You might remember storyteller Nuala Sawyer, News Editor at SF Weekly and haver of what most of us would agree was a pretty shit year back in 2013. She told the story on stage at Muni Diaries Live in November 2018, and it gave us not-so-surprise tears again when we added it to our podcast lineup recently.
The podcast episode ended up having an impact on an anonymous podcast listener, too. That person sent Nuala this handwritten letter to SF Weekly and, just when you think you’re out of Muni-related surprise tears…
“Thank you for telling it. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for placing yourself in a vulnerable position with the man and with the audience of Muni Diaries. As you impressively seem to know, honesty and vulnerability change [sic] people—us as well as those around us,” the listener wrote. We couldn’t agree more, Listener. Thanks, Nuala, for sharing—in more ways than one.
Muni rider Azucena wants to send a shout out to what she calls “two great and respectful Muni drivers” on the 8. We are always down for some driver thanks. The submission has been edited lightly for clarity.
One day picking up my daughter from school, I saw she had a small bag of fruits and cookies she was trying to give them away. I told her we should always appreciate bus drivers who take you where you have to go. So she gave the bag to one of the drivers, who appreciated the gesture and thanked her. The next day, she did the same for a second driver. She felt so happy to be able to give something rather than have it go to waste.
Ever since then, my daughter has known how to share her appreciation for people who take her where she has to go. She is only about four years old.
Walter is one of the drivers, who we see when we catch the bus at Silver and San Bruno going inbound. William, the second driver, we catch sometimes at Bayshore and Leland or Munich and Geneva. I will always say that the Lord is with them wherever they go.
Rider Sharon alerted us to this initially startling, ultimately awesome dispatch and new installment of strange cargo on Muni. Fond of sketching fellow passengers on Muni, Sharon couldn’t have found a better subject that day—but San Francisco is always up for a curiosity challenge if you’re up for it.
So when you need to transport a dragon skeleton for whatever reason, now Muni is officially the way! Sharon even did a quick sketch of the passenger and her winged friend, which you can see on her Instagram account.
“She faced the man squarely, looking directly into his eyes and telling him firmly, ‘You have no reason to threaten this woman.'”
Rider Ramona watched a brave woman defend another rider from a verbal attack; here’s her eyewitness account:
Down in the spookiness of the Forest Hill station, a man in a trench coat suddenly loomed up and started shouting at an older woman waiting for an inbound train. As he lunged toward her, hurling threats, Heidy suddenly appeared.
Heidy quickly stepped in between them, turning first to the woman, looking her in the eye and asking, “Are you OK?” The woman nodded and stepped back.
Keeping her body between the woman and the agitated man, Heidy now turned her attention to him. She faced the man squarely, looking directly into his eyes and telling him firmly, “You have no reason to threaten this woman.”
The man’s anger was now focused on Heidy. She held her ground, not moving. Whenever he shouted something, she spoke back to him firmly but respectfully.
Eventually he backed off and sat down on a bench. He was still shouting, but as he lay down, his anger got more specific: “I have no money! And I’m hungry!”
“I’m sorry to hear that, sir,” said Heidy. “I don’t have any food. But would you like the last of my coffee? It’s just cold coffee, but you can have it.”
“I don’t want coffee. I need food!”
“I’m sorry, sir.”
“I hope you get it.”
The train rolled into the station, and the man was now calm enough to board without threatening others.
There is food to be had, and he was headed down to get some. But, as I saw it, Heidy had given him something much greater: she SAW him. She showed him respect despite his outrageous behavior, but she wouldn’t let him get away with victimizing an innocent person. She held him to a higher standard, and this eventually caused him (despite his fragile mental state) to focus back on his real needs.
I approached her on the train and told her, “Thank you for what you did. That was a textbook example of how to handle that situation.”
“Oh, thank you,” she said. “I try. I figure if you live in the city, you can’t leave your house and be afraid. These are valuable skills to have.”
And…I want to be her when I grow up.
On the Muni Diaries Twitter feed and inbox, we’ve seen many stories of riders standing up for one another, including when an entire group of women formed a line of defense, and when fellow riders refused to tolerate body shaming. But it takes something special to truly see people, even at their worst. Kind of gives you hope for humanity, doesn’t it?
Storyteller Irene McCalphin has often experienced the invasion of personal space on public transit, but this one time she decided enough was enough, and she was going to take up the space she deserves.
As co-founder and massage therapist of A Sovereign Embodiment Healing Collective and Board-member of the Body Political, Irene blends magic with massage, storytelling and performance art to liberate, heal and reclaim space for marginalized community. They’re currently working on a book and facilitating the creation a healing and retreat space for queer femmes in Grass Valley, CA. You can find her writing on MammyIsDead.com.
Every transit system starts with a dream, and over there in Reddit-land, the catalyst for the dream was the Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme. Reader Kini S. sent over this tip: A super fan of the fast food chain created a Taco Bell transit map on Reddit to visualize what it’d be like if we had a transit system that connected all the Taco Bell locations in the Bay Area.
This map includes the Most Beautiful Taco Bell location in the country in Pacifica just off of the Linda Mar stop, where rumor has it that you can get a beer or a slushy fortified with booze along with your Taco Bell Chalupa or Gordita. Reddit commenters noted the lack of Taco Bell locations in poor, poor Marin, with only three locations before you get up to Petaluma. Though, as one commenter says, just seeing BART up in the North Bay is indeed enough to bring tears to your eyes.