Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bus Report #968

Four days in a row with Leon as our early morning driver.
After everyone hops out at Potrero I ride along with him down to Kansas. We talk about the weather, Leon's one-man campaign to educate riders about not running out in traffic to catch the bus, his recent home improvement projects.

It's nice.

This afternoon, the man sitting across the aisle from me is so beautiful I can't stop staring. He's got perfect skin, slightly rosy, a well-trimmed mustache framing a delicate pink mouth. So beautiful, I wonder if he used to be a woman? Shame on me, I suppose, but I spend a few minutes subtracting the mustache, the buzz cut, the boy's figure. But I can't see it. He's just a beautiful man.

He gets out at 16th and Mission.

I was listening to a new podcast on the way home - don't we love podcasts that are long enough to keep us company along our commutes? And man, is it good. As the bus arrived in to the stop at Duboce, something happened in the podcast that stopped me short. I think I even held my breath for a moment, and then I bit in to my tongue.

Because otherwise, I really think I'd have started crying.
Good lord.

Still recovering from it. It's like aftershocks.

I'll let you discover it on your own, for now. Maybe in a month or two I'll let you know what I was listening to.

Geary and Fillmore, waiting for the 38 bus with a dozen or so other people. The bus slides in to the stop and we pile on. I sit across from a huge kid who spends the whole ride talking loudly on the phone - or at least, I think he's on the phone, but then I notice he is not on the phone at all. Just speaking out into the ether. His big brown eyes bulging and sweeping the bus for someone to listen to him.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bus Report #967

This morning, a surprisingly damp and humid start to the day, and foggy.

Caught the 33, Leon at the wheel again, no regulars except the annoying little woman with her garlic tea.

We flew down Arguello, and then down Fulton and Stanyan, picking up just one of the Hayes girls today. She grinned and we said good morning as we always do. As she passed by, I caught a whiff of her coconut hair product. People keep telling me I should get some for myself, and maybe one of these days, I will.

In the Haight, when we turned on to Ashbury, Leon honked and yelled out the window at a woman who did not let him turn (she was supposed to wait behind the painted line for him to turn first). She just shrugged and shot him a bitchy look. Nice.

The giant genie got on at his usual stop and sat in the front of the bus. First, he combed his beard and mustache. Then, he took his lotion out of his bag and lotioned up his hands, and his sleeve in the process. Those hands. They are huge. He lotioned and lotioned, mesmerizing, really.

As we rounded the hairpin turn at the top of Market and Clayton, the city was below us, still asleep for the most part, a thick band of dark grey fog obscuring the tops of the tallest buildings.

(and I just found this - some historical photos of this turn (and former switchback), for your geeky enjoyment)

Just like yesterday, everyone got out the bus at Potrero and 16th, except for me.
Leon turned around and grinned. "Hey, so it's just us again, huh?"
"Yep," I said, and I went up to the front of the bus and sat down.
We chatted about the weather (which has gotten progressively colder and drearier as the week has gone on) and about his regulars.
"I'm great with faces, but not names," he said. "By the way, what's your name?"
"Rachel," I said. "You?"

Because, as you may have guessed, I'm big on pseudonyms here. Leon is, of course, not his real name.

But we're still going to call him that, because despite now knowing his real name, he could still be a Leon.

He said, "I love my regulars. You know? It's like they're my friends, especially after a while."
I nodded. "I get it. We do spend a lot of time with you guys."
He laughed. "I'm off tomorrow, so I'll see you next week," he said.
"Have a good rest of your week," I told him, and headed down the street to work.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Bus Report #966

This morning the sky was a matte charcoal grey, and foggy.
So pleasantly foggy that even though I was cold, I felt cozy. My shoes sounded extra loud as I walked down a very deserted Clement Street.

The 33 was on time, Leon at the wheel.
The marquee on the bus said it was only going to Bryant and 17th - fine with me - due to the road work on Potrero.

Leon asked me if I was going further than that.

"It's okay, I usually just walk," I told him.
"What I mean is, I have to turn around on Kansas so you can ride with me til then if you want," he replied.
"That's great, thanks, I'd love a ride," I said, and went to sit down.

The bus was quiet this morning. Not many regulars, just the ladies who get on at Hayes and a man who gets on up on Corbett. No giant genie. No smiley man.

In the Mission some loud guys got on and continued their... Conversation? Argument? in the back of the bus.

When we got to Potrero and 16th, Leon turned around and told everyone to switch to a 9 San Bruno or to the 33 shuttle. Everyone got out except me and one of the loud men, who came and sat near me and said something to me that was completely unintelligible. I could not tell what language, if any, he was using, so I just shrugged and he laughed.

"You going to Kansas?" Leon asked him.
The man shook his head. "Hospital," he said.
"Then you gotta get out and transfer," Leon told him.
"Ah, okay, man," said the man, and he tripped down the stairs and swerved down the sidewalk.

Leon caught my eye in the mirror. "I always keep an eye out for the crazies," he said. "Especially in the mornings, there's a lot more weirdos these days."

I concurred. I moved up to the front of the bus so we could talk without shouting.
He chatted while he drove, and I got out at Kansas and 17th. We wished each other a good day.

"See you tomorrow, and thanks," I said, and I crossed the street and headed to work.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I'd be remiss if I didn't share this with you...

Our lovely friends at Muni Diaries shared this on their site today, and it is fabulous.
SFMTA Photo Archive?
Hell yes.


Friday, March 10, 2017

Bus Report #965

Last night I left work a little early to catch the 10 Townsend, so I could get to The CJM for my volunteer shift.

As usual, the ride down Townsend to Second was slow and frustrating. Second Street was congested, not as awful as it could have been, but our driver was having none of it.

He turned on to Brannan and then swung over to Third, trying to get around the traffic.
I didn't mind - I'd still be more than on time - but some of the other passengers were getting nervous.

The driver barrelled down Third until we hit the traffic tangle on Folsom. He needed to get over to the right but was having trouble doing so.

He hollered back to us, his bewildered passengers. "Can I turn right here?"
Yes, you can.

"Can you all see behind me, am I okay to turn?"
We can, and yes, you're okay, but....

He turned a little too widely and had to back up into the intersection.

Finally, we were on Folsom, inching our way through the traffic to Second.

He let a few people out at Second and Folsom and kept on going.

Did we save any time? Not according to my watch!

This morning, the homeless woman in my neighborhood who I worry about all the time was waiting at the bus stop with me. She had her bags with her as she always does. When the bus arrived, she dragged her suitcase and bags up the stairs and stowed them over to the side while she counted out coins to pay her fare. She paid, got a transfer, and sat down. She talked to herself quietly as she does most of the time.

I noticed someone staring at her and immediately felt defensive. Leave her alone, I wanted to say. She's fine. She's our neighbor.

I don't know where she was going this morning. I always, always hope she will some day feel comfortable enough to accept the help that I know has been extended to her.

Meanwhile, I've got her back.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Bus Report #964

This morning I walked to work and it was sunny out - I love this time of year.

Leon was our driver. Courteous, friendly, he's great. I noticed our bus had one of the Muni ads with his photo on it. I wonder if he finds that strange at all.

At Mission Street, a toothless older woman tried to sneak in through the back door just as Leon had begun closing it. She cursed him out and yelled, and when she finally pushed her way through the door and climbed up the stairs, she yelled at him again for not opening the door, and then for driving off before she was seated.

They traded barbs for the next few blocks. She was angry at him, he told her she was a freeloader and he didn't have to let her on if he didn't want to.

"I'm no freeloader," she said, but she made no move to pay her fare or show a transfer.

He looked at her in the mirror and rolled his eyes, and kept driving.

Fourth day in a row with the Giant Genie. That's always auspicious, I think. He sat in the front of the bus and went through his whole routine. Lotion on his face, head and hands, dandy brush, beard wax, the whole thing. There's comfort in that routine.

I hopped out at Potrero and grabbed a bagel for breakfast. Crossing the street afterwards, I ran in to coworker D., headed for the gym. "Hey, Rachel!" he called as he passed by.
I pulled off my headphones, said, "Hey, you - you're early today!"
He grinned and nodded and hoisted his gym bag.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Bus Report #963

This morning the 33 was on time for the first time in four days.

I caught sight of our new driver (now that James and the Andre Holland lookalike have taken new shifts) as he pulled in to the stop - it was Leon, a friendly driver from years past. I can't remember but I think he used to drive the 22 in the afternoons.

We smiled at each other and waved before he'd even opened the door.

"Hello there, stranger," I said. "How are you?"
"Wow, it's been what? 2, 3 years?" he asked. "I just saw you and was like, hey, I know her."
"Well it's great to see you," I told him.
"Yeah, you, too."
We caught up for a moment and I went to sit down.

Welcome back, Leon, it is great to see you.

Bus Report #962

When was the last time you rode a cable car, dear readers?

If you're anything like me, it has been quite a long time. I used to love walking down to the turnaround on California Street and riding up to Polk, but I haven't done that in forever.

And I don't think I've ever been on the main Powell line other than my first Christmas in San Francisco, when my roommates and I got booted off the cable car because we'd run to catch it and had jumped on while it was moving. We deserved it, but how else were three tipsy ladies going to get to the Tonga Room that night? Walking? Heh.

The other night I had dinner with C. over in Nob Hill. He'd taken a cable car to meet me and I decided it was time I went on one again, so after dinner we caught a Hyde Street car and rode to the end of the line.

You forget how the car moves up and down the hills, the grip latching onto the constantly moving cables, the way the gripman staffs the back of the car, the conductor ringing the bells. In between talking to the gripman, C. pointed out the smell of the wood and the grease of the brakes - something almost piney. Something warm.

At night there aren't a lot of riders. There were the usual tourists, sure, but also local people. An elderly woman in a smart coat, carrying her groceries. People on their way to supper, or home from work. The city is so quiet, it is strange. We kept catching views of the Bay Bridge lights all the way down by the water front. At the top of one hill, we were so high up I could not see the street below.

Get out one afternoon or evening soon, everyone, and catch a cable car. Your Clipper monthly pass works on the cable cars, so you have no excuses.

Check back in here and tell me about your cable car experience. I'll accept past excellent cable car stories, too.

If enough people write in, I'll raffle off a small but fun prize. You've got until March 15 to enter the raffle.

Bus Report #961

Late afternoon on the 22 Fillmore, lots of high school kids sitting in the back of the bus. One boy slouched against a window seat with his headphones on, zoning out.

A trio of chatty girls got on and pushed through to the back of the bus. Two of the girls sat in the back row. The third girl, in her high school sweatshirt and hat from her school's track team, looked at the teen boy, and then at her friends, and then she said, loudly, to the boy, "I'm gonna sit here, okay?"
He was deep in his own world but he nodded and moved his backpack and the girl sit down.
She stole a glance at the boy, then leaned forward and told her friends, "I'm just gonna say it. He is fine. This boy, he is fine."
Her friends giggled and whispered to her to quiet down.
She just shrugged and grinned, said, "He can't hear me. He's got them headphones." To prove it, she said, "Ain't that right? You can't hear a word I'm saying."
The boy did not react. Said nothing.

The rest of the ride, the girls chatted and giggled and the girl sitting next to the boy - let's call her Desirae, because her name was something like that - kept glancing over at him, fidgeting with her own phone, putting her own headphones on and then taking them off. The boy sat there, still not betraying if he knew what was happening.
At one point, Desirae nudged his knee by accident and he sat up straighter and looked over at her, smiling slightly. She roared with laughter with her friends. "I'm so sorry," she said to the boy. He just shrugged and when she did it again, he didn't respond.

They were funny, those teens. I wanted to tell the girl to be bold and go for it. Get his number, or his Facebook, whatever high school kids do these days (and yes, I know that makes me sound old!)
What's the expression? You miss the shots you don't take.