite the whole time, but she was done now. She jumped up but not fast enough to avoid the man, who ended up planting his kiss on the woman's sleeve. She made her way to the front of the bus and I did not see her again.

For the rest of the ride, he kept spritzing his perfume, until I was not the only person coughing and wrenching open the windows.

He moved to the back of the bus and spent the rest of our time together slamming his hand into the side of the bus, repeatedly.

Later, on my way home, I got on an almost-empty 2 Clement.
The woman sitting behind me smiled as I sat down.
"I saw you this morning," I said to her, finally placing her smiling face.
"Yes, and you see I am only just now going home. This is my life," she said.
"Wow, that's a long day." I'd seen her on my way to the 33, almost twelve hours earlier.

In the front of the bus, a girl chatted up our driver. He was a recent transfer to our route, from the 10 Townsend.
"This must be easier," the girl said.
"Oh yes," the driver chuckled.

And as someone who has often made the mistake of taking the 10 in the evening commute, I had to agree.