Sometimes, dreams do come true

I had a surprisingly pleasant Muni experience on the way to work yesterday, only because it went beyond my expectations. As I believe I’ve said before, I have a good Muni location, I walk down from the Lower Haight to Church and Duboce, give a quick glance for any incoming N-Judahs or J-Churches, and if I don’t see one, I continue down to Church Street Station and try my luck at an L, M or the dreaded K/T whatever the hell it is. I say dreaded because it is usually only one car, and even though it technically begins just one station away at Castro Street, it is usually packed to the gills. I guess that’s because it’s also a K, and has come all the way from Balboa Street Station. Anyway, when I got down to Church Street Station on Monday I was immediately disheartened because on the incoming train monitor I saw a one-car K was the only train coming. I said to myself, “I guess I’ll be standing all nice and intimate all the way to Powell Street today.” But, I was wrong, for the first time ever on my way to work and since the T was introduced, the train was sparsely populated, well air-conditioned and hauled ass downtown. Just want to give Muni props, that although it seems like you can and should only expect the worst, sometimes Muni doesn’t screw you. You have to enjoy it when it happens.

— Rob

Rob Nagle works at a free San Francisco daily newspaper that has been sprucing up its Web presence.

Thank you, stranger photographer, for complimenting me on my shoes

While waiting for the 38-Geary at the end of a beautiful sunny day, a young man with a professional-looking (read: big lens! Nikon neck strap! Looks professional to me!) camera complimented me on my sandals. Little did he know that I overspent on these snappy little gold shoes and am constantly justifying to myself about their existence in my closet.

Thank you, photographer guy! You made my day, and when I got home and logged onto my computer, I found that the same pair of sandals is now on sale in a different color. Guess what I bought?

– Eugenia, helping the American economy, one pair of shoes at a time.

A Dose of International Homophobia on the 49

Judging by their accents, I’d say they were from some Eastern European country. When they got on, the bus was full, and the one man in the group took the open seat next to an extremely effeminate, probably-gay man. Probably-gay man was talking to his probably-straight female friend. Hands flailed, but in an oh-so respectful manner.

But that wasn’t good enough for gay-hating Eastern European man.

As soon as a seat opened across the aisle, he hopped over there and proceeded to stare back at probably-gay guy with a look that could cut glass.

Now, there’s a lot of speculation in this diary, to be sure. But that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

My advice to homophobes, no matter where you’re from: We have gay people here in San Francisco. Maybe you’ve heard. Do your best not to stare, especially with such disdain.

– Jeff

Jeff has seen a gay person or 10,000 in his eight years in San Francisco, but he’s never stared at them dismissively.

Seeing Our City’s Less Fortunate on Muni

A Muni ride puts you in much closer proximity with our city’s less fortunate – instead of just walking over yet another homeless person huddled in a blanket or ignoring yet another outstretched hand for spare change, a Muni ride makes you look at people in the eye. Or does it?

I was on the 38-Geary on Sunday when a older man wearing a trench coat got onboard. He sat across from a toddler bouncing on her mom’s lap, and the next thing I know, the man started singing a pretty, soulful tune to the little girl. “The girl of my dreams…ain’t no mountain too high…nothing can keep us apart.” “You know what I’m talking about,” he says to no one in particular.

He rambles on and tells the bus that his name is Fillmore Holmes (“That’s right. That’s my real name.”) and sings right in front of Virgin Records downtown. “My last show is on August 23! Are y’all going to come see me at my last show?”

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Thanks for sharing

No, ma’am. It wasn’t your facial hair. Nor was it your morbid obesity. These things I can look past.

You didn’t hoard any seats, spit, or litter. I’m pretty sure you flashed a Fast Pass and took your seat, not refusing to move to the back of a crowded coach like so many of your fellow riders.

No, your offense was perhaps more egregious: You treated us all, a peaceful bunch of weekday morning 31-Balboa riders, to an exclusive, VIP performance of … your phone conversation with a friend. Loud and clear, thank you.

It was so wonderfully annoying, really, the way you neglected to shield your loud mouth from us. Otherwise we might not have been privy to all those glorious details of your home and social life.

Unless it’s an emergency, or you can keep it brief and quiet, put your phone away.

– Jeff

Jeff has heard his fair share of excuses.

White whale

Photo by hamster!

100 Muni StoriesAn average ride on Muni provides a good story to tell friends later on, but the experience is rarely a positive one. Indeed, that’s the whole basis of this site – funny stories, sometimes positive, often quirky, but usually negative and sometimes scary. Those of us who continue to use Muni (even though it’s given us black eyes, sent us to the hospital multiple times, but still says it loves us) resign ourselves to this fact. Most of us have all but given up on the Muni white whale.

OK, I guess the real Muni white whale would be a functional, reliable system, but we’re not going to go there right now. What I’m talking about now is an overwhelmingly positive Muni experience; something you can come away from and say, honestly, that it was fun. Sadly, Ishmael probably had better luck finding Moby Dick than we’ll have looking for an awesome bus ride.

But I actually had a great time on Muni the other day, if you can believe it.

Tara 1, Ishmael 0

Most of this diary takes place on Muni property, on unscheduled Muni time, so I’ll refrain from using too many identifying markers, including Driver’s approximate age, weight, ethnicity and Social Security number. Let’s just say I picked up the bus on the north end of town and was heading south, at some point in the day, on some day within the last week.

I hurry over to a bus, after seeing it parked at the stop I needed. No need to hurry, though. The driver jogged up behind me, asked where I was headed, and if I wanted a ride. I naturally assume this is driver humor; Haha! A ride, I get it. On the bus that I was trying to get on, that’s going to the very neighborhood I needed? Ha!

I guess it wasn’t really a joke. I walked over to the doors as he unlocked them, and saw the number for a line I totally didn’t want. At this point, Woman Reflex kicked in. Is this the worst kind of Muni Loony, the kind who beat up or killed a real Muni driver and stole his bus and outfit, and is now giving “rides” to women walking around alone? Instead of overreacting, I asked him what line this was. He told me what it was, but said he was just coming off his shift, and was going to be dropping it off at a Muni lot near(ish) where I was going. My intuition is pretty good, it wasn’t an odd hour, and I needed to get to where I was going ASAP. Also, I knew I could deal a pretty hefty kick in the nuts if I needed to, and it was pretty clear that he didn’t have a gun in his Muni outfit.

My intuition served me well, because he was indeed harmless. He strapped himself in the driver’s seat right away, limiting any no-goodnik-mobility, so I relaxed some. Oh, and I got to change the side and front banners to “Not in Service.” That’s right. Did you miss it?

I got to change the banners to say “Not in Service.”

It’s a pretty simple task on the older buses. Unlike the digital ones that can probably be changed with a couple stabs at a button, these signs move if you flick a switch that scrolls through all the different Muni numbers. Indicators from the inside of the bus tell you what it says on the outside, so I stopped once it got to what I wanted. Easy. And awesome.

With my Woman Reflex antenna still up, I fiddled with my phone the whole time, just so he could see how easily I could call the cops if he got weird. He wasn’t weird, he was just admittedly lonely.

He commented on my lack of a wedding ring, and I said I was unmarried but not single. He seemed fine with that, which is actually kind of amazing in this day and age of would-be suitors. It’s simple, really: Ask politely — Rejected? — drop the subject and any comments about her appearance, her mate or how she’d be better off with you. If you don’t, she will become visibly irritated and might mace you just to release the frustration of dealing with a hard-headed asshole like yourself.

Man, was Driver glad to be off work. I wholeheartedly agreed that there’s no time quite like quitting time. He pulled out his pack of cigarettes, asked if I minded if he smoked, and proceeded to puff away, while driving the bus. I should have taken a cigarette so I could tell people I smoked with the driver on a Muni bus.

Then he talked about how he wants to get out of the city, and maybe find a nice lady out there somewhere. San Francisco, he said, is too expensive, with too many crappy landlords and, for him, too many years working a dead-end job. Not that it’s earth-shattering news, but Muni employees are a disgruntled lot. If what Driver said is true, you apparently don’t get a regular route until you’ve been there for 10 years. So Driver’s day-to-day tasks involve filling in for people who call in sick, or filling in as best he could during those multiple, ever-charming missed runs. I don’t blame him for wanting to go somewhere cheaper, and finding a job that isn’t, as one friend put it, like driving a jail on wheels. He has big-rig driving in mind, since they get paid well.

My only complaint was that he drove at a snail’s pace down the main road we used. He was probably distracted because he was chatting and smoking the whole time, but still. Not exactly a speedy ride, but no harm done either. He had to turn away from where I was heading, so he dropped me off at a bus that would take me directly there. I hope things work out for Driver, and I’m still surprised that he’s made it through nearly a decade of Muni.

The only thing that can top this is a reliable transit system, but I’m not holding my breath.

Tara Ramroop, who occasionally pisses people off with what she writes and how she edits, actually doesn’t like Moby Dick that much. It’s no private ride on Muni, that’s for damn sure.

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