What happens when you skip school and take Muni as your escape vehicle

When you’re a kid skipping school, your parents are probably the last people that you’d want to run into. For one San Francisco kid, luck was not on her side. Storyteller Meaghan Mitchell is a native San Franciscan and news editor at Hoodline, which you can imagine gives her tons of local cred. In this week’s podcast episode, Meaghan shares a story of one really hard day at school and how it brought her to a familiar face on Muni.

Listen to her story:

As an essential part of living here, Muni is so often the backdrop of childhood memories for native San Franciscans, like this story from Yayne Abeba, whose mother often gave her and her siblings money to ride Muni as a way to get them out of the house.

If you liked the stories you’ve heard on our podcast, come see us live on March 7 at the Betabrand Podcast Theater! We will be bringing the podcasts live to you for the first time with a studio audience! Tickets are only $5 and on sale now.

See Muni Diaries at the Betabrand Podcast Theater on March 7!

We’re coming out of our humble podcast studio, rosé in hand, to record our first live episode at the Betabrand Podcast Theater! On March 7, we’ll bring our podcast live to you at the Betabrand store on Valencia Street, where you’ll hear hilarious and true stories from on and off the rails, and watch us chat live with some of San Francisco’s most seasoned commuters.

You’ll hear tales from storyteller Dhaya Lakshiminarayanan and The San Francisco Chronicle’s Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub. And just for the Betabrand Podcast Theater, we’ll bring you a new segment called “Ask Driver Doug” featuring longtime Muni operator Doug Meriwether.

Tickets are only $5 for our first live podcast event, so get ’em while they last!

Betabrand Podcast Theater presents: Muni Diaries

Tickets: $5

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Doors: 6:30 p.m., Show 7 p.m.

Betabrand

780 Valencia Street (between 18th and 19th Streets)

San Francisco, CA 94110

Take Muni there: 12, 14, 22, 33, 47, 49. Or take BART: 16th Street Station.

Illustrated train delay scarf fetches handsome sum on eBay

When German writer Sara Weber tweeted about her mom’s interesting way of knitting scarves, she probably never imagined it would set the internets ablaze. But take it from us—people love talking about transit and transit delays. Apparently, they love when both are captured as creatively as this.

Weber tweeted about her mom’s knit pattern based on train delay times:

“My mother is a Munich-area commuter and enthusiastic knitter. In 2018 she knitted a “train delay scarf.” Two rows per day: gray for less than 5 minutes, pink for 5 to 30 minutes delay, red for a delay on both trips, or once more than 30 minutes.”

Weber’s mom channeled her public transit frustrations into a knit pattern in the style of a temperature blanket. You can see that, in the spring, things were pretty OK given the gray and blue stripes, but in the summer, railway replacement traffic caused massive delays in Germany, which gave the scarf its wide swath of red. Thanks to fellow yarn enthusiast Shannon Okey, who translated Weber’s tweet, we found out what happened next.

The scarf went viral on social media in Germany, and the women decided to auction it off for charity on eBay. According to The Guardian, the scarf fetched more than $8,000. Guess who emerged victorious? Germany’s biggest rail company, whose delays have earned the ire of many commuters—including the knitting mom.

Isn’t it ironic…don’t you think?

Can you imagine if Muni bid on and bought your handmade scarf illustrating bus delay frustration? Thanks to Muni Diaries friend @edcasey for discovering this super relatable transit rider story.

Got your own story, whether it happened on or off the bus? We’re all ears! Submit a tip or a story via email at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @munidiaries.

San Francisco Diaries: How a bookstore clerk became the owner of Green Apple Books

Pete Mulvihill is living every book lover’s dream: owning the bookstore he loves. Pete took a winding road to co-owner of the city’s beloved Green Apple Books, and we can’t thank him enough for keeping this space alive.

If you haven’t been to Green Apple Books, you owe it to yourself to make a trip: the sprawling bookstore on Clement Street features both new and used books, with witty staff commentary peppered throughout the shelves and many nooks and crannies (figurative and literal) to explore.

In this episode of the San Francisco Diaries podcast, San Francisco Diaries episode, Pete walks us down that winding road to co-ownership.

Listen to his story:

Want more bookstore tales? Check out our earlier episode with Alan Beatts of Borderland Books.

If you liked what you heard on our podcast, please consider supporting us on Patreon! Every dollar helps us keep the lights on and get even more stories into your ears.

Photo by Lynn Friedman.

What was your worst year in San Francisco?

Storyteller Nuala Sawyer was having a terrible year in San Francisco: an accident that broke her arm, being laid off from her job, and a terrible breakup on top of it all. It was one of those times in your life when you think things couldn’t get any worse. Then, a man on Muni shared a vulnerable moment with her that changed her perspective.

Nuala is the News Editor at SF Weekly. She writes about a little bit of everything: City Hall, the courts, homelessness, immigration, housing, crime and of course, transportation.

Listen to Nuala’s story:

You can follow Nuala on Twitter at @TheBestNuala, or hear her on Rollover Easy Thursday mornings at bff.fm.

If you have a story to share, whether it happened on or off the bus, we want to know! Submit your own diary entry to the Muni Diaries podcast by emailing us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us @munidiaries on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook

Meet Heidy, Muni hero

“She faced the man squarely, looking directly into his eyes and telling him firmly, ‘You have no reason to threaten this woman.'”

Rider Ramona watched a brave woman defend another rider from a verbal attack; here’s her eyewitness account:

Down in the spookiness of the Forest Hill station, a man in a trench coat suddenly loomed up and started shouting at an older woman waiting for an inbound train. As he lunged toward her, hurling threats, Heidy suddenly appeared. 

Heidy quickly stepped in between them, turning first to the woman, looking her in the eye and asking, “Are you OK?” The woman nodded and stepped back. 

Keeping her body between the woman and the agitated man, Heidy now turned her attention to him. She faced the man squarely, looking directly into his eyes and telling him firmly, “You have no reason to threaten this woman.” 

The man’s anger was now focused on Heidy. She held her ground, not moving. Whenever he shouted something, she spoke back to him firmly but respectfully. 

Eventually he backed off and sat down on a bench. He was still shouting, but as he lay down, his anger got more specific: “I have no money! And I’m hungry!” 

Pause.

“I’m sorry to hear that, sir,” said Heidy. “I don’t have any food. But would you like the last of my coffee? It’s just cold coffee, but you can have it.”

“I don’t want coffee. I need food!”

Pause.

“I’m sorry, sir.”

Pause. 

“I hope you get it.”

The train rolled into the station, and the man was now calm enough to board without threatening others.

There is food to be had, and he was headed down to get some. But, as I saw it, Heidy had given him something much greater: she SAW him. She showed him respect despite his outrageous behavior, but she wouldn’t let him get away with victimizing an innocent person. She held him to a higher standard, and this eventually caused him (despite his fragile mental state) to focus back on his real needs.

I approached her on the train and told her, “Thank you for what you did. That was a textbook example of how to handle that situation.”

“Oh, thank you,” she said. “I try. I figure if you live in the city, you can’t leave your house and be afraid. These are valuable skills to have.”

Indeed. 

And…I want to be her when I grow up. 

On the Muni Diaries Twitter feed and inbox, we’ve seen many stories of riders standing up for one another, including when an entire group of women formed a line of defense, and when fellow riders refused to tolerate body shaming. But it takes something special to truly see people, even at their worst. Kind of gives you hope for humanity, doesn’t it?

If you have a story to share or a Muni hero that deserves a shout, we want to know! Tag us @munidiaries on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, or email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com.

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