Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Bus Report #1078

 And I'm back, on the 33 more regularly in the mornings, the 22 and the 38/38L in the afternoons.

Two weeks short of two years and it is almost as though no time has passed at all.

Mornings I walk down to catch the 33, past homeless people sleeping in Clement Street doorways, past the woman I always worry about, washing her feet in the gutter while yelling at people who are not there.

At Schubert's I joke with the delivery guys - two lovely, friendly, smiling men who alternate weeks delivering all the good stuff - butter, cream, flour. 

"It's been a while," I say to one of them, grinning, and he stops loading his dolley to stare and smile back.

"How the hell are you?" he asks.

"Better for seeing you," I reply.

In Potrero, I visit George at the garage - a little older, a little slimmer. He grins, says, "It's good to see you, kiddo." 

Clement Street, mid-afternoon, M. and I almost pass each other on the sidewalk. We both stop, turn, exclaim, "HEY!" and then hug and catch up as though we see each other every day, no two year gap at all.

And then yesterday, waiting for the 38 at Geary, headphones on, too warm in my winter coat.

"Is that a 3 or a b?" asks a woman standing nearby. I look at the Next Bus display and say, "A 3, I think?"

And then I realize I'm talking to Jeannie, who I haven't seen in just over two years. 

We smile, tell each other we almost didn't recognize the other, then catch up on everything. She's okay, I'm okay. We ride out to the avenues together, talking about summer plans.

At the grocery store I run in to J., who used to make me decaf coffee at our local diner some mornings. He's working elsewhere now - can't blame him, since the diner's still closed - but he's happy. He tells me of his new jobs, his long weekends off. "Considering the pandemic, everything is really good," he says.

And then he tells me the diner will be open again soon, though he's too busy to go back. That's okay. I tell him I'll see him around, that I'm glad things are going so well for him.

I walk home, waving at the guys stocking fruit at the corner market, friends bent over wheels at the art studio. 

It's good to be back.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Bus Report #1077

 I waited for the 33 this morning, in the dark. 

Just as the bus came into view, a woman sprinted to the corner and looked like she was going to try to get across the street before the bus arrived.

I called out, "stop, don't," in case she hadn't seen it, but luckily she was only running to make the 33.

"I was thinking I'd have to knock you to safety," I told her.

"I just needed to make this bus," she replied, breathing hard.

"I'd have held it for you," I said.

We got in and settled into our seats.

There were more commuters today, still just a handful the entire ride.

At Bryant the woman disembarked, waving to me as she went.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Bus Report #1076

 A weekend on Muni, going hither, thither.

First I met up with Michael to walk around Hayes Valley and order new glasses.

I took the 38 down to Van Ness and walked the rest of the way to meet up. Encampments up and down Van Ness and most alleys, trash clogging the storm drains. 

Weird juxtaposition with the new, strange sculptures in the median of Van Ness - shiny and alien and... Well, I don't like them, but maybe you do, so I won't be unkind.

Books Inc. at Opera Plaza was open so I went in. Still good. Still love it. Still call it A Clean Well Lighted Place For Books half the time. They have a lot of good new stuff, go check it out!

Michael and I walked from his place to Hayes and back, stopping to people watch at Chez Maman and at Fig & Thistle, where apparently someone was shooting a music video. Interesting.

On my way home I dodged broken needles and needle caps and waited for what turned out to be an insanely crowded 5 Fulton bus.

The most crowded bus I've been on in years - we were packed in so tightly my bag was against one man's leg, my hip against another man's shoulder (he was seated). He didn't like the bodies (mine, another woman's) pressing against him but he made no move to slide farther into his seat, so what could we do? People got on and got on. I get it, with no other buses scheduled for 20 minutes what option did they have? But still.

The bus thinned by the time we got to Fillmore, praise the gods of Muni.

I moved back and sat near an open window. Ahhhh. It was me, a few folks with bulging bags from the farmer's market, and other folks staring out the windows, either looking for their stop, or zoning out.

In the back, furthermost seat, sat a kid in a Doja Cat T-shirt, huge headphones on his head. He grooved to his music. Smiled so widely that even with his mask on I could tell he was happy. It was lovely to see.

Divisadero. I felt a pull to get out, to wander and eat and shop, but I had places to be. I was glad to see Oasis Cafe open. I miss eating there.

As we neared my stop, I got nervous. I know, I know, I'm a broken record these days but it is not easy.

But. Two teenage boys sat by the doors, balaclavas on instead of face masks. They kept gesturing to each other and eyeing each other as people got ready to disembark. It looked like they were debating who to follow off the bus and rob. The old folks with their shopping got the most attention. A college student gabbing while clutching her phone merited a raised eyebrow from the kid sitting closest to the door. Seriously. I don't say it lightly, but they were going to do it to someone that day.

And it wasn't going to be me. 

I got out at 8th and Fulton and walked home down the most populated blocks between there and home.

I hope everyone got home okay.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Bus Report #1075

 My commutes and rides have been relatively uneventful lately, but rest assured I am still on Muni several days a week. 

Today I walked down to the bus a few minutes later than usual, Monday mornings being, you know, Monday mornings.

The bus arrived and I got on, sat in my single seat by the window, which I pushed all the way open before I was even seated.

At the next stop the boy who used to ride the bus with his mom and little brother got on. Taller, older, old enough to ride by himself. We smiled at each other. He went to sit in the back and spent his commute watching videos with the sound on. Normally it would bother me, but he's a good kid. 

More than a few Betty White tributes in the Castro, warming my heart for the duration of the ride.

We met the sunrise just before the hairpin turn onto Market. The city looked beautiful - foggy, matte grey everywhere, the buildings punching up through the hazy early morning light.

Dolores Park an elderly woman (fully masked, face shielded) wheeled her even older relative (mom? sister?) onto the bus. The seated woman also masked, face shielded, in one of those dusty lavender padded jackets that were popular in the 80s. The woman wheeling had a hard time situating her mom in the wheelchair space in the front, so our driver got up and helped. Nice.

At Mission and 18th the lights from El Ranchito Market shone brightly, illuminating the sheer abundance of the place. Mountains of fruit and vegetables out front. The shelves inside the market stocked full up to the ceiling as always.

Three heavily masked and backpacked folks got on, followed by someone with neither mask nor backpack. This man had a shaved head, thin coat, no mask in sight. He clutched two white pillows in his arms. One of the pillows was splashed with bright red blood. Actual blood. I cringed.

The bloody pillow man got out at the next stop, thankfully. Our driver honked at the tech bus idling in our stop (so I guess they're back, fabulous!). 

At Potrero I got out, thanked our driver. 

In the office, thinking of the bloody pillow, I washed my hands like Lady MacBeth.

And now the sun is shining and everything is beautiful. Have a great week!

Saturday, December 04, 2021

Bus Report #1074

I trekked down to Trader Joe's and the post office, for errands (only one was successful, can you guess which one?)

At 6th Avenue a woman wandered onto our 38 Geary bus, barefoot, in a short dress, not warm enough for the day. No mask. Something wrong. Mental illness? Drugs? Both?

Singing to herself.

She had a lovely voice but everyone moved away from her, just in case.

At the next stop, the driver got up and walked to the back of the bus, carrying a disposable mask in a paper bag.

"Miss," he said gently, "You cannot ride this bus without a mask on, okay?"

And she nodded absently and took the bag, and put the mask on.

Sang the rest of the way, bare feet swinging as she did.

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Bus Report #1073

 Another early morning walk and bus ride to work.

Clement Street was quiet today, quieter than usual. 

Said good morning to the New May Wah guys, walked on.

A man walking behind me kept a steady distance between us, but I think he could tell I was a little unnerved; at 8th he walked out into the street, and, giving me a wide berth, hurried ahead of me until he was about half a block ahead. Thank you, stranger, for noticing my unease. 

I will get past it, I will.

Clement Street curbs overrun with discarded Halloween pumpkins. Big ones, little ones, smushed ones, three stacked up and turned in to some sort of lamp. Probably should've disassembled that one before setting it out for pickup.

On the 33 we sped down Arguello and up to the Haight, just me and one guy who works at a construction firm near my office (he was wearing a company fleece).

Though the sky was still dark it was a bit lighter up on the hill where the 33 takes the hairpin turn. Dark green and grey sky above the Market Street Safeway.

And then the driver missed our slight turn and we were driving on Market for a minute, before he realized his error and quickly got us back onto 18th. 

We glided down the street for a few blocks. At Harriet he pulled over. "I'm rebooting," the driver called back to the three of us passengers.

He restarted the bus and got the electric poles back up on the wires. 

After a couple of false starts we were on our way again.

Nothing doing in the Castro. No one playing tennis at Dolores Park.

On Mission, my favorite early morning sight - a brightly lit market not far from the bus stop, chock full of produce and all sorts of goods piled high on shelves that only just avoid scraping the ceiling. Huge bins of fruit out front. It is beautiful in its utility.

I hopped out at Potrero, waved and smiled at the driver. 

Walked the rest of the way to work, past construction sites already humming with activity, and people huddled asleep in a few doorways. At the park, sweatshirted men and their dogs. Low mist about ankle height at least until I turned the corner, and then it was gone.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Bus Report #1072

 Headed in to the office today, my usual time.

Clement Street was black and grey and quiet, and foggy. Perfect pre-Halloween weather, though I'd have been happier with more light out.

It was spooky. The fog, one of my greatest loves, grew heavier as I walked. By the time I hit 6th Ave. it was so thick I couldn't see past the next block. Even a large PG&E truck with bright lights was surrounded by a swirl of fog, muting the light quite a bit.

The woman who sleeps in doorways near 8th was sitting on the curb, shoes off, washing her feet with water from a bottle. She then dried them and applied lotion. All the while, talking to herself as she often does.

She breaks my heart. I'd love to see her get some help. She has survived on our street for over a decade but she deserves peace and security. And warmth beyond the comforter she wraps up in each night. 

Passing Toy Boat I checked to make sure all was well (and it was indeed ship shape). Halloween decorations in the windows and in the store. Down the block, the Beetlejuice shop window at the pet store unnerved me, as it has done all month.

4th Ave and the fog was achieving pea soup levels of thickness. Perfect for a cozy morning, even if I was outside.

The man who sleeps in the doorway of the Japanese restaurant was awake. He lit a cigarette, said good morning.

I smiled, though I'm still very nervous about interacting with strangers after last year. Told him good morning, too.

Kept walking. 

At the bus stop, I couldn't even see past the intersection. Usually I can see buses and cars clear down to California Street, but not today.

I dug my Clipper Card from my bag and waited.

Like a ghost bus in the night, the 33 emerged from the fog and pulled over to let me on.

We zoomed down Arguello and up through the Haight, quiet and still.

In the Castro the sunrise was orange and pink and grey and blue, a perfect Ed Ruscha sunrise especially in Dolores Park above the palm trees.

I hopped out at my usual stop along Potrero. Waved to the guys at the garage and walked the rest of the way to work. 

The park near my office had a layer of fog hovering above it, knee height, and it was beautiful.

Robins hopped in and out of the fog. I stopped to watch them for a moment. Then the fog lifted, and I went upstairs to work.