Eugenia Chien has been eavesdropping on the 47, 49, or 1 lines since the mid-90's. She lives by the adage, "Anything can happen on Muni" (and also, "That's not water.")

Mr Big Vigilante in the T-train

Some mornings I treat myself to a pastry and a coffee on the go. The trains start to get really full around 8 am, and the later you get on, the less chance you have to hop on board, so saving time is key. Even if you’re not eager to get to work, standing on a crowded platform, as train after train goes by, isn’t much fun.

On this particular morning, the sun was shining brightly and since I was late, I picked up a chocolate croissant and a coffee on the way to the Church and Market station. When I got there I heard the train coming so I bolted, running down the stairs just in time to squeeze myself in. I couldn’t believe my luck to have made it in and that it was a T-train, which would take me all the way to work, without me having to wait at Embarcadero.

This train was super crowded and people sighed. I wasn’t the only one who squeezed in last minute and everyone was annoyed. Then, this booming man standing next to me looked down and upon seeing the chocolate croissant and coffee which I clutched tightly close to me, he announced with a loud and angry voice: “You have food. That is not allowed. Get off this train right now!”

Shocking. It’s not like I had a bag of Burger King breakfast. My coffee was sealed, my pastry in a paper bag. And I’m a skinny person who doesn’t take much room (unlike my friend here). If I had not been so happy to have made it into this train against all odds, I might have let him get to me. But in a rare display of quick thinking on my part, I just calmly responded that I would just put them away, placing the chocolate croissant in my bag and securing the coffee snugly on the side.

As the train moved on, I couldn’t help be aware of this angry and mean garrison. By the time we got to Embarcadero the train was empty enough for those remaining to get a seat. Mr Big Vigilante sat down giving me a dirty a look. And that was it for me. I sat across the isle from him. I slowly pulled my coffee out of my purse, unrolled the paper bag that concealed my golden, perfectly flaky chocolate croissant, and took a mouth-watering bite. What was he going to do now? Throw me off the train? As I sipped my coffee, I couldn’t help breaking into a smile: “hmmm, so good!” I had a nice ride from the Embarcadero to the Second and King stop, the coffee kicked in and the sun was still shinning. I wonder how Mr Big Vigilante feels about the Peet’s now located inside Montgomery and the Embarcadero station? He could use a little coffee himself.

– Suzanne

Excuse me, fellow passenger

Question: Do you really have to cut your fingernails on the bus? Are you really that strapped for time at home that you grab your nail clipper and say to yourself, “Well, I can always finish clipping my nails on the bus”? I know the bus or train can be boring, and one of the benefits of public transportation is that you don’t have to concentrate on driving, so you can read the paper or a book, listen to music on headphones, eat your Popeye’s and drink your coffee, oh, and/or cut your nails. Don’t you think some people might be grossed out by that? Thankfully, I’ve never seen anyone cut their toenails on Muni, but I don’t doubt I will someday. First the fingernails, then the toes, what’s next? Don’t you see? It’s only a matter of time before someone brings a bucket of water and some shampoo and washes their hair just so they can use their Muni time “productively.” Fingernail clippings have a tendency to shoot in all directions, too. Don’t you know that? I don’t know, it just bugs me. Clip your nails at home, or go to a nail salon.

Rob Nagle is a designer and copy editor at the San Francisco Examiner. He clips his nails at home, in his bathroom, over a waist basket, in private.

Loud and Proud

Even though we all know well and good that NextMuni is kind of a joke (as is txtmuni, which completely ignored my cries for help this morning and refused to tell me when my 2-Clement was coming until a half-hour later), I spied this nifty item at the 38/38L stop at Geary and Divisadero Friday, for buses headed downtown. I didn’t push the button, but somebody did, because it kept rattling off arrival times every few minutes and even told us when the bus was actually arriving.

Considering that one of my top gripes about Muni is how many buses don’t play the audio signals telling people what the next stop is, this is definitely a step in the right direction.

— Beth W.

Not Your Papa’s 511.org

While I’m talking about potentially nifty things, I went to 511’s trip planner Friday and discovered it’s been completely revamped. Now, rather than telling you one route it thinks might suit your needs, it gives you several (it listed four for the trip I needed to make this morning), with descriptions on how long each one will take, how much walking it involves, whether it’s all buses, buses and trolleys, buses and BART, or whatever other combination might work. Of course, it still has the flaw that it’s not connect to NextMuni and has zero clue whether each mode of transit is going to show up on time, but at least someone at 511 figured out that riders might want options — say, to avoid certain routes or certain parts of the city. About time.

— Beth W.

Well, I Never

So I was making my way back to the office yesterday afternoon on the 5-Fulton. Typically, when it reaches its last stop at the Transbay Terminal, the bus driver opens all the doors.

This time, the bus driver honked at the 5 in front of him to move forward, but didn’t open the doors. I figured he was waiting to pull all the way forward before letting us off.

I, along with the other final passengers, lined up by the back door and waited. And waited. He never opened the doors.

After several seconds he muttered, seemingly NOT to us, “Are you going to get off the bus? Fine, stand there all day if you like.”

Once I realized he was addressing us, I said, “Excuse me?”

“STEP DOWN AND GET OFF THE BUS,” he yelled.

I think it was one of the few times in my life that I actually thought to myself, Well, I never! Where do Muni drivers learn their manners, anyway?

–Beth W.

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