Gwen Carmen is a cancer survivor and longtime teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District—but some of her best stories come straight off our own local transit. In this episode, Gwen tells a story about taking BART to see one of Aretha Franklin’s final performances at the Oakland Coliseum. On her journey home from the concert with a group of fellow riders, Gwen finds herself in the middle of a crime scene that brings the journey to a halt—but not the end.
You might remember Gwen from the live shows or from Episode 62 of this podcast, in which she told a story about serving sweet, sweet justice to a bus creeper while riding the 24.
You might remember storyteller Nuala Sawyer, News Editor at SF Weekly and haver of what most of us would agree was a pretty shit year back in 2013. She told the story on stage at Muni Diaries Live in November 2018, and it gave us not-so-surprise tears again when we added it to our podcast lineup recently.
The podcast episode ended up having an impact on an anonymous podcast listener, too. That person sent Nuala this handwritten letter to SF Weekly and, just when you think you’re out of Muni-related surprise tears…
“Thank you for telling it. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for placing yourself in a vulnerable position with the man and with the audience of Muni Diaries. As you impressively seem to know, honesty and vulnerability change [sic] people—us as well as those around us,” the listener wrote. We couldn’t agree more, Listener. Thanks, Nuala, for sharing—in more ways than one.
Muni rider Azucena wants to send a shout out to what she calls “two great and respectful Muni drivers” on the 8. We are always down for some driver thanks. The submission has been edited lightly for clarity.
One day picking up my daughter from school, I saw she had a small bag of fruits and cookies she was trying to give them away. I told her we should always appreciate bus drivers who take you where you have to go. So she gave the bag to one of the drivers, who appreciated the gesture and thanked her. The next day, she did the same for a second driver. She felt so happy to be able to give something rather than have it go to waste.
Ever since then, my daughter has known how to share her appreciation for people who take her where she has to go. She is only about four years old.
Walter is one of the drivers, who we see when we catch the bus at Silver and San Bruno going inbound. William, the second driver, we catch sometimes at Bayshore and Leland or Munich and Geneva. I will always say that the Lord is with them wherever they go.
Rider Sharon alerted us to this initially startling, ultimately awesome dispatch and new installment of strange cargo on Muni. Fond of sketching fellow passengers on Muni, Sharon couldn’t have found a better subject that day—but San Francisco is always up for a curiosity challenge if you’re up for it.
So when you need to transport a dragon skeleton for whatever reason, now Muni is officially the way! Sharon even did a quick sketch of the passenger and her winged friend, which you can see on her Instagram account.
Nothing boosts your SF cred (or at least sparks conversation with a n00b) like an ode to the dearly departed Muni Fast Pass. Fellow San Franciscans, no matter the cut of your jib, head on over to our Black Friday sale in the Muni Diaries Etsy shop, where everything is 20% off!
A tip via reader Marcin W., Jannina Uribe tweeted this ingenious solution to a broken stop request from a bus in Mexico. She reports that the written message translates to: “Bell out of order. Squeeze the chicken.”
Insert any number of chicken/Muni/and choke-the-chicken jokes here.