Friday, January 18, 2019

Bus Report #1022

I left the office a few minutes later than normal last night. As I turned the corner onto 17th, I saw my usual afternoon driver - I call him Kevin but that's not his name - and my usual bus.
I waved, figured I'd catch the next one.
But Kevin stopped the bus and gestured for me to hurry and get in.
I jogged across the street and got on, thanked him profusely.

At Hayes I caught sight of the tree that had come down the other night in the storm, huge limbs torn off and everything still piled in the street, covered with caution tape.

Down the hill by the church at McAllister, another tree hanging heavily over the church fence.
Those ficus trees, they do not do well in bad weather.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Bus Report #1021

Rain.
And lots of it.
I've learned a few things this week: My trusty old Dr. Marten boots are perfect rain boots if I wear wool socks in them, my umbrella is actually decent, and I love how dark the sky gets just before the rain comes.
I've also learned how generous some people can be. The other night I didn't have the umbrella with me and I crowded into the Fillmore and Geary bus shelter with a handful of other folks. A woman looking at the NextBus console had a bright yellow umbrella and she automatically shifted it so it covered us both.
A few minutes later, the water was fast collecting in a couple potholes right at the edge of the sidewalk. I moved to stand by the Boom Boom Room mural to avoid getting splashed. I'd have been fine in the rain for the few minutes before the bus arrived, but a smiling woman in a bad sheitel beckoned me over to stand under her umbrella with her. I told myself to be nice but it was a very bad wig and I had to force myself to stop staring at it.

Yesterday I was woken up by that 4:40 in the morning earthquake.
Couldn't get back to sleep and ended up just laying awake until my alarm went off.
NextBus wasn't showing Tasha's bus so I lingered over my tea, until suddenly her bus was on schedule, in 18 minutes. I threw on my coat and grabbed my bag, slamming my lunch container against the wall as I went out (sorry, neighbors!).

Hustling down Clement I ran in to neighbor Joan, and we greeted each other and stopped a moment to catch up. I resigned myself to missing the bus but what can you do? I'll take the human connection over the early bus any day. We talked about our holiday breaks and her klepto sister in law.

She headed to the donut shop and I walked to the bus stop. Figured I'd missed Tasha's bus but that Annie would be along shortly.

A moment later, Tasha pulled up.

"I thought I'd missed you," I told her.
"Nah," she said. "That earthquake this morning messed with everyone's schedules, cause of BART."
It made sense. If you drive for Muni but take BART to get to work, you're waiting around for BART to finish post-earthquake inspections before you can even start getting into San Francisco.

This morning, another earthquake. I thought my fridge was doing a death rattle, but nope.
Waiting for the bus with Olga, the two of us pantomiming earthquakes and last night's rainstorm.
The bus came into view. I can never read the display but her eyes are sharp.
"The three three," she said, pointing at the bus.
I squinted. "Are you sure?"
"Yes, three three," she replied.

We greeted Tasha and I went to sit down.
At the next stop Olga got out, as usual. I said goodbye to her in Russian as she'd taught me, and she smiled.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Bus Report #1020

And just like that, it is a new year.

I bussed around town quite a bit over the holiday break, the city looking and feeling very different than it does at 7 AM or at 5 PM. Less people on board, more people queuing up at bakeries. I took the 33 the length of the entire route (just about), while I checked in on the L. household pets a few days around Christmas.

I walked back to the bus the long way, cutting through the heart of the Mission to catch it up near Valencia. Bought plantains along 24th Street. Stopped in a cafe for a while, to re-read M Train by Patti Smith. There's nothing like being the only reader in a cafe of laptops. Of tearing up on page ten, needing to compose yourself, and then getting right back to business.
Thank you for your words, and happy belated birthday, Patti.

One afternoon a very volatile woman was yelling at a sweet family because she didn't think their toddler was safe in her stroller. The little girl was fine, her family was baffled but polite, and the woman just kept yelling. Everyone on the bus got involved. Either yelling for the woman to sit down or get off the bus, or lamenting the lack of civility on public transit. I said nothing but was ready to spring into action if necessary.
A homeless couple sat near the family and they chatted and smiled with the kids to help defuse the tension. When they got out at Castro with their backpacks and walking sticks, the family waved good bye and the little girl called out, "Bye! Bye! Bye!"
The woman, by that time mumbling about something else, got out a block later. The little girl waved good bye to her, too.

New Year's Eve, headed down to Nob Hill for dinner with S. and C. The man sitting in front of me was beautiful and stylish. Light green hat with matching Chucks and a dark-wash denim jacket with complicated-looking pleating on the back and shoulders.

Twice I ran in to Axe body spray guy - he spotted me from a block away on Clement Street both times, waved with both arms, smiled widely. Merry Christmas, he said the first time. Happy New Year, the second time. I wished him the same and grinned right on back.

This morning I waited for the bus with Olga. We exchanged our trilingual pleasantries (she slips into French sometimes) and she taught me - or rather, attempted - to teach me how to say "It's cold" in Russian. I think I need more lessons.