Friday, February 21, 2020

Bus Report #1061

This morning I walked down Clement to the bus and watched the obsessively religious mom and her daughter walking slowly down the street ahead of me.

It was early. Too early for the daughter to be going to school. She had her backpack on, and the mom carried three bulging tote bags. I hoped the mom was just being weird, that they still have a place to live and were only out early to get some breakfast.

I worry about them, especially about that little girl. You know I have for a while. There's nothing wrong with religious conviction but there is something wrong with the mom. It is sad. She mutters to herself, only seems to talk to her daughter in scripture or verses.

I was a half a block behind them for a while. Wondered if there was anything I could do to help them. But I don't even know their names, so really, there's nothing.
That little girl.
Oh, how I worry.

Even when I'm not in a rush, I'm a fast walker. I eventually caught up to them, smiled and nodded good morning, and kept walking.

The mom didn't acknowledge me at all, just kept talking to her daughter about Jesus. Her daughter nodded and said yes, and looked up at her mom.

I don't pray, but this morning I thought about the daughter. And now, the day almost over, I'm still thinking of her.

The bus was on time. The mom with the two sons, the humorless man who works near my office, and a handful of homeless men with their dogs were my fellow passengers this morning. The ride was uneventful, quicker than usual.

As we turned onto Market way up high on the hill, the lights of lower Market blazed bright.
A string of beads that twinkled in the early morning still-darkness.

The sky was blue-peach. A sign of warmer weather.

In Potrero I waved to the guys at the garage.

To Leon, headed outbound in his bus and to Keith headed inbound in his.

The quiet man who sleeps in the park shuffled down the sidewalk carrying a cardboard box in his arms.
He's looking thin these days. More out of it than usual. I hope he is okay.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Bus Report #1060

This morning I walked down to catch the bus even though the schedule seemed a bit off. I figured better safe than sorry.

By the grocery store there was a stack of pallets holding cases of oranges and onions. Have you looked at any produce box labels lately? They are still cool, interesting graphics and catchy names for the different brands and produce items.

The kid on the skateboard who I see most mornings sped by, nodded at me.
The door to the wet suit landing was open, for the first time in a while.

No one waiting at the bus stop except me and a woman who always stinks of cigarettes. I don't think she washes her jacket, and whenever she moves even slightly, a wave of stale smoke emanates from her clothes. She stood a few feet away, smoking, and I knew I'd have to open the windows when we got on the bus.

The 33 was late. Very late. I have a feeling my usual driver and the driver before him both missed their runs, as our bus was packed by the time we hit Fulton.

My seatmate had a tumbler full of coffee that smelled both burned and also weak, watery. She balanced it between her thighs so she could take a couple selfies.

I decided if she spilled the coffee down my leg, and if it was hot and burned me, she'd get a hard punch in the face. Nothing happened, and I mellowed out before we got to the Haight.

The mom with the two sons was there, as were the Mission High kids, and several women with septum piercings. A lot of them, actually. Maybe 15% of the women on the bus. Strange.

In the Castro, I watched a man jump up on the bus shelter seat and start patting the supports of the shelter. Had he hidden something somewhere and was he now looking for it? Hard to say.
We picked up a handful of more passengers and continued on our way.

When we got to my stop, a dozen of us streamed off the bus and crossed the street.
I slowed my pace to say hi to the guys at the garage, then walked the rest of the way to work. It was sunny by then, and my sunglasses didn't feel dark enough.

I blinked my way down 16th Street.

Bus Report #1059

Last night I went to Third Rail with the Teacher's Pet, to catch up.
Afterwards we caught the 22 at its first/last stop, across the street from what looks like an Amazon distribution center. At least 15 other people waiting for the bus, more than I've seen at that stop in quite a while.

Our driver? Stephan. He'd been getting some air and stretching his legs while enjoying a snack, but when he came around the side of the bus and let everyone on, he grinned at me and said, "Haven't seen you in a while."
"They changed your schedule, right?" I said.
"Not til next week," he said.
The Teacher's Pet and I rode together until we got to her stop.

I said good night and we waved. I slid over in my seat, put on my headphones and settled in for the rest of  the ride.

The bus was full for most of the ride, people crowding on at Mission and slowly filtering out.

A man and a woman, old friends, hadn't seen each other in forever and greeted each other with open arms and wide smiles. They chatted their whole commute, until he got out at Haight. He invited her to dinner and she said yes, and they wandered down the street.

A young man dragged his shopping bag, a skateboard and a child-size piano onto the bus. Picture the kind of 'classic-looking' tiny baby grand piano a dog might play on a talent show. He piled everything up on a seat and stood over it all until his stop. Then, he tossed the skateboard out the back door, followed by the shopping bag, and then finally shouldered the small piano and headed out.
We all watched him. I wondered about that piano.
For a child? For a dog? For him? And does it need to be tuned?

The 22 slid in to my stop and I got out, called a "see you later" to Stephan. He waved and said, "see you."

The 38 wasn't due for 15 minutes so I caught the 38R. I was home soon thereafter.

Bus Report #1058

Early morning, Valentine's Day.

Clement Street was quiet and dark, except.

Except at the florist's, the lights blazing, the window display crammed with the usual orchids and dozens of bouquets of roses and tulips and lilies.
The entirety of the Flower Mart stuffed into a Clement Street shop window.

The shop is usually closed in the mornings unless the owner is preparing funeral arrangements (always beautiful, if sad), graduation leis (always beautiful, and full of promise), or, as he was doing the other day, large and colorful bouquets. It made the morning feel brighter, special.

One man, one small storefront, but those flowers. More color than the eye can handle at 6:45 AM.

On the bus, just me and the mom with the two sons and some sleepy Mission High School kids.

Later, riding home, a girl holding just one deep red rose, careful not to squish it amidst the crush of evening commuters.

At the stop just before mine, a familiar person shuffles on. My heart grows three sizes; it is Mr. Taylor, the world's oldest school crossing guard. Still alive! Still taking the bus! Slower, of course, and using a walker. No crossing guard vest so perhaps he is retired. But the same intense eyes, the same lovely smile.

As I disembark and head to catch the 38, I call out to Stephan to have a good weekend. He smiles, waves back, and takes off.