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.")

Muni Loony #2: the overly friendly guy

He is not technically one of the crazies, but his unusual habit of starting up conversations and engaging with strangers renders him an acutely annoying oddball. He is a middle-aged man, soft around the edges, always in dorky business casual. He often baits everyone with something banal like, “Man, it’s sure crowded today.” And should anyone respond, next thing you know he is asking them about where they are from and trying to connect with San Francisco trivia. One innocent couple held the door for him and the next 10 minutes were a barrage of T.M.I. snippets of his life. Doesn’t he get it? Morning commute is not a time to be chipper and chatty. The coffee may not have kicked in yet, and it takes zen power to survive the ride.

– Suzanne

Muni Loony #1: angry Moses look-a-like on Church and Market

He is a tall and slender man, age between 50 and 60. His long white hair is combed straight back and if memory serves me right, he has a trimmed beard and a penchant toward leather vests. The funny thing about this guy is that he is totally homophobic, but chooses to get on at Church and Market, only to stare angrily at a targeted passenger. Oh yes, he usually picks one person to target, while he speaks loudly for everyone to hear. His usual tactics are to stand really close, stare and make loud pronouncements like: “sinner,” “shame on you,” or, “homosexually is a sin.”

The other thing about this guy is that he is really big into manners. If you bump into him and he doesn’t hear you say excuse me, the entire train will be blessed with an angry and loud tirade about manners and the occasional “homelessness is not a crime.” He will stare at the person who bumped into him even if they manage to stand far away, and he will shout with a murderous look on his face. The whole thing is really unpleasant and I’m not really sure why people tolerate it. I guess verbal abuse just comes with the territory.

– Suzanne

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.

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