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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Muni Loony #1: angry Moses look-a-like on Church and Market

He is a tall and slender man, age between 50 and 60. His long white hair is combed straight back and if memory serves me right, he has a trimmed beard and a penchant toward leather vests. The funny thing about this guy is that he is totally homophobic, but chooses to get on at Church and Market, only to stare angrily at a targeted passenger. Oh yes, he usually picks one person to target, while he speaks loudly for everyone to hear. His usual tactics are to stand really close, stare and make loud pronouncements like: “sinner,” “shame on you,” or, “homosexually is a sin.”

The other thing about this guy is that he is really big into manners. If you bump into him and he doesn’t hear you say excuse me, the entire train will be blessed with an angry and loud tirade about manners and the occasional “homelessness is not a crime.” He will stare at the person who bumped into him even if they manage to stand far away, and he will shout with a murderous look on his face. The whole thing is really unpleasant and I’m not really sure why people tolerate it. I guess verbal abuse just comes with the territory.

– Suzanne

Mr Big Vigilante in the T-train

Some mornings I treat myself to a pastry and a coffee on the go. The trains start to get really full around 8 am, and the later you get on, the less chance you have to hop on board, so saving time is key. Even if you’re not eager to get to work, standing on a crowded platform, as train after train goes by, isn’t much fun.

On this particular morning, the sun was shining brightly and since I was late, I picked up a chocolate croissant and a coffee on the way to the Church and Market station. When I got there I heard the train coming so I bolted, running down the stairs just in time to squeeze myself in. I couldn’t believe my luck to have made it in and that it was a T-train, which would take me all the way to work, without me having to wait at Embarcadero.

This train was super crowded and people sighed. I wasn’t the only one who squeezed in last minute and everyone was annoyed. Then, this booming man standing next to me looked down and upon seeing the chocolate croissant and coffee which I clutched tightly close to me, he announced with a loud and angry voice: “You have food. That is not allowed. Get off this train right now!”

Shocking. It’s not like I had a bag of Burger King breakfast. My coffee was sealed, my pastry in a paper bag. And I’m a skinny person who doesn’t take much room (unlike my friend here). If I had not been so happy to have made it into this train against all odds, I might have let him get to me. But in a rare display of quick thinking on my part, I just calmly responded that I would just put them away, placing the chocolate croissant in my bag and securing the coffee snugly on the side.

As the train moved on, I couldn’t help be aware of this angry and mean garrison. By the time we got to Embarcadero the train was empty enough for those remaining to get a seat. Mr Big Vigilante sat down giving me a dirty a look. And that was it for me. I sat across the isle from him. I slowly pulled my coffee out of my purse, unrolled the paper bag that concealed my golden, perfectly flaky chocolate croissant, and took a mouth-watering bite. What was he going to do now? Throw me off the train? As I sipped my coffee, I couldn’t help breaking into a smile: “hmmm, so good!” I had a nice ride from the Embarcadero to the Second and King stop, the coffee kicked in and the sun was still shinning. I wonder how Mr Big Vigilante feels about the Peet’s now located inside Montgomery and the Embarcadero station? He could use a little coffee himself.

– Suzanne

The 31 diaries

I’m generally pretty complimentary about the 31-Balboa because it generally deserves it. At best, this means it’s somewhat innocuous, boring and quiet, which can be a good thing when you’re riding clear across town.

Today’s ride home on the 31 was actually above-average, if you can believe it, and it had nothing to do with how punctual the bus was.

First, let’s discuss the “BACK DOOR!! BACK DOOR!” phenomenon. The back doors open when you step into the stairwell. Sometimes, you have to touch the door handles to make them open, which, on the 49-Van Ness, for example, is akin to licking your fingers after using a public bathroom. However, do not stand in the stairwell when the bus is trying to move from a stop, because it pretty much won’t if someone is still standing in the stairwell. This is complex exiting protocol for some, but I find it uniquely Muni, in its own irritating way.

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