Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Bus Report #1053

Monday morning I waited at the bus stop with Jeannine.
"Haven't seen you in a while," she said. And then, teasing, "Where's your scarf?"
I laughed. "Don't need it today, but I've been wearing it, I promise."
She went on. "It's been since Thanksgiving, hasn't it? And I haven't seen the old lady or the French guy, either." She paused. "I don't think I even know his name."
"Me, either," I said. Didn't tell her that we here at FCN call him Alain.
She said, "And you know what? I don't know your name, either. I'm ____."
I said, "Hi, ____, I'm Rachel."
"I just used to call you the lady with the curly hair," she told me.
Fair is fair. I said, "And I called you the lady in the scrubs."

Just then the bus pulled up.
We said goodbye, wished each other a good day. By name. For the first, but not the last, time.

Last night I caught the 22 at a different stop, after dropping off some mail up the hill at Post & Parcel.
Stephan pulled the bus into the stop, saw me, and grinned.
"What are you doing here?" he asked.
"Just keeping you on your toes," I replied.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Bus Report #1052

Yesterday morning I walked down to the bus stop in the early morning dark.
It was deliciously foggy and charcoal grey out. My weather.

Near one of our local cafes, a man sat on a bench, a few bulging tote bags nearby.
He said hello and gestured for me to stop.
It was early, I was alone, and I was in a bit of a time crunch.
I didn't want to stop, but I did.

"Miss," he said. "Can you do me a favor?"
He asked me to call 911 for him.
He didn't look ill, but when he raised his arm to gesture to me I could see he was wearing a hospital bracelet. He didn't ask that I stay, just that I call.
Better safe than sorry, I thought, so I called as I walked.
The dispatcher took my name, and the vague info I had about the man.
"I'm sorry," I said. "I don't know anything else, but he's still sitting on the bench."
As I walked the rest of the way, I saw a couple police cars gliding down the street. I hope at least one of them went to go see what the man needed.

Last night, on my way to meet S. at the Castro, the 22 was late, and already full when it arrived at my stop.
No matter. I moved to the back of the bus and settled in, listening to music as I held on to the plastic hanging strap. The man sitting in front of me offered his seat, but it wasn't necessary.
I thanked him. We kept going.

A few stops later, a handful of people got in, including one man who was wheezing, coughing, and generally not doing well. This is actually an understatement. There was something very wrong with him.
He pushed his way to the back, strings of saliva and snot all over his face and collar. His shirt was soaked. His clothes were dirty and his hands were covered in blue dye. He needed a seat and three people stood to give him room.
He sat down, heavily, and proceeded to cough loudly - an oddly staccato-sounding cough. But also what someone would call a 'productive, wet' cough. Ugggh.

It was gross. He was gross. Really, he should've been in the hospital. But what can you do.

People tried to give him a wide berth, impossible on such a crowded bus.

At Mission and 16th, most people got out. The rest of us in the back shuffled around, taking seats, until the sick man got up and moved back even further. We stood up. We turned away.

At my stop I got out, waited to cross the street. Stephan leaned out the window. "Why are you getting out here?" he asked.
I smiled. "Going to meet my friend," I said. "See you tomorrow."

I'm not proud of ignoring the sick man. I should have gotten up and gone to the front of the bus and told Stephan, and Stephan should've called an ambulance for the man. There's no excuse.

I hope the man got where he was going okay last night.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Bus Report #1051

Several damp days in a row, bundled in my coat and the scarf from Olga.
It is worth it, though, when she sees me wearing the scarf. She nods, smiles, points.
"Is good. You not cold," she says.

This morning neither of us could remember what day it was.
"Is today Tuesday?" Olga asked as we waited for the 33 this morning.
I thought about it for a moment. "Yes," I said. "Yes, I think it is."
Then the bus appeared around the corner.
"Is three three," Olga said, nodding. "Not trolley bus."
And as always, she was right.

It is that most lovely time of year, when the cable cars are garlanded, dogs on Muni are wearing festive sweaters, and this Jewish lady can just sit back and watch it all. I like the lights and the trees, the coziness of a damp and foggy day.