Monday, July 30, 2018

Bus Report #1001

It feels good to be back, friends!

This weekend the Chron reported that Muni is one of the worst metro systems in the country.
While I'm not surprised (missed runs each day, broken buses/trains, crime, crime, crime), I still find a lot to love about our temperamental, often cranky transit system.

We have the historic F Market trains, which are beautiful. They showcase the amazing craftsmanship that our Market Street Railway puts in to them. Who can be in a bad mood on one of the Milan cars, or the Streetcar Named Desire?

Humanity. People helping each other on or off the bus, tough dudes melting at the antics of little kids, people genuinely surprising me even when I think I've seen it all.

We have some of the friendliest folks operating our Muni vehicles. Sure, no everyone can be a Stacey or a Leon, but we have enough of them that it makes riding Muni a real joy (some of the time).

The people watching - so much material for my fiction, so little time.

This Saturday I met up with Michael, the delightful photographer and essayist behind the Civic Center blog. We went to SFMOMA to see the Susan Meiselas exhibit as well as to see Magritte again. My favorite Rufino Tamayo painting, The Window, must be on loan, but I'm working through my separation anxiety.

Meiselas' Nicaragua and El Salvador photos punched me in the gut. I've been to so many of those places, and at least in Nicaragua, so many of them are now under attack again, all these years later.

Afterward, we joined his other half for a jaunt down to SPARK Social food truck park.
It was a clear, blue-sky day so the walk was pleasant. Man, though, is the new Mission Bay neighborhood strange. So empty, but so new and shiny. It even looks like we're getting a mini-golf park. Talk about fun.
We skirted the bay and the ballpark. Michael took a great photo of a man we thought was praying to the Willie McCovey statue.
A car rally showcased some really sweet vintage cars. Grown up guys on tricked out bicycles rode around the Embarcadero. Entire families wandered around wearing matching Giants merch. A lone accordion player sat along the wall, noodling around on his accordion for tips. We ended up at Red's for beers. A beautiful San Francisco afternoon.

Heading home, Michael and I opted to hop on an E Embarcadero streetcar. Waiting at the bus stop was a very enthusiastic young man, a volunteer for Market Street Railway.
"It's the last run of the day for the Melbourne Australia car," he said. "Down to the wharf and then up to the yard at Balboa Park." He mentioned the car number, but there are two Melbourne cars in our fleet and I'll be damned if I get it wrong, so I'm not going to go there.

Michael and I exchanged glances. This guy was a trainspotter extraordinaire. I loved it. His volunteer gig suited him perfectly. He got to geek out on historic streetcars all day, and talk to people about them, and other than being a tad over enthusiastic, it was great. I told him about my birthday charter of Car No. 1, and he was impressed.

We did end up moving from his side of the car to the other side, though, for some peace and quiet.

At the California Street cable car turn around, we got on a 21 Hayes. I rode a few blocks with Michael and then switched to a 38, where a little boy tried to convince his dad they should catch a 38R instead.

Thanks for the fun afternoon, Michael (and Tony)!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Bus Report #1000 🍻🍸

I had been holding off on posting my 1,000th post, hoping for something amazing to happen, or for me to get my act together and plan an event for us all to meet up and celebrate.
Hasn't happened yet, so I decided to go ahead and keep posting anyway (with a healthy dose of peer pressure from Doctor J. and from Michael!)

We can have a party another time! I will let you all know.

Meanwhile, thanks for the support, friendship and comments over the past decade plus. It means a lot!

Let's get back to business.

After the last Muni operator sign up, all my drivers took different routes.

Sergei (I don't think I'd ever named him before, but he was my early morning 33 driver after Andres, the friendly yet unsmiling gentleman) took an early morning 22 route, so I see him every now and again when I'm walking to work.

Leon ended up on the 22 again, as well. A few weeks ago I was walking to Safeway after getting off the 33, and a 22 Fillmore bus pulled up near me, the driver honking and honking until I looked up and took off my headphones. It was Leon!
He stopped the bus and opened the door, and I hopped on to say hello. He stood up and gave me a hug, a quick kiss on the cheek. We chatted for a moment, just long enough for him to take on a couple passengers, and then we said goodbye and went on our way. It was great to see him.

My new early morning driver is a friendly woman, serious about her job, but always smiling. Let's give her a good name. Let's call her... Annie.

Annie is almost always on time. The first week of her shift, though, she was late by different amounts of time each day. The Thursday of that first week she told me she hated getting stuck behind 1 California buses.

"It knocks at least 6 minutes off my time," she said. "Then I have to make it up later."
I commiserated. That's got to be tough.
This morning she was about five minutes behind schedule. When she did pull up, she smiled and then shook her head, rolled her eyes.
"My first bus was messed up and needed to go out of service," she said by way of apology.
No apology needed, Annie. I get it.
"At least you found out before you left the yard," I replied.
"Hold on," she said, and we flew down Arguello street, into the fog.
It was beautiful, thick grey fog this morning. Dark and cozy all through the Haight. When we climbed the hill the fog was bright white.
At the hairpin turn, the city was completely obscured.
My favorite weather.