Friday, May 26, 2017

Bus Report #978

A normal Friday morning before a long weekend. The bus was empty when Leon pulled up, but soon we took on more passengers, mostly regulars: The man who works for PG&E, the OCD religious mom and her cute daughter, several women who ride down to Valencia and a few solemn construction workers.

Just after the turn from Arguello onto Fulton, our bus stopped- just went dead. A hazard of the electric buses. Leon got out to take the poles down for a minute, to try to restart, and then he came back on board and tried to get the bus going again. He tried to restart a handful of times, to no avail.

"Sorry, folks," he said. "I think we may be out of service but I'm going to try again. worse case, you can sit tight right here and wait for the next coach to arrive, which should be here soon."

He tried again. Nada. He called Central, and they 'helpfully' told him to do all the restart things he had already tried. He held the black handset to his ear and repeated that he'd already done that, and then he told them where we were stalled. They didn't seem to understand, so he told them again.

He hung up and then walked half way through the bus to talk to all of us.

"Sorry, everyone, for the inconvenience. Sometimes this kind of thing happens but I know its frustrating, you've all got to get to work, or to school," at this, he looked at the little girl. "And those guys downtown, they're nice people... But some of them, they've never driven a bus in their lives, and they're not from here so they have no idea where we are right now. Asking me to take down my poles... Of course I'm going to try that first!" we all laughed as he shook his head at their inadequate response.

Something lovely happened next.

The OCD religious mom asked him what his favorite route was. He responded, "the 33, probably, cause it's mellow and pretty and hits so many neighborhoods. For a while I was nervous about it - about that turn onto Market - but now I can just do it so smoothly, I don't mind. Lots of drivers have that same fear, you don't even know. The 22's okay, too - always busy though, no downtime." He leaned up against one of the poles and shoved his hands in his pockets. "I have one regular, a man who's lived here 30 years, and he only just started taking my bus. He said he loved it because of all the views and what not. You know - some of you, like Rachel and like you, young lady," and he pointed at one of the regulars sitting in the front, "You've known me for years on this line. So you know me, I'm easy going unless someone tries to hassle me or my passengers. Cause you know, it's my job to make sure you're all getting around safely."

He went on. "You know, all of you, next week's my last week with y'all, I'm switching lines."

A collective, "oh no!" passed through everyone on the bus.

The little girl asked, "Will we ever see you again?" Poor kid, she sounded so distraught!

Leon smiled. "Hopefully, in the fall, when school's back and there are more open runs."

He looked past us to see what buses were coming up behind ours, and he jumped to action.

"Here's your coach, everybody. I'm going to go signal for him to pull right on up. Let's go."

Like kids following our pied piper, we got out and waited for Leon to flag the bus down. When it was time for us to get on he told us we didn't need to tag our Clippers again, and that he apologized again and hoped we'd all have a great day.

The little girl and her mom told him, "God bless you," and he waved at us as the bus rounded the corner and headed down into the Haight.

Have a grand holiday weekend, all!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Bus Report #977

Sunny morning, with sunny people.

I waved good morning to the friendly Russian woman, stopped to talk with Joan, who just returned from vacation in Mexico. She urged me to go, said I'd like the dry heat, the food, etc.
I told her I was glad she'd had a good trip, and I kept walking.

The 33 was empty when I got on. "Good morning, miss Rachel," Leon said, drawing out the word miss so it sounded more like 'miiiiiiiizzzzzz' and I laughed and said good morning back, kidded with him a little.

Regular and semi-regular passengers piled on, got out at their usual stops. The obsessively religious woman and her poor little daughter. The mean-face trainee nurse. The tall, stately woman with her wool socks pulled halfway up her calves. The spiky-haired older gentlemen with his stovepipe jeans folded just so above his boots.

The Hayes Street ladies ran to catch the bus, but they didn't have to run - Leon always waits for his regulars.

In the Haight, we crawled up Ashbury behind a slow bicyclist. Such a slow bicyclist.

The giant genie got on at a stop before his usual. He sat down in the front of the bus and began his lotion and beard maintenance routine.

In the Castro, a man wearing a thin pair of white sweat pants over his jeans got on, clutching the front of the sweats, which bulged with... I had no idea. He sat down and pulled a pile of leaves and sticks, and crumpled newspaper, and a bottle of something from out the front of the pants. He spent the rest of the ride carefully wrapping the sticks and leaves in the paper, and shoving everything back into his pants.

All was well until we got to Mission and 16th.

Leon opened the doors and people got out, got on.

A tall man in a brimmed hat (what is it called? Like Gilligan wore?) and carrying a dirty blanket, started to get on the bus.

Leon stood up and shook his head. "No, you can't come on the bus, especially not with that blanket."

"I'll fold it. I gotta get to the hospital," the man whined.

"I've told you before, you can't get on this bus," Leon said.

The man angrily threw the blanket onto the street and got on the bus, sat a couple rows behind me.

Leon stood his ground. The man could not ride on the bus, not after a previous altercation.

The man continued to whine about getting to the hospital, but soon stopped whining - growing aggressive instead.

The sweat pants man looked at him. "I'll get you to the hospital," he muttered. "I'll get you there."

After some more back and forth, threats from the angry man, firm statements from Leon, the angry man resorted to the lowest of insults.

"I'll beat your ass, n____," he said. He stormed to the front of the bus, this tall, angry man towering above Leon, still threatening to hurt him.

Leon tried to calm him down. The man kept lunging at him.

"Everyone get off the bus, for your safety," Leon told us.

We started to get out. I got my phone out of my bag and got ready to call 911. Meanwhile, Leon had picked up his phone to call for help, too.

We all stood there, frozen, watching. I know some of the others were thinking the same as I was - that Leon might need witnesses if anything happened.

After a tense few moments the man got out and wandered down the sidewalk. In the opposite direction a police car was coming by. Leon leaned on the horn and got their attention.

He told the cops what was going on and they did a quick U turn, pulled up by the Victoria Theater and got out to talk to the guy. By then, we were all back in our seats.

The sweat pants man had gotten out of the bus and was now inspecting the dirty blanket discarded by the angry man.

We left the guy with the cops, who stood in front of him, pulling on their blue rubber gloves.

Leon drove to the next stop and pulled over. He turned around.
"I'm so sorry you had to witness that, everybody. Everyone okay?"
We all nodded.
He looked at a little girl and her grandma. He said, "And I'm sorry if that scared you, little one, are you all right?"
The girl nodded.
"That guy has been trouble before," he continued. "I had to call the police on him a few weeks ago."

We rolled on. When I got out, I told him I hoped he has a hassle-free day.
He laughed. "You know, so many people don't understand what we have to deal with on a daily basis." he shook his head. "You have a good day, too."

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Bus Report #976


Last week, Tuesday night, going to the PJ Harvey concert with Nell. We had a couple drinks at the Cinch and decided to take a cable car to the Masonic, because, why not?

We were the only passengers on the cable car and it felt like a private service, at least for a few blocks.

We hopped out by the venue. The gripman called out to us, "You going to a concert? What show?"
We hollered back but by then the cable car was already pulling away from us towards the top of Nob Hill.

Arriving in style. That's just how we roll.

I ran in to Jeannie several days in a row last week. Crowded 38 Geary buses, the two of us holding on for dear life, chatting about her various Muni routes from work, what books we were reading, the merits of new buses versus old buses.

Monday morning, Leon tells me he's transferring to the 45 line at the end of the month. The drivers just had a sign-up and apparently there aren't as many prime shifts on the 33 in the summertime.
"I tried to get an early afternoon, so I still get off at a good time," he said. "But I didn't get what I wanted, so, I'll be saying goodbye to you guys in a couple weeks."
"I'm sure we'll see you around," I said. "We always do."

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Bus Report #975

A girl on the 38 last night had a tote bag that read: Books Is Power

I puzzled over that for a while.

Also, when two drunk/fucked up people both get on the 38 at 9:30 at night and sit next to each other, what do you get? You get a bizarre verbal altercation that luckily did not escalate, much.

The woman I'd seen before. She wore dirty bedroom slippers and was twitchy enough to make a couple of the guys in the back of the bus shrink away from her and hold their bags close to their chests. She mumbled and slid around on the back bench, and watched everyone.

The man was a little guy, my height or shorter, with a big backpack. He slouched onto the bus and sat beside the woman, who immediately accused him of trying to touch her.

He mumbled something in Spanish and she said something back, in English, and for a moment I thought they were making some sort of deal.

A moment later, she stood up and sat near me, talking to herself, or to us, about how she was sober and she didn't need the aggravation (of what, I had no idea).

A girl sitting across from me, her school sweatshirt telling me her name was Norin L., looked up and grinned at me. I grinned back.

The woman lurched across the aisle and took an empty seat by the stairs.

The man was talking to himself now, too, in Spanish, bitching her out for an unknown slight.

And then, she turned to him and cursed at him in Spanish, and he jumped up and lunged at her. Shouting all the while, who did she think she was, she was a whore, he was going to kill her, etc.

She stood up and called him some more names. The bus stopped and she got out. He almost followed her but decided against it. Instead, he took her seat and kept talking to himself.

A man across the aisle had been watching the whole thing.
The agitated man called over to him, "You speak Spanish?"

The other man, let's call him the voice of reason, said yes.

"He was totally offending and disrespecting me," said the agitated man. No matter that he had actually been a she.

The other man told him to cut it out, and to calm down. "There was no call for that. You can't do that on the bus."

"He was offending me, he offended me, fuck off," said the agitated man.

The two of them almost came to blows - the voice of reason stood up and came right up to the agitated man, cocked his finger at him like a gun and told him he needed to cut it out or he'd get it.

Then the voice of reason acted reasonably and got out of the bus before anything happened.

The agitated man got out at Webster a few minutes later.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Bus Report #974

Yesterday evening, gorgeous thick fog blanketing everything. I slowly Muni-ed my way home from dinner (Streat Food Park) and drinks.

Was yesterday a luggage buying holiday, or something? I considered buying a new duffel bag yesterday morning. On the way home, two unrelated women on the 47 and on the 38R struggled to maneuver large, newly purchased suitcases from Ross, while a man sitting in front of me spent the whole commute searching for bags on ebags on his phone. He even watched a few videos on how to pack bags to get the most use out of them. I was bored out of my skull watching over his shoulder, so I stopped and stared out the window at the ribbons of fog floating by.

Two men discussed their tattoos - one had just gotten a new tattoo but was already planning his next one. "Just wait until my next tattoo," he teased his friend.
"You're going to get me in trouble," said the friend.

Another man - central casting new San Francisco, with his grey hoodie, his wireless ear buds and his air of entitlement - talked loudly on his phone to his friend. "The way all the California republicans voted today, man, you can bet I'm staying here." He might have meant staying here as a refuge from the rest of the country, but it was hard to tell.