Monday, February 29, 2016

Bus Report #911

This morning, the fog was as thick as cotton batting. I walked out into the dark, heavy morning, wishing for my winter coat. Our wonderful San Francisco fog, our Karl, wrapped itself around the streetlights and hovered over my neighborhood while I waited in the grey dark for the bus.

It was so foggy that I did not notice the bus coming, until it was right in front of the bus stop. It emerged from out of the fog as if in a dream, or some sort of 1940s noir film.

The fog only grew heavier and thicker as we wound our way up through the Haight to the high point of Clayton. For a few blocks, visibility was very, very bad. It was a wonder the driver was able to see anything, let alone stop for people waiting. Usually, I can see downtown and the entire expanse of the city and part of the bay out of the left-hand side window, but today, nothing. Not even the red neon light from the big Market Street Safeway sign.

The giant genie got on and sat down in his usual spot, commenced his grooming. Straight comb, and then mustache balm, and then lotion, and then dandy brush.

Down in the Castro, a man stood on the corner by Zapata, shouting and waving a long stick in the air. The sight of the bus seemed to anger him even further, and he stomped toward us, shaking the stick (a broomstick at closer inspection) at us.

In Potrero, it was already growing sunny but as I walked to work from the bus I could feel the last vestiges of the cool fog, of the dark, still clinging to my jacket for just a few minutes more.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Bus Report #910

Gorgeously foggy morning today.

I did not need my sunglasses at all, and as the bus climbed up towards Clayton and Market, I could not see the city below us. It was at once exhilarating and terrifying.

My seatmate from Market Street to Potrero was a man who is always nicely dressed in well-coordinated brightly colored corduroy pants and button-down shirts.
Today he smelled like lox and bagels and cream cheese. The sense of smell is a powerful thing: I was instantly transported back in time, to weekends with my whole extended family and mounds of bagels with all the fixings, the weekend newspapers spread across the table, endless pots of coffee percolating while breakfast morphed into brunch and then into lunch. The smell of my grandfather's aftershave and the mints he ate to disguise the fact he'd been smoking while out walking with my brother or cousins.

At Potrero I stepped down from the bus and walked the rest of the way to work, craving an everything bagel with cream cheese and a large Dunkin Donuts coffee, regular.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Bus Report #909

This morning, as I walked to the bus, I was startled by a man standing absolutely still in the middle of the Radio Shack on Clement. It was so quiet that I could hear the buzzing of the Shack's neon lights, and then I saw the man, standing next to a display of headphones. How bizarre. Was he an employee? Overnight cleaner? Had I just busted a thief?

A second look explained everything - it was a life-size cardboard cut-out of a celebrity who has taken to hawking headphones at the Shack.

I kept walking.

Further on, the open door that leads to the wetsuit landing was open, but no wetsuits in sight.

The bus arrived on time, our usual driver training a new driver.

As we made our way down Arguello to Stanyan and then down Haight, climbing up, up the hill, the light became brighter and brighter until I had to rummage through my bag for my sunglasses.

A man who always wears a watch cap got on the bus, hatless for the first time ever. He was bald. I never would have guessed, since he has quite an impressive and bushy beard. I wanted to introduce him to the giant genie so they could share beard-and-bald-head-care tips.

In the Castro, there were four different people walking four different, utterly adorable French Bulldogs.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bus Report #908

Tuesday nights, when we all head for the bus, L. and D. and I (or just L., or just D.), play the 1 California evening roulette.

Will the 1 California be going all the way out to 33rd? Will it be stopping at Presidio, or at Baker, or even at 6th Ave?

You just can't know, even if bus tracking apps try to stay up to date. Sometimes the 1 California drivers just decide to head to the yard early. When that happens, there are always a few angry people who yell at the driver, stomp off the bus.

Last night my bus was only going to Presidio.

I hopped out and waited for the 2 Clement, which was supposed to arrive in a minute. I recognized an elderly man who always carries two heavy shopping bags. Last time I saw him, the driver helped him with his bags.

Here's the bus, I said. Do you need help?
He shook his head. No, they're too heavy, don't worry about it. You get on first, since I will be slow.
Are you sure? I asked.
He was sure.

Another woman offered him her help but he declined again.

Soon the three of us were on the bus.

In the front of the bus, a few passengers chatted about how there were so many Clement Street stores closed for Chinese New Year.

Ah, said a man who spends a lot of time in the donut shop. Happy New Year to you, then.
The rest of the front of the bus passengers shared holiday wishes, even though none of them were Chinese at all.

Bus Report #907

Monday night, later than usual, stepping off of the 38 Geary.

The neighborhood smelled like fresh baked bread from Boudin, and something else: Chinese tea eggs.

It all made me hungry.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Bus Report #906

This morning on the 33 Ashbury...

The usual driver, the old Russian lady, and me, for many, many blocks.

At Fulton a kid got on who seemed a little out of it but otherwise fairly normal, until he started switching seats every couple of minutes, with no discernible pattern. It was unnerving. If he was trying to make sure he didn't miss his stop, all he needed to do was let the driver know where he was going.

The bus filled up, and the kid kept changing seats. He wore his khakis belt less and hanging off his ass, and as he hopped up and down and switched seats again and again, the pants began to slide down even further, until he was wearing just his boxer shorts with the khakis bunched up by his knees. Lots of bare, exposed thigh that no one wanted to see.

He was unbothered. Kept moving around until even the driver turned around and asked, "where are you trying to go?"

No answer from the kid.
He eventually got out at Mission Street. By now, I expect his khakis have fallen completely off.

The giant genie got on at his usual stop. He wore his enormous galoshes again. Combed his beard with a red plastic comb, then out came the dandy brush. Fantastic, as always.