Friday, August 24, 2018

Bus Report #1007

It's the time of year when Muni just sucks the life out of me.
Slow commutes. Missing runs.
How is it that back to school time just makes everything crazier? School was only out for a little over 2 months, wasn't it? Surely people haven't really forgotten how to take a bus?
But they have.

A man standing in the doorway with a rolled up futon.
Kid on his phone, refusing to acknowledge the woman with the newborn baby in a sling on her chest, who could use the seat more than he could.
And new folks with huge backpacks, and pushy women who work somewhere near me, who, even if I have my foot on the step to get on the bus try to slide in before me. Insanity, really.
Monday I sit in the only open seat, next to an enormous man who takes up a good half of my seat.
The rest of the ride, I get hit in the back and shoulder by everyone getting on or off, and by backpacks, swinging purses, and a pair of hard hats.

But, still.
Friendly and professional drivers. Regulars with a sense of humor. Beautiful people of all stripes. Sweet teens with new jeans and fresh haircuts. The three construction guys who didn't know which bus to take last night to get to BART, with their bashful smiles as I helped them out.

Annie yesterday, her last day as my morning driver, unless I'm running late, of course.
"I'll be on the next run," she said. "So when you're late, I'll see you."
I gave her a coffee card and thanked her, said I'd see her around.

The mom with the middle school son and the beautiful, autistic little boy, the three of them back on the 33 in the mornings. Mom and older son smile and say good morning. The little guy just stares, his gorgeous big brown eyes see right through me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Bus Report #1006

Annie was my driver this morning, first time in almost a week.
"Where were you last week?" she asked as I got on. "I kept stopping and being like, where is that girl?"
I laughed. "I know, I think I was catching the earlier bus? Or the later? It was weird. Different people and all. It was confusing."
"Oh, man. Yeah. Just when you start to get used to the other passengers."
We laughed some more, and I sat down.
She waited for the elderly woman with a cane who usually just takes the bus one stop. It doesn't bother me. Sweet older woman. Always friendly.

Giant genie, folded into the seat across from me. His legs have got to be twice the length of mine, I swear. Coffee, Splenda, lotion. And repeat.

I got out at Bryant, did a Safeway and bagel run. Homeless men fighting in the parking lot, shoving over-full grocery carts at each other. One man did a strange little bow-legged jig. Everyone in the plaza watched but kept their distance. Someone went to get one of the Safeway security guards.

Minutes later, crossing the street, there was a 22 Fillmore bus parked at an odd angle in the crosswalk, empty of passengers, the driver obscured behind the back of the bus as he pulled down the overhead wires.
While I waited for the light at Potrero I saw the right-hand side of  the bus: the front door window panel was smashed, a web of glass. An Examiner newspaper box lay on its side in the street. Had someone thrown the box at the bus? My vote was one, or both, of the men who had just been fighting in the parking lot.

The driver came around front. It was Leon. He was preoccupied, his mouth set in a thin line, not his usual smile, or I'd have said hi. He got back on the bus and fiddled with the door a moment, before turning the bus around the corner and heading, I assume, to the yard.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Bus Report #1005

Was I early for the bus this morning or was the bus late? The jury is still out.

A woman ran for the bus at Arguello. She dumped her stuff into one of the double seats and proceeded to spray some kind of noxious smelling body spray (or was it hand sanitizer?) everywhere.
I coughed, opened the windows near my seat.
She got out at Hayes.
Really, lady? You can't wait to... what? Over spray yourself? Disinfect? Until you get to work? Awesome. Really.

It was the first day of school for San Francisco kids. Lots of new outfits and backpacks, moms and dads walking with their kindergartners. Sweet. The older kids walked in twos and threes, caught up with each other after the summer break.

This afternoon on the bus, two middle school boys spent the duration of their ride flipping through their homework packets and sharing handouts. They even twirled their pencils - I didn't even know kids still used pencils. The boys looked excited. I hope they stay that way.

Mission and 16th, the usual bunch of folks hanging out in the plaza. I caught sight of the extra large, fat, Jeremy Novy Koi fish stenciled on the sidewalk. I love his happy, colorful fish.

On the bus for a few blocks, a little girl I often see with her mom, little brother and little sister. She wore a huge new backpack featuring a Disney princess. She was bubbly, animated. When they got out to go pick up the little sister, I saw that she'd put on a headband - a pink, white and gold unicorn horn.

Crowded 38R. Lots of people on their phones. Inexplicably, the heat was on. I opened the windows and turned up the volume on my headphones. Have you heard Dessa yet? I highly recommend her.

I got out at Arguello and Geary. Back in the fog and the mist. Ahhh. My favorite. I buttoned my coat and slipped my sunglasses into my pocket. Walked the rest of the way home. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Bus Report #1004

Two mornings in a row I've caught the slightly earlier bus, so I've been riding with the Axe body spray guy, the unfriendly Russian woman (still Skyping her son, loudly, with random people in the background), and a handful of other semi-regulars.

There's a man who catches the bus every morning, homeless, maybe?, with a huge backpack and a stained leather jacket. I've seen him panhandling out front the Taco Bell a few times. Can't figure him out, not that he needs me to. He was quiet today, not aggressively barking into his phone as he often does.

The sky was a cloudy peach-orange-black color for a few minutes, then turned as orange as a needle cap, and then it was blue-white-yellow, the sun as pale as I've ever seen it.

It must be school season again, because the giant genie is back! Just as tall and bald and bearded as ever. Tanned. I wonder if my happy smile scared him as he slid in to a seat across the aisle from me. I can't help it. Love the giant genie. Love his morning routine. His balms and lotions and combs. His travel cup and his Splenda packets.

Watched today's driver alight from his seat and lean out the door to press the button to change the traffic lights up on Market and Clayton, then turn and sit back down. It was balletic, the way he turned and twisted stretched his arm into the lean, stepped back up into his seat.

Dolores Park, picked up a couple of grungy, wild-eyed guys. One of them struggled for several minutes to put his tiny bike on the bike rack. When he finally got on, he lumbered towards the back of the bus, his blue eyes bloodshot, every part of his body twitching.

There's a young woman who gets on at Mission some mornings, who works at McDonald's, according to her T-shirt. She's sweet. Always says good morning, smiley. She ran for the bus and caught it at the last minute. As she hurried in and took her usual seat across from me I grinned and said, "You just made it."
She nodded and grinned back. I hope she has a good day. She works at the Potrero McDonald's. That's a busy one, and a crazy one. How do I know? Crazy Tom used to be their locksmith, and Tom, well... he's a character. And if he says something is crazy out of control, I believe him.

At the garage, no sign of my friend Frank but his coworker - let's call him Aaron - was there. We said hi as we always do. A friendly man with a friendly smile. Pretty eyes.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Bus Report #1003

For the foreseeable future (probably until May!) the 33 is running regular buses instead of the electric buses. Easier and faster for the drivers, I suspect, but definitely taking some getting used to for us riders. The bus sounds different: no whoosh of hydraulics or whine of... well, I'm not sure. Also, the windows don't open as widely as they do on the other buses. Important when stinky folks get on the bus.

And the buses are configured differently. Different seats, and the short flight of stairs in the back.
I can still cram in to a corner seat, so I'm happy.
Some regulars have been unsure how to get the back doors to open. I watched one man stand right up against the door, so that his nose was almost touching it. But he didn't reach out for the yellow tape that says, in big letters, "touch here to open door".
Annie opened the door for him but he didn't acknowledge her, just shuffled off.

I can't tell if this is standard for all drivers or just Annie-specific, but at the corner of Market and Clayton before the turn, she has to lean out of the front door and press the button to get the light to change.

This morning a woman got on with her very cute puppy - a yellow lab. The little guy wasn't used to bus travel yet, and he was sliding across the floor while trying to stay perfectly still. Cutie.
Then I noticed that the woman was carrying a plastic bag full of dog shit.
On the bus.
Never mind the trash can in the bus stop where she had gotten on.

They got out in the Castro (puppy so frightened he couldn't move and she had to pick him up).

At least she took the bag with her.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Bus Report #1002

This morning on the 33:

A man with an unexpected tramp stamp (or, at best, poorly placed very spiritually important to him tattoo) who sat down in front of me, his shirt riding up, his jeans riding down to display his ink.

Good, good, white-grey fog on the hill before the hairpin turn.

The cat that lounges in a window on 18th most mornings, surveying his kingdom.

I got out at Potrero to get a bagel, and as I crossed back to head to work, there was a 22 Fillmore bus, with a smiling Leon waving and honking.

I hopped on and we chatted a bit. He's doing well. Smiley and friendly as always. Other passengers greeting him by name, waving too.

At the next stop, a man I know from my building sat down across from me, with his little dog. I see this man every afternoon waiting for the bus, but he has never said hi before - not even once. Today, though, he smiled and we talked about, what else? the dogs in our building. He knows all the different dogs, and their breeds, of course. Whereas I'm all about the people. As you can imagine.

Leon turned around and asked me if I wanted to get out at the next stop, and I realized it has been a long time since we first met - that stop was my old stop, many years ago. I shook my head.

"I'll take the next one, though, I want to walk a little."

At the next stop, I said goodbye to Leon and to my building-mate, and I walked the rest of the way to work.