But when NextBus actually works …

Ouch! Still sore well into this afternoon after that sprint to catch the 5-Fulton last night. We left a house on Oak after discovering from NextBus that we had nine minutes. We put our shoes and jackets on, rounded up the dog, and bailed at a brisk pace.

By the time we got to Grove Street, I randomly decided to check the iPhone. 1 Minute, NextBus said. Pause. OH SHIT! I started running, while Tara and the dog did their best to trot up the hill. By the time I got to Fulton, I saw the bus, our bus, approaching. I made it to the correct side of the street just in time.

When the doors opened, panting, I asked the driver to please wait just a few seconds for my girlfriend and dog. Boy, did he looked pissed. Fine. I did the whole one-foot-on, one-foot-off trick, and waited approximately eight seconds for the girls to catch up to me.

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Muni Half-Loony

Stemming off Suzanne’s post about the mildly crazy man who baits you with a banal statement, then dives straight into the wackiness, I had a similar experience on the 38-Geary last week.

As usual, the 38 is filled to the brim by the time I pick it up at Geary and Franklin. There is a man with a large guitar case blocking one of the seats, so I politely (kind of) ask him if I could take the seat. He obliges, even adds a, “Oh, please have a seat,” and I’m ready to zone out until I get to my dinner spot. Guitar Man, a short, thin, 50-something punk type sporting David Byrne (recent, not Talking Heads era) hair, started chatting. As Suzanne said, morning commute is no time to be chatty, but I’d like to add that evening commute certainly isn’t either. Guitar Man makes a series of obvious observations, which include the fact that the bus goes faster once it gets to the Avenues, and that the 38 always seems to be crowded, doesn’t it? Harmless comments, and I quietly agreed that both those things were indeed true.

Perhaps at this point, because he started to become slightly annoying, I noticed his smell. And, if you remember my Pee-Pee Shed post, you’ll know how I have a knack for finding the stinky in Muni. Anyway, this person smelled like incense and whiskey. I don’t actually mind either of those things, but when you’re starving and tired, it’s a rather unpleasant way to spend a 30-minute bus ride.

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S.F. streetcars too popular for their own good

One wonders whether the Chron’s C.W. Nevius has been reading Tara’s posts on Muni Diaries:

The streetcars, sometimes called “museums in motion,” have committed the cardinal sin of public transportation: They have become too popular.

For example, Monday afternoon at Fisherman’s Wharf, around 2:30, I climbed on car No. 1053, a green and silver model that ran in Philadelphia in the 1940s. It was pretty full when I got on, but at the next stop – right at Pier 39 – hordes of tourists clambered aboard. After several calls to get people to move to the back of the bus, the driver announced that we were now aboard “an express to the Ferry Building.” Sure enough, we shot past passengers waiting at subsequent stops as if they were invisible.

The link also includes another link to an article about a F-line streetcar collision Monday that injured 14 people. Ouch!

— Beth W.

Beth is an author and journalist who is not at all ready to break up with the F-Market line, but only because she rides it less than once a week. She already has messy relationships with the 22, 38 and 5.

Muni Loony #2: the overly friendly guy

He is not technically one of the crazies, but his unusual habit of starting up conversations and engaging with strangers renders him an acutely annoying oddball. He is a middle-aged man, soft around the edges, always in dorky business casual. He often baits everyone with something banal like, “Man, it’s sure crowded today.” And should anyone respond, next thing you know he is asking them about where they are from and trying to connect with San Francisco trivia. One innocent couple held the door for him and the next 10 minutes were a barrage of T.M.I. snippets of his life. Doesn’t he get it? Morning commute is not a time to be chipper and chatty. The coffee may not have kicked in yet, and it takes zen power to survive the ride.

– Suzanne

pee-pee shed

I hopped on the 9x this week on North Point, right after work. Though this bus stop is on the same corner as my building, I’ve never needed to take a bus from it. I suppose we won’t count the time I tried in vain to grab a crowded 9x heading north toward work; that’s another dear-diary moment altogether.

I do walk by it quite a bit, and it always smells like an olfactory one-two of food garbage and piss. There is a garbage can nearby, and it is a Muni shed; so, months ago, I stored it in the Obvious folder of my brain and called it a day.

But now, we’re talking about now. And, now, up-close and personal, this thing smells horrible. Awful. Shit-awful, almost, but piss-awful is more like it. I sat in the shed for a second, until that rancid, nostril-filling smell of urine hit my nose. At first, it just smelled like a somewhat-dingy public bathroom. Then it smelled like a Port-a-Potty. You know, those really bad ones at beer or wine festivals that you wouldn’t be caught dead in, had it not been for the gallon of liquid now floating about your insides.

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