Oh, the places you’ll go on the 22-Fillmore

Photo by Ian Fuller

Sadly, we just didn’t have enough time at our Muni Diaries Live reunion/open-mic show to have everyone who signed up to share their slice of Muni life onstage. So, we reached out to those individuals to tell their stories here on the website. Enjoy Ellie’s roller coaster chariot of a 22-Fillmore story.

If you ever want to see the entire world without leaving the city, two dollars is all you need for a trip on the 22. I wasn’t planning on visiting Tijuana, Japan, or the cast of Jersey Shore the first time I traveled the Fillmore bus line; I was on my way to see a movie — a Kabuki movie at that!

I had just moved to the city and a friend told me that if the opportunity arouse, I needed to go see a movie at the Kabuki. When she told me this, I had a sudden feeling of nostalgia. So that night, I stuffed a king-sized Kit-Kat in my bag and headed for the corner of Mission and 16th.

After seeing a slew of 14, 49, and 33’s slither by, I decided that it must have been during a stay in San Francisco that the band Whitesnake coined its name. My thought was stopped short by a woman with red-stained jeans, hunched over, and mumbling, “I got my period…I got my period…,” while walking back and forth in front of me.

“Umm…I — I — I’m sorry,” I muttered.

I wasn’t sure what she wanted to hear; I didn’t have an extra pair of jeans in my bag — I mean, I had a KING-sized Kit-Kat in there; I couldn’t fit anything else!

Finally, the rattle of 200,000 miles of car parts old enough to fight in ‘Nam came to a halt as if it were a soldier trying to salute me. A house of faces shuffled in and out of the back door and a couple senior citizens, a foreigner, and I headed to the front.

When it came time to pay my fare, I was anything but; I scrounged up two quarters and confidently stuck them in the slot like a Vegas high roller.

“How old are you?” the authoritative figure in orange and brown questioned.

“Sixteen,” I lied, with a giggle.

“You got an ID?”

He wasn’t buying it.

“Why would I have an ID? I’ll get one when I can drink.”

The roll of his eyes told me I won, and the tear of the late-night pass from the stack of transfers was the sound of my applause.

I headed for the back of the bus, where a man had set up a magic trick stand, equipped with three cups and an elusive ball. A crowd of passengers gathered around him as he swindled an unlucky Financial District chump out of fifty bucks. This didn’t discourage anyone else from joining in, and that man must’ve made enough money to pay the fares of everyone on that bus that hadn’t (that’s a lot of money.) Copperfield would have been proud of the way I slid by him completely unnoticed.

I found a seat next to a girl reading one of those “Twilight” pieces of crap; I had a choice between her, the kid writing his after-school club’s name in red Sharpie on the seat next to him, or the homeless man passed out in his piss.

The girl had gotten through twelve pages of garbage before I decided my stop must have been coming up soon. I peered out the window, but could barely make out if we had even passed through the Bronx yet.

“Twilight, my ass — It’s dark as shit out there.”

Quite some time had passed and I began to worry I had missed my stop. There were only three of us left on the bus. I didn’t want to interrupt the girl who was rotting her brain with unintelligible teenage vampires, and the only other person I could ask for directions was too busy singing over and over again: “I used to have the trey deuce and the deuce deuce in my bubblegoose. Now I got the mac in my knapsack.”

I think he thought he was clever because, well, we were technically riding the “deuce deuce.”

One stop later, Twilight junkie got off.

Two more stops after that and Notorious B.I.G. made his grand exit. I was alone on the giant Whitesnake, save for the bus driver, whom I had already established a less-than loving relationship with.

I had no idea where I was. For all I knew, I had made it to New Jersey and that’s not where I wanted to be, so I gave up and walked the plank towards the bow of the bus.

“Ummm…excuse me,” I nervously stammered. “Have… w — w — we gotten to Sutter Street yet?”

“What, you’re still on here? Don’t you have a bedtime or something?” he snarled.

“Uhhh, yes, yes I do. I really need to get home to my mommy and my daddy before they report me missing.”

“Well, this is the last stop. You’re gonna have to get off here, kid.”

Somehow, I had reached the end of the world. There was no movie in my future; no six dollar Cherry Coke twice the size of my head. This was the end of me — I knew it. So I got off.

I was confused when the bus just stayed there. Maybe it’s war-torn engine had taken one too many beatings and it had finally earned its Purple Heart.

Not knowing what to do, I sat down on the curb, put my head in my knees and sighed, “Give me a break.”

“Huuuuuh, my Kit-Kat!” I remembered. My eyes light up enough to read the sign at the bus stop. Turns out, what I thought was the end of the world, was also the beginning. The last stop was the first stop for the other direction! So I waited for the bus driver to finish eating his sandwich and open his door. I hopped on and flashed him my best sixteen year-old smile and an all-night transfer.


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