At the time I was living in Russian Hill and every morning would take the 30 to the Caltrain station downtown.
I was seated in the back of the bus, across from a severely pregnant woman accompanied by her younger brother. Her crop top left her swollen midriff exposed, a canvass displaying an array of stretch marks. She carried a cloud of tension with her onto the bus; her disposition was that of dynamite with a lit fuse. She swore and gesticulated so loudly that within no time she had commandeered the apprehensive attention of everyone on the bus. No one else dared speak in the shadow of such a volatile person.
I can almost see this becoming a recurring theme here on Muni Diaries: Rides that are so long, and traverse so many neighborhoods and socio-economic levels, they have time to … not mature, per se, but to change course dramatically in their demographic makeup.
Case in point: Yesterday, around 6 p.m., I boarded the 30 on Third and Harrison. There was a Giants game earlier in the day, but it ended around 4. Still, there was one couple sitting toward the back of the bus who had clearly left the game a little late, he borderline passed out, she leaning over his lap. The only coherent thing I heard from them the entire time was a plea from him: “No, PG-13, baby, PG-13.” I didn’t dare look.
I decided to play Muni races today — the 5 against the 21. I’m fairly certain that the 5 line outmaneuvers and outruns the 21. (The block-to-block stops on the 21 draws this conclusion.) But the 5 stops about three streets farther from my final destination (Ashbury and Fell), which is why I always opt for the 21 — pure laziness. But the question was: Could I overtake the 21 on foot once the 5 dropped me at my destination? This was something I’d pathetically pondered more times than a sane person should.
As I waited for the bus on Market and Second, I saw my shot to answer this ever-nagging question. Just behind the approaching 5 poked a 21 — back to back. They both came to a stop. So I decided to test my theory, and hopped onto the 5. After we loaded and left, I watched the 21 out of the rear window until the two buses made the split near Seventh street. The race was on.
December 2004: It was raining on the platform on 19th avenue across from SF state. There weren’t too many people waiting, telling me I had just missed the outbound M. Amazingly enough, though, there was another coming in about two minutes. Not enough time to pull out a magazine. And plus, it was a windy rain, and the platform roof wouldn’t have done much to protect the pages.
I noticed only one other rider on my end of the platform: an Asian guy with a football team’s baseball hat. Maroon. 49ers. Very everyday San Francisco.
We boarded the M, shoes squeaking in that way that they do only on rainy days inside a Muni train. I sat down and he took his seat in the row directly in front of me. No one else was on in the front of the train where we were.
A couple of stops later, now in Oceanview, two young women got on. They seemed to be SF State students as well, but not your mid-career, second-degree type. No, they were young. If I had to guess, I’d say 19, maybe 20.
Okay, bear with me while I post a couple of years-old stories from aboard Muni. Here’s the first:
March 2006: As I stood waiting for the 22 at 16th and Mission, I noticed a somewhat attractive woman approach the stop. A couple minutes later, the bus arrived, and seeing as how there were only a couple of other boarders besides myself, I kindly let this woman get on first.
I stood patiently behind her as she approached the fare machine, and she had some kind of words with the driver. I couldn’t quite make out what she said, but I did notice that she neglected to pay.
She turned and started walking back on a medium-filled coach. She took a couple of steps away from the machine, and as she did, I stepped up. With people behind me waiting to get on still standing outside the bus, I was doing my best to keep the flow of bus traffic moving steadily along.
I was in Green Apple last night, at the checkout counter, when I noticed these snazzy new transit maps the MTA has put out:
Note the Waking Life/A Scanner Darkly-style graphic rendering of a photograph. Um, played out? – Jeff