Friday, October 25, 2019

Bus Report #1047

Two days in a row, sweet Olga on my bus.

Yesterday she arrived at the bus stop, wincing and pressing her hand to the small of her back.
"Oh no, did you hurt your back?" I asked her.
She shook her head. "Is no good," she said.
The bus was still far enough away that I couldn't read the signage, but Olga nodded and said, "Is three three."
"I don't know how you can see that, I can't see anything." I shook my head and waved my hands near my eyes. Rachel sign language for, I can't see anything, these things barely work.
She just grinned. "Is three three, you see now?"
And I did.

This morning Olga and I waited together for the bus, which was a couple minutes late.
I think she was trying to teach me some French but I didn't understand.
"No English," she said.
"No French, no Russian," I said.
We laughed and stood there together, and waited.

Yesterday afternoon, 22 Fillmore. The nice driver who used to be our delivery guy stopped and I got on. the bus was fairly empty for that time of the evening - but no one was complaining.

At Potrero Center a man got on carrying a dog bed and a huge bag from the store. As we rode down 16th I watched him take everything out of the bag and go through it on the seat beside him.
They were really cute little outfits - rompers and something with a hood and bunny ears, and a little yellow rain slicker. For his child? No, I realized a moment later. They were dog outfits. He was carefully going through about ten dog outfits in various sizes.
I couldn't figure it out. Were they for him, and his dogs? Dogs of a friend? How many outfits does a dog need?
At Mission Street he packed everything back up, and disappeared into the plaza and down into BART.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Bus Report #1046

Assuming the worst (late bus) I lingered over my tea this morning, the NextBus web page refreshing itself on my laptop nearby. I was planning for the late bus so when NextBus told me my regular bus was actually on the schedule, I gulped the tea, grabbed my bag and crammed my feet into my shoes.

I was out the door and most of the way down the block in a minute.

Clement street was dark, and damp, a peachy pink sunrise coming up over the buildings down in Laurel Heights.

At the bus stop I caught up with the woman from St. Mary's and with Alain, who decided not to take his bike to work today.
He'd been planning to make bagels a couple weeks ago. I asked how it went.
"They were... how do you say it? Too thin? And you were right, you have to boil them before you bake."
"But were they good?" I asked.
"Very good."

When the bus arrived it was already crowded. The woman who drinks that awful, awful garlic tea sat in her usual spot, steaming Thermos of tea in front of her.

We sped through the neighborhood, coasted down Haight Street. Did everyone else sleep in this morning? When will it be my turn?

Regulars hopped on, and other folks - a shuffling old man in dirty clothes, who slumped into the seat across from me. Another man, in a dusty sweatshirt, his haircut uneven, sat in front of me for most of the ride.

No sign of the giant genie, none of the sewing ladies who usually get on at Mission.

The dueling tamale sellers* on Mission Street sold their tamales, the woman surrounded by day laborers and kids on their way to school. The man sells Nicaraguan tamales, nacatamales, and one of these days I plan to get one from him. Love those. For every three customers the woman has, he has just one.

*I've never actually seen any dueling, but they station themselves about 6 feet apart on the sidewalk, so they could start at any moment...

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Bus Report #1045

This morning I got to the bus stop early. No one else was waiting. The street was quiet and still dark, the light only just starting to filter in over the tops of the middle school across the street.

The boy on the skateboard zoomed over. I used to think he lived in the apartment with the wetsuit landing, but he actually lives two doors down. He nodded at me in acknowledgement, our usual morning greeting.
He sat on the bench and we both watched another man pick up a sodden, discarded vest, try it on, and then repeat the process with a ratty wet sweatshirt. The last clothing item in the pile was a pair of khakis.
I am not the praying type but I bargained with the universe to keep him from trying on the pants. Someone, or something, heard my plea.

A moment later, someone on a bike whizzed around the corner. It was the Frenchman.
Alain smiled and waved and kept on riding. Good for him, I thought. He probably got to work before my bus even left its departure point.

Much later, after work, I walked to catch the 22. On the corner the staff from our neighborhood greasy spoon were gathered outside. I thought they were just chatting when I saw what had drawn them out - a tree had come down right outside the restaurant, hitting the owner's truck before falling diagonally into the street.

"When did that happen?" I asked.
Nasser just shook his head. "It just came down a little while ago. I can't believe it."
"Jeez, good luck," I said.
The bus rounded the corner. Ah well, I'd catch the next one.
But then the driver stopped, and honked, leaned out the window and gestured for me to get on board.
Three cheers for wonderful drivers! It was the man who used to be our delivery guy.
I said goodbye to the restaurant guys and hurried across the street.
On the bus everyone was looking at the downed tree.
"Check it out," said a scruffy guy with blond hair and filthy jeans.
"Right?" I made my way to the back of the bus and sat down.

The bus was quiet, everyone on their phones or listening to music. A couple got on, holding a bag between them. The bag moved. I looked closer: a little grey cat looked out through the mesh side of the bag. Meowed.

Bus Report #1044

Three days in a row waiting for the 33 with the woman who works at St. Mary's. We spend half the time wondering if the bus is late or if the bus apps are wrong, the other half of the time chatting about traveling.

"Have you seen that foreign guy?" she asked yesterday.
"Not in a while," I replied.

Just as the bus pulled up, Olga tottered across the street, leaning on her cane.
"Right on time," I said, grinning. She smiled back and climbed on board.

The mom with the sweet sons was already seated with the kids, the little boy nestled against her side. Sitting still, smiling and staring off into the distance. The older boy chugged from his water bottle and played with his mother's phone.