Smiley Poswolsky left his suit-wearing days behind in Washington, D.C. to start a new life as a writer in San Francisco. Today, he’s an expert on Millennials in the workplace and author of the book, The Quarter-Life Breakthrough. A few years in to his life here, he found himself realizing that some of the things he enjoyed about the city were also having a negative impact on his beloved new home. This prompts him to consider a timely question: Who has the right to define a city and what it is (or should be) all about?
This has been a hot topic as of late, even in national news. This prompted us to turn to our listeners: If you could give the city a cultural health score, what would it be and why?
Rider Michael Z. cuts and polishes stones for a hobby. Since the stones are super heavy, he decided to go multi-modal this day, jumping from his bike to a Muni bus. The journey didn’t go exactly as planned. In his own words:
Rush hour traffic on the #7 to the upper Haight:
I, an avid bike rider, already had a long day messing with a lot of heavy rocks and minerals all day long. I was backpacking about 55 lbs of rocks in my pack while riding my bike and decided to ride the bus to my destination.
I boarded at Market and Van Ness with my bike on the rack in front of the bus; it was so crowded that I was standing right at the front of the bus. The driver and I struck up a conversation about bikes and we were pulling up to Market and Haight Streets; some passengers got off and some got on.
The driver was about to leave when this kid ran up to the bus, threw down this pink sorry thing of a bike, ran to the bike rack, and proceeded to pull my bike off the bus.
The driver said [to me], “Hey, isn’t that your bike?”
I looked and said, “Yea.”
The door flew open for me as the kid was trying to figure out how to shift gears to go faster. That was not going to happen since my bike was only geared for single speed. So, with 55 lbs of rocks on my back, I ran and caught up to him and clotheslined him over the handle bars of the bike and got on top of him. I was about to nail him in the face. But seeing how young he was, I decided against it and told him it was his lucky day (or not so lucky) and told him to get a job and buy a bike.
I got my bike, and, to my surprise, the bus driver had waited for me. I put my bike back on the rack and got on the bus, and the whole bus started clapping their hands, some saying good job and so on.
What a crazy day. Thanks to the bus driver on the Haight Street line who waited for me at the scene of the bike-jacking. There IS a story to tell on every line.
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, a fixie and an action-movie-worthy chase scene beg to differ. Thanks, Michael, for this cautionary tale! (Legit wondering what happened to the pink bike, though.)
Muni driver Tammy has a very reasonable request: could we please look up from our phones as we get ready to board the bus?
I wanted to ask you if you could start a dialogue with your followers regarding “Passengers waiting for the bus while distracted by [their] cell phones.” It has become increasingly frustrating to provide great customer service when my passengers are not prepared to board the bus…
Muni Driver Tammy
In case you’re wondering: the bus doesn’t stop at every stop by default: Tammy says that drivers pay attention to body language, especially when it’s a multiple-line bus stop. “In order to keep the service going, we look at the potential passengers standing at the bus stop to see if they want the bus, and then if we see that they do, we stop.”
Tammy says that passengers are looking down at their phones, or worse, with earbuds in their ears. As the driver approaches the stop, often nobody is looking up. “It’s not until you get ready to pull off, they look up and then all of a sudden they start waving” when the bus is already in motion.
Yikes. That sounds about as annoying to the drivers as it is for the riders. You might remember Tammy as the Muni driver who threw a surprise party on the 33-Stanyan for her riders when she was switching routes. Years later, she continues to brighten days for riders, even inspiring two visiting travelers to write to us recounting their experience with Tammy. We still get occasional dispatches about Tammy sightings, which are always a delight.
We have to admit that we’re also guilty of feeding the phone addiction at the bus stop while we wait. It sounds like it would make everybody’s lives easier if we looked up every once in a while with our Clipper card or fare in hand, and make some kind of motion to the bus driver to stop. What do you think?
Muni is probably our longest love-hate relationship, a widespread phenomenon that became the focus of one bus rider’s one-woman play. That woman, Ady Lady, is a writer and performer. She’s written and performed two solo shows: Sara Jane Tried to Shoot the President and From Piss to Bliss, the latter of which was about her desperate attempt to lead with love while riding Muni.
Update: She’s still working on it.
Ady Lady told her story at Muni Diaries Live at Rickshaw Stop earlier this spring. For everyone who missed it (or can’t wait for the encore), here’s her story: