What I saw in one F-Market ride

Don Chee Way
Photo by Troy Holden

True, there is no “one” Muni experience. But there’s a generalized feeling. I think most people drawn to Muni Diaries know what I’m talking about. I’m not a great writer, but I’ll do my best to describe my ride Tuesday morning, and maybe you’ll see what I mean.

I joined a gaggle of waiting-to-pay F-Market/Wharves riders, calmly queuing as the streetcar pulled up to Market and Main. There was a light sprinkle, but nothing so bad as to make us clamor and push.

I took my place, standing, just inside the row of seats, near the driver. I overheard a passenger boarding behind me ask the driver whether she stopped at “Thirty-third.” “Pier 33, you mean?” driver asked. “Yeah,” the rider said. “Yes, I do.” “How much?” “Two dollars,” driver said. “For disabled?” rider asked. “Oh, no, $0.75.” Coins deposited, we start to move slowly.

The woman in the disabled-designated seat in front of me kindly offered our newest passenger the seat. “Nah, I’m good to stand.” “Are you sure? Please take the seat.” “Okay, thank you.”

I honestly believed I had just witnessed one of those rare, poignant scenes of real-world decency. Everything seemed to be running so smoothly and smiles were appearing on the faces of the crowded passengers.

… until.

The streetcar made its right turn on Steuart toward the Market Street Railway Museum, but came to a standstill well before the stop. I was in front, and so was afforded a view out the windshield. The rails were obstructed by a stopped bus. The operator was talking to someone out her left window about the delay. I couldn’t make out what they said, but it was a calm conversation.

Then a voice erupted from about mid-streetcar. It wasn’t coherent at first. But as it persisted, I realized that it was a dismayed passenger. “Driver, please make the train move,” he said. And said again. And again.

“What? Who is that?” the driver asked. “I think you should ignore it,” I chimed in. “I would move the train, but there’s a bus blocking us,” she said. “We’ll be moving in one second. Sorry.”

The voice came back, louder and more urgent. It was at this point that I realized it was someone who probably had some sort of mental disorder. I felt bad for him. He clearly didn’t seem to grasp the fact that we were stuck. And then, about one minute later, when the streetcar did start inching its way toward Don Chee Way, he kept asking the driver to “make the train move.”

Then, just as soon, he went quiet.

A few blocks later, there were the tourists who stand up when their stop is called, not realizing we’re stopped because of a traffic light. Then, the car starts moving across the intersection to get to the stop, and the tourists all fall into you, as if it were choreographed.

Yes, it was just another morning commute on Muni. Fairly tame by Muni standards. Worthy of a diary to my mind nonetheless.

6 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.