Saturday, January 28, 2017

Bus Report #956

Last night I took the 22 Fillmore to the 9 San Bruno, to meet S. downtown for one last drinks and dinner session at Lefty O'Doul's.

The 9 was not crowded. I sat in the back with a couple of quiet bearded men who spent the whole ride on their phones, a pasty woman in a Giants sweatshirt, a happy drunk man, and his friend, wearing a black and gold 'Straight Outta San Francisco' hoodie. I liked his sweatshirt a lot - so much so I almost told him.

His friend was swigging from a bottle of Hennessy and the two of them were laughing and joking about girls, the cops, their weekend plans, and who had spent more time in the drunk tank.

They were funny. Loud and unavoidable but they were funny. The woman in the Giants sweatshirt snorted loudly and they started filming her on their phone - Facebook Live style.

The three of them joked and the drunk friend started hanging the bottle of Hennessy out the window, trying to get the drivers to notice him. He yelled for everyone to get drunk. "It's Friday, everyone get drunk! Get drunk! Get drunk!"

I couldn't help giggling.

The drunk friend started yelling that he liked girls with good paying jobs - "They bring the bread, and give the head!" and his friend laughed, and the woman laughed, and I couldn't help laughing, too. He fed off our glee and began chanting this, much to the chagrin of a couple women sitting towards the front of the bus.

They were still filming each other. Straight Outta San Francisco told the woman, "Yo, you're famous now, you're live on Facebook."

The drunk friend must have heard me giggle. He said, "Hey, hey lady, I hope you're not offended or anything."

"Not at all," I said. "I've got no problem with it."

The two of them howled with laughter. Straight Outta San Francisco zoomed his phone in my direction, said, "You're on Live now too!"

The woman got out at Taylor and Market. The guys called after her, asking for her Facebook name, but she just smiled and kept walking.

The bus slowed into my stop, which was apparently theirs, too. 

The drunk friend said, "Hey hope you don't mind but you gonna be totally famous now, you on YouTube and Facebook!"

I just shrugged. "Doesn't matter to me," I said. "I probably won't ever see it."

"It's gonna go viral," he said. "You'll see. We gonna be famous."

"Then I guess people will be coming up to me on the sidewalk, huh?" I said.

The guys just laughed.

"Seriously, though, hope you don't mind," said Straight Outta San Francisco.

I just shook my head. "No worries," I told them. "You guys have a good night."

"You, too," said Straight Outta San Francisco. His drunk friend just laughed.

I didn't tell the guys they were going to be famous too - famous to us, famous here.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Bus Report #955

This morning, on the 33, the smiley man sat in front of me.

I don't make it a daily practice to stare at people's ears, but I immediately noticed something odd about his. Behind each ear there are four deep creases of skin on either side, between his earlobes and his hairline. I've never noticed that on anyone else before.


In Potrero, waiting to cross the street, a person with a thin blue blanket draped over their bony shoulders was down on the sidewalk on all fours, scrabbling around on the ground for something that was not there. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Bus Report #954

Monday morning, cold and drizzly walk down Clement Street to catch the 33.
The doors and windows of Clement, all closed.

In front of Sparky's, a pink balloon was tied to a parking meter. A message was written on it in permanent marker: When they go low, we go high. - Michelle Obama
Nice. Very nice.

The bus arrived on time, driven by the friendly driver who reminds me of Jason. I suppose he also looks like the actor Andre Holland - sweet smile, beautiful eyes.
(and speaking of Holland - if you have yet to see Moonlight, you've got to see it. It's got the Rachel seal of approval. The Rachel-back guarantee.)

In the Castro the smiley man got on, followed by a trio of twitchy, meth-y folks. One of the men carried a green milk crate and I don't know what was in it, but it was heavy. He hauled it up the stairs, almost hitting the smiley man in the process. All three of the twitchy folks smelled so strongly of stale cigarettes they had that nutty, old coffee smell about them, too.
The man with the crate and the lone woman among them sat behind me. The entire rest of the ride I could hear them tearing the plastic off of things, dropping things on the floor, and then scrabbling to pick them up.

I got out at my usual stop, accompanied by the smiley man who wished me a good day and quickly crossed the street before the light changed. I waited for my light, and then I hopped over large puddles on Potrero and crossed to the next corner.

The garage was just opening when I walked by and my friend there, do we call him George? he greeted me and said, "I forgot to give you your Christmas gift!"
I followed him into the office and wished his wife a Happy New Year. A moment later, George handed me a pint glass branded with their logo, filled to the brim with pens, pencils and Hershey's Kisses. I thanked him and walked the rest of the way to work clutching the glass in my free hand.

This morning, talking with the smiley man, I pointed out the amazing peach-pink sky peeking out above Potrero.
"That means a storm is coming," he said, still smiling. "Trust me. We say that in Mexico."

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Bus Report #953

This morning when I got on the bus and went to sit down, there was an old Muni token lying forgotten on my seat. I haven't seen one of those in a long, long time - are they even still usable? I have a feeling they aren't, and that that's why it was abandoned to its fate.

I scooped it up and slid it into my pocket.

A good luck charm, I thought. Hopefully it will bring me lots of bus luck.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Bus Report #952

NextBus bus predictions have been down for several days, and it makes for hard times planning my commute.
Back in the old days you could sort of predict when the bus was coming based on the schedules printed on the Muni bus stops. I still spent a lot of time standing around waiting, though.

Yesterday evening I had to guess when my bus was coming. I went out to wait around the same time as usual but there was no  one else at the stop. Oh well, I must have mis-timed things. A few minutes later, an almost empty bus pulled up and I got on. I wondered where everyone was. Had they just given up, watching NextBus flip from 1 minute to 10 minutes to 37 minutes?

At McAllister I waited with a handful of other people. NextBus was still offering predictions even though they were all mind-bogglingly incorrect.

5 Fulton in 9 and 59 minutes - which changed to 3 and 10, and then 10 and 79.
5R in 6 and 10 minutes - quickly flipping to 3 and 4 minutes, and then 4 and 27 minutes.

The 5 showed up 5 minutes later, packed incredibly tightly.

This morning I woke up and made my tea, pulled up NextBus to see if it was working again yet. Predictions still down - no buses predicted for my line, at all. The SFMTA Twitter was just as useless, the account apologizing for the outage and claiming to let us know when predictions were back up.

I walked down to the bus stop in the very, very cold darkness, and waited.
The bus was right on time.

Oddly, though, it was just as empty as the bus had been yesterday - I would say less than half as many people as usual.

I hoped the smiley man was able to get to work today, from all the way out by the zoo. I did not see him in the Castro, but wished him luck anyway.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Bus Report #951

Happy New Year, one and all.

I hope you enjoyed a quiet and cozy holiday season.

I wasn't here to tell you Muni stories, as I was in London for vacation - riding their clean, quiet and on time buses and finding my way through the London Underground.

But now I'm back, as I hope you are, too.

This morning was misty and foggy, but unlike yesterday it was not raining hard enough for me to use my umbrella.

I didn't see C. on the corner, but when I was halfway down the block I heard him singing to himself as he walked toward his bus.

At my bus stop I could tell there was a problem. The Axe body spray guy (who, it turns out, is very nice, though very overly cologned) was waiting. I asked him if the bus was late and he nodded, and shrugged, and wished me a happy new year.

Ten minutes later our bus arrived. Driver James smiled and we exchanged "good mornings" and "happy new years" and the bus moved on down the street, in the misty darkness.

We picked up regulars.

The two women who always get on at Hayes, A man with cool boots who gets on at Clayton, the bald bearded man, the Giant Genie. Everyone wrapped in waterproof layers. Everyone armed with umbrellas.

At Castro and 18th, the bank's memorial wall was still covered with George Michael tributes.

The smiley man who gets on at Castro climbed aboard. We greeted each other and he went to sit in the back of the bus.

Another 33 bus approached in the opposite direction and James stopped to talk to the driver. Apparently there had been wires down further down the line earlier in the morning, but they were now fixed.

We rode on.

The windows fogged up so that several people were not sure where we were. They hurried to get out at their stops before they missed them altogether.

The lights at the Dolores Park Cafe were bright and cheery and while I am often tempted to get out the bus and go in for a snack, this morning the pull was even stronger. But I resisted. Some other time.

The Giant Genie got out at Mission and 16th, stooping, as he does, to step down from the bus.

At Potrero the smiley man and I got out, called a "have a good day" to Driver James.
The corner and the cross walk were blocked by a broken down 33 bus. A PG&E truck parked nearby clued me in that there was another electrical problem. Tough for everyone going further than Potrero and 16th.

I crossed the street with the smiley man and we ended up walking all the way to work together. He has worked in the neighborhood for over 20 years, but lives all the way over by the zoo! He told me about a bad commute a few days ago, that took him a whopping three hours to get to work. All I could do was shake my head.

And I thought I had a long (distance-wise) commute!

We chatted and it made the walk go so much faster. He needs a blog name. Something friendly and fun. A name you could hug. Any suggestions?