A Dispute about air on the 49-Van Ness

bus ride home
Photo by Art Siegel

The 49 arrived after we had all waited 15 minutes in the freezing cold. When we got onto the bus, though, the inside of the bus was about 20 degrees warmer than the outside because it was packed with morning commuters. I was lucky to grab a seat and kept my head down.

The bus was steaming up when a young guy standing in front of me with a long braided ponytail reached over to open the window. But just as soon as he opened the window, the big guy next to him reached over to slam the window shut. Without a word, Pony Tail reached over again to open it. Then Big Guy slammed it shut again. Shit was about to go down.

“Hey what’s wrong with you, I just wanna open the window, dude, get some air,” Pony Tail guy said.

Big Guy murmured something testily.

“Whatchu lookin’ at me like that for? What, no, it’s not cold! It’s hot in here! What? You wanna do this?” Pony Tail shoved a finger into Big Guy’s chest. “You wanna do this?”

Big Guy shoves back at Pony Tail. The older woman sitting next to me yells, “You guys, STOP IT!”

Big Guy stepped up closer to Pony Tail and said something we couldn’t hear, then Pony Tail said loudly, “I was just opening the window, and dude here with his hella BAD BREATH is trying to start shit!”

A young woman sitting behind Pony Tail started laughing, and now Pony Tail had an audience.

“You gonna start something with me, over air? You gonna try to send my ass to jail, because I want some air?” Pony Tail said.

The older woman next to me was not amused. “You should go to jail!” she yells.

Pony Tail wasn’t deterred. “Dude, if this was my stop we would both get off here and we would settle this outside!”

Finally audible, Big Guy said that, actually, this WAS his stop, and that they should indeed get off the bus here together.

“But this isn’t my stop, yo?” Pony Tail protests. “I was saying if this was my stop I would settle it with you!”

Big Guy got off the bus and we all breathed a sigh of relief. Pony Tail continued to talk about how he would have caught a cold or the flu if he hadn’t opened the window to get some fresh air, what with so many people being sick and this is the flu season and everything.

Minutes later, a young woman wearing a white sweater boarded the bus and made her way toward us and Pony Tail.

“Heeeeey girl,” Pony Tail said to the young woman, who clearly didn’t know him.

“I like your number! What is it?”

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  • Reminds me of a ride home from Bottom of the Hill many, many years ago. It was cold, and when I finally got on the 22-Fillmore, I was just happy to be moving and warm. A woman got on with kids a few stops later and promptly opened a window near her that blew frigid air directly on me. I closed the window, and she freaked. She threatened to beat me up. I just stared back, dumbstruck. She closed it again, and I just did my best to bundle up.

    Between that point (in Mission/Potrero) and Church and Market, she proceeded to verbally and physically abuse her 8-year-old-ish presumed daughter. As I got off, the friend I was with spoke to the young girl over her shoulder, telling her to report this woman.


  • I’ll almost always opt for opening the window, unless it’s raining into the bus. But it’s certainly not worth getting into a fight over. Crazy!

  • Dexter Wong

    Sigh, people will fight over the most trivial things.

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