Friday, February 24, 2017

Bus Report #960

For the last few days, the bus has been late in the mornings. Or maybe not late - maybe my normal buses just haven't shown up? Annoying. And when the bus has finally arrived, behind schedule, the new driver has been very slow. I know I'm not the only person who was late (or almost late!) for work this week.

At least it hasn't been raining.

Instead, the cold still air has held the rich buttery smell of freshly baking croissants and other pastries from Arsicault Bakery across the street. Pure torture, I tell you.

This morning I almost left the bus stop to get in the bakery line. Then I remembered my homemade lemon poppyseed scones stashed in my desk at work, and I decided to be brave, to keep calm and carry on.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Bus Report #959

One moment I was sitting in my seat on the 33 (fast commute, quiet, ordinary), wondering if it was too early to go to work and thinking I might stop off somewhere for a coffee.

The next minute, there was a horrible, primal noise coming from the back of the bus, or behind the bus, or, oh god, beneath the bus. I can't describe it except to say it came from somewhere deep, deep inside. It could have been an animal, but we all knew it was human.

Everyone (there were maybe ten of us left on the 33) looked around, and then we noticed the man on the floor at the back of the bus.
I stood up to look at the man, who was rolling around on the floor. No - wait - not rolling. He was in the middle of a seizure.

The Russian woman and the man with the catfish mustache hollered for our driver, James.

He stopped the bus and got up.

"Call 911!" the Russian woman said, at the same moment I said, "James, I think this man is having a medical emergency, a seizure or something."

The catfish mustache man made his way to the back of the bus and he and I wondered what we should do. The man was still seizing, his hands balled into fists, but he was breathing well.

None of us knew what to do (a horrible feeling - does anyone know of any evening or weekend first aid classes in San Francisco?). The catfish mustache man set down his cane and he knelt on the floor. He pulled the man by his legs, towards us, so that his head wasn't between two seats anymore but in the open space at the back of the bus instead. More room for him to move around.

James finished talking to the paramedics, telling us, "They're on their way," and then he quickly directed people who wanted to get out the bus and on their way to catch the approaching 22 Fillmore. James pulled his poles down so that the other bus could move around us.

Everyone got out except the Russian woman, a quiet woman who always sits at the front, and me. I don't know why I stayed. I wanted to make sure he was all right, I guess. And I wasn't in a rush. I also thought, fleetingly, that we might need someone who could speak Spanish just in case. My medical Spanish is really rusty but I would have made it work.

I watched and listened to the man's breathing.

"Is he conscious?" James asked us. We were not sure.
"He's breathing okay," I said.

James crouched down beside the man and asked him if he was all right. At this point, he was beginning to come around. Breathing hard, mumbling, trying to move.

"Do you want to sit up? Maybe you should stay lying down, sir," James said. He tried to keep the man still but the man began to sit up and try to feel his way to a seat.
James and I looked at each other.
"Where are the paramedics?" he asked.
"They're taking a long time," I said. I wasn't sure where they would be coming from but I knew there was a fire station just a few blocks away.

The man tried to stand up. James did his best to try coaxing him into a seat but the man was in his own world, and all he wanted to do was get out of the bus. James picked up the man's hat and helped him walk to the front of the bus. The man moved in slow motion. He stumbled once, twice, but James made sure he did not fall.

Thankfully the paramedics roared up and intercepted the man as he tried to walk down the stairs. He was in bad shape, though still alert and standing, and the paramedics and firemen surrounded him and helped him down to the sidewalk, speaking calmly to him in English and in Spanish. 

James, the quiet woman, the Russian woman and I looked at each other.

"That was not good," said the Russian woman. "He maybe also had a stroke."
I told her I hoped not.

James said he needed to stick around, that we should try to catch the bus behind him.

No matter. I said good bye to everyone and walked the rest of the way to work.

I hope the man is all right.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Bus Report #958

Last Friday afternoon, everyone on Muni was in a good mood. How often does that happen?
The 22 was almost empty. Even so, when the man we call Richard (or was it Ricardo?) got on, he slipped in to the seat beside me and said hello.
He'd had a few beers and was happy for the weekend. He spoke to me in a mix of Spanish and English. We chatted about weekend plans, about how glad we were that the rain had stopped.
He held out his hand and introduced himself as Mauricio. We shook.
"Rachel," I said, "mucho gusto."
He decided it was better if I was Raquel, and told me so.
I've always liked the name Mauricio, so from now on, Richard/Ricardo will be Mauricio.

At Mission Street he got out. "You going on further?" he asked, waving his hand in the direction of 16th Street.
"Yes," I said. "Have a good weekend."

Not much later, on the 38, a friendly, blond tax preparer from Texas charmed me and the woman sitting beside him. He was so sweet and friendly, and the three of us talked our entire commute from Divisadero to 6th Ave. We all agreed the rain was tiring but necessary, we loved the fog, and the weather was much better here than it was back in Texas.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Bus Report #957

Waiting for the 22 Fillmore after work, I was mostly concerned with getting my umbrella up before I got soaked.

Across the street there was a police car but I didn't pay attention - this is San Francisco, and I was in Potrero Hill. Lots of police officers around, every day. Nice folks, for the most part.

How can I explain how strange it was to, a moment later, watch people from the coroner's office wheel someone in a body bag out of one of the buildings across the street? I've never seen that before. Not in real life.

I watched them open the doors of their van and load the body into the back. They closed the doors and went back into the building, leaving the person alone. But I suppose the dead don't mind.

I don't know who it was or what the circumstances were, but I felt a sadness for the person, for their family, their friends.

When the bus finally arrived, I got on, dripping water everywhere - the seat, the floor, my legs.

Later, arriving home after hanging out with C., there were two people camping in my building's entry way, shooting up. At 10 PM, with people walking by.

"You need to get out of here," I said, my voice shaking - I'd never encountered this before.

"We're going, we're going," said the woman, gathering her things and slowly getting to her feet while her male companion just sort of wandered off down the sidewalk towards the street.

They left a hypodermic needle behind.

I swear, I've seen more needles on the sidewalk in the past year than I ever had in my entire life.

If you are curious how 311 recommends you dispose of unwanted needles left behind by junkies, let me tell you: they recommend you proceed carefully. They will not send anyone out to pick them up unless they are in the street or on the sidewalk. Even then, they can't guarantee pick up - it could be 24-48 hours.
Just get a broom, the man at 311 suggested, and sweep it away from your door.
Yes, great idea - there's a day care center right next door to us.

Maybe they'll come back for it, he said, trying to be helpful. Can I assist you with anything else? he asked.
No, I said. I don't think you can.