Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Stay safe out there, friends, commuters, and strangers

I've been home for a week now, like many of you but not all of you.

Thinking today of Jeannine, working at the hospital, and of our wonderful drivers: Leon, Keith, Stephan and all the rest. The essential personnel we automatically think of and those we do not.

If you can stay home, STAY HOME.

If you have any masks, hand sanitizer or other items that our local medical professionals and other front line workers could use, please donate them to your nearest hospital or fire department.

Order online from your favorite bookstores, get gift certs from your favorite restaurants, and above all remember that this is the time to be selfless, not selfish.

Remember, so many of our friends and neighbors are at risk so only go out when necessary and do your best to maintain a good 6 feet of distance from each other.

Even when we aren't together in body, we're together in spirit.

I miss you all and hope we can be together again soon.

On a more personal note - readers in Boston or Salt Lake City or Tucson - I have people that need supplies for hospital and social service organizations and can get you in touch with them if you have anything you can drop off.
realitycoursepress (at) gmail.



Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Bus Report #1064

Coronavirus edition.

The Teacher's Pet asked me yesterday how commuting is going what with this virus scare.

Well, a lot of us still need to get to work, and we need to use transit. There's no getting around it - unless I want to walk for an hour and a half, up and down hills, in the early morning dark. I've done it before, but I have no desire to arrive at work already tired, and sweaty, and done.

The buses have been quieter and, when on time, less crowded. The evening commute on the 22 Fillmore has had a holiday vibe to it. Just us workers who can't telecommute. People picking up kids from school or activities. Homeless and marginally housed folks. Your friends and neighbors.

Mornings, everyone is sleepy but watchful. Any cough, sniffle or sneeze and everyone turns, looks, evaluates. But it has been okay so far. Quieter, less anxiety-inducing than I'd expected.

You wash your hands at home before you leave, but what do you touch on the 33? The handles and the bars, to keep your balance or swing yourself into a seat. Your bus pass, pressed to the card reader. The signal buttons, the signal wire, the windows to pry them open for some air.

Your seatmate, their leg pressed against yours. Their elbow nestled against your side.

Are the buses cleaner? Supposedly everything is being wiped down, but it doesn't look like it.

Some drivers wear masks, others don't.

Everyone is just that much more wary.

The smell of hand sanitizer wafts through the bus. Fresh and lemony at best, overly fruity or floral at worst.

And while we're talking, friends - as long as you can, please go to your favorite stores, your neighborhood cafes and produce markets, your bagel place, the bookstore. The care and keeping of small businesses is often tenuous, and it certainly is now.

Bring your shut-in friends a banquet's worth of Chinese food from that awesome place down the block. Drown your sorrows in a huge bowl of steaming Pho from your regular Vietnamese joint. As they say, chicken soup is good for the soul.

Local businesses are struggling, let's all do our best to support them.

Some of our indie bookstores are offering free shipping at the moment, why not take advantage? So far, I know of Green Apple Books and Books Inc. offering to ship books to you at home. Read to yourself, read to your loved ones.

Take care out there, Fog City Noters.

Monday, March 09, 2020

Bus Report #1063

Three days of the 33 being off schedule. Me and the skater kid waiting, getting annoyed.

Jeannine joined us. I hadn't seen her in a while and unfortunately it was because she'd been out of town at a funeral.

"I'm so sorry," I said.

She thanked me. Sighed. "Guess we're going to be late today?"
With no buses in sight, I had to agree. "I think you're right."

Alain wandered over. "Ah, good morning," he said to us both. "The bus will be here in six minutes."
He gestured to his phone, to whatever app he uses for the schedule.

"Mine says five minutes," Jeannine replied, grinning.

"Mine said five minutes ago," I added.

Another five minutes before the bus arrived, so Jeannine and Alain were both right, I supposed.

On the bus, the mom with the two sons was trying to calm the little boy (who was whining and flopping around on the seat) while she took a phone call. She mouthed a "good morning" to me as I went to sit down.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Bus Report #1062

Waited at the bus stop for a bus that wasn't coming. The skateboard kid and I had been there for ten minutes already.
"This is weak," he said, and then he made a phone call and skated away.

The Frenchman walked over, fresh from his shower. His hair was still wet and he smelled minty.
"You must be late," I said.
He shook his head. "Maybe, or maybe you are."
We caught up for a moment, discussed his trip to Southern California.
Across the street, a familiar figure smiled and waved. It was Olga. I haven't seen her in forever and I was beyond glad to see she was up and about, well coiffed and dressed as always.

Even though she was leaning heavily on her cane, she hurried over and greeted us.
She said good morning to me in Russian, then in English, and I responded in Russian as she'd taught me. The Frenchman just laughed.

Olga patted my arm, and I patted hers, told her it was great to see her.
She pointed to the large brooch on my coat, in the shape of a bug, that I wear sometimes.
"I like," she said, touching the enameled metal with her finger.

The three of us wondered where the bus was. And then Olga gestured up the block. "Three three," she said. I couldn't see anything and neither could Alain.

But, as always, Olga was right. The bus soon arrived and we all climbed in.
I patted her shoulder again as I went to sit down.
"Do svedanya," she said.