Did your defining San Francisco experience happen on Muni?

If you’re a transplant, do you remember what defined your San Francisco experience? Muni rider Jesse James moved to San Francisco from smalltown Thousand Oaks to attend SF State, sight unseen. And the Powell Street Muni Station and the M-Ocean View line were the settings of his defining urban moment.

“I had a family connection to a little Italian restaurant downtown called Buca di Beppo. I quickly obtained a host job and my life consisted of me going to school during the day, boarding the M train, taking the M to the Powell Street station. There was nothing more beautiful to me at that point than coming up the escalator at the Powell Street Station, and the Virgin Records megastore was glimmering in the summer sun. It was just such a symbol of darling urban life in the most suburban lens of urban life.

“Riding that escalator that was fueled by shit and Hetch Hetchy electricity, I would work my shift, and leave my shift smelling like meatballs, board the train, and ride the train back to San Francisco State, go back to my dorm, masturbate for about 20 minutes, study for 10 minutes, go back to sleep, wake up, and do the whole thing again.

“Six months into living in San Francisco, my life consisted of San Francisco State, Stonestown, West Portal, Forest Hill, Castro Street, Civic Center, and Powell. I never branched out of that. It was literally the Hogwarts Express for me. The Dursley’s was SF State; Hogwarts was Buca di Beppo. And that was my whole fucking existence.”

Then the “worst thing that can happen to a human on the bus” happened to Jesse when he ventured out of the short length of the M train he knew so well. Watch the video to see the rest of Jesse’s story and what led to a Whitney Houston sing-along. Jesse’s story was taped at Muni Diaries Live on April 18, 2015, at the Elbo Room.

Photo by Kevin Wong

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