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!


Blogger Robert said...

Leon deserves a medal. Being a muni driver is not easy. Leon cares for his passengers - it's not 'just a job' ...

Great post Rachael :-)

6:23 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

I agree with Robert. Despite living far from San Francisco, (I live in Hawaii) I feel as if I've personally come to know Leon, as well as the other Muni regulars that consistently warrant noting on the pages of Rachel's blog. And yes, I'm going to miss Leon as well! (Honolulu's transit drivers could use him as an example of the definition of a true professional driver) Whatever route Leon ultimately ends up on this summer, I do hope that Rachel has the good fortune to be a passenger on some of his runs, (certainly possible in a 7 mile by 7 mile city) but more importantly, come autumn and when school's back in session, I hope as well that Leon does indeed return to the routes Rachel uses.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thanks for your lovely comments, Robert and Randy! Hope you're both enjoying the weekend.
I'm sure Leon's path will cross mine again, as it has done in the past. He's a good man, we need more like him!

8:27 PM  

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