Tara Ramroop has laughed, cried, and commiserated with this amazing community from the start. She's been writing for as long as she can remember and riding Muni for more than a decade.

wisdom on the 49

I was on a 49-Van Ness yesterday evening, as the results for several East Coast states were coming in and Election Day was gearing up for the good stuff.

First, I listened to a man chatting with someone on the phone, who gave the most recent play-by-play results he had been watching for all day. He then demanded a free lunch if Obama reached 350 electoral votes. Results right now (9 a.m. on Thursday) show he’s at 349, with no major network yet calling North Carolina for the president-elect.

Then two boys got on with their moms. They were buddies, clearly, talking about school and their Halloween costumes, particularly which Halloween superstore had the best Batman costume.

Boy 1 was Hispanic, and said he lives wayyy down the 49, meaning he probably lives in the Excelsior, or somewhere else near City College on the south side of town. He had a few things to say about Tuesday’s election.

Boy 1: Everyone gets to vote today. Where are you from?

Boy 2: Los Angeles.

Boy 1: Oh. That’s near Mexico, right?

Boy 2: Yeah, kind of.

Boy 1: Well, I’m from Mexico, and McCain wants us to leave. He wants all the Mexicans to leave and go back to Mexico. But Obama wants us to stay.

Make of it what you will.

A fitting tribute

The Gus Van Sant movie Milk premiered here last night. It chronicles the life and times of slain S.F. Supervisor Harvey Milk, who tirelessly advocated for gay rights and other community issues, including public transit. He was thanked for all that hard work with scores of adoring fans across the country, broken barriers to equality, and five bullets in his body, courtesy of then-Supervisor Dan White.

In a tribute to Milk, the San Francisco Municipal Railway has dedicated one of its cars as a moving tribute to the supervisor, who was killed almost exactly 30 years ago. You can read the SFGate story here.

Here’s my favorite quote, which is most relevant to this site:

“He was pushing for a better Muni at a time when no one else really was in City Hall.”
-Rick Laubscher, president of the nonprofit Market Street Railway.

I complain to no end about the F, as a commuter, because it was a good idea that was/is poorly executed. But as I’ve noted before, they are charming little pieces of San Francisco history. If more and more people, including tourists, ride this memorial car and get a hint of what Milk did for our city 30 years ago, then I’d say the investment was a good one. Thanks, Muni.

Tara Ramroop can’t wait to see Milk when it comes out for all us regular people. She also hopes that the district elections bring more inspired, tireless public servants to the SF Board of Supervisors.

A Truck That Can Tow Mountains


Here we are on Powell just south of North Point on a Wednesday afternoon; I think we’re looking at a 9 or a 9x. And yes, it’s definitely getting towed.

So, what? Dead engine? Run out of gas? Flat tire(s)? Kind of embarrassing if any of those is the case, because a Muni hotel (parking lot/servicing spot) is less than a block from here. Also, this is the third or fourth stop from the start of the line. I think I speak for everyone when I say, “WTF?”

Obvious questions include: why’s it getting towed? Were people on this bus? Did a bus come to save the day? (SuperBus wasn’t that one in the background, if you were wondering). And was this a freak mechanical/electrical uh-oh or does this happen fairly regularly? Where’s Judson True when you need him?

— Tara

no comprende?

As a word nerd, as well as a recent visitor to a handful of foreign countries, odd sentence construction is one of the biggest WTFs you can come across if you’re not entirely fluent in a language; even if you speak a fairly decent textbook version thereof.

But I mostly write this tale as a woman, horrified by a man’s conversational skills on a moving vehicle, where everyone can (unfortunately) hear every word of his awkward conversation with two girls from Switzerland.

It’s good to be home.

Let me start the tale of awkwardness by explaining the body language in this situation, for which I fully craned my neck to get a gander at. Two girls, maybe 20, but probably younger, were standing on a crowded bus, chatting among themselves. A man, who was probably around 30, was standing behind them, attempting over (and over) again to engage them in conversation. I think we all know that it’s a bad sign when the object of your conversational interest: 1) doesn’t ask you a single question back, or 2) only turns around to face you when you ask one of your many questions.

But off he went anyway. Here’s a sampling:

Guy: So what goes on in Switzerland?
Swiss girls: What?
Guy: What do you do there? Like, for fun?

Commentary: “What’s going on?” is a very oddly worded phrase on its own. Turn it around like the way he did, to people who aren’t fluent in English, and you get this.

There’s a reason foreign English is funny; we never say things like “The reason for this is because…” unless we’re directly translating from another language. So a phrase like “What’s going on?” definitely loses something in the translation.

Guy: So there are a lot of mountains and stuff in Switzerland?
Swiss girls: Um, yes. Many mountains.

Commentary: Clutching at straws then, aren’t we? This kind of question is always the low point, on whatever end of the conversation you’re on. I personally ask questions like this when I don’t like someone, but am forced to be in their company, or am horribly uncomfortable.

But he continues with the kicker!

Guy: So, how old are you girls? 15? 16? 17?
Swiss girl 1: What’s the saying? You don’t ask a woman her age?
Guy: Nah, that’s only for women in their 30s!

Commentary: Good answer from the girls, and probably a good indication that they spoke better English than they first let on. Also, you’re a creepy asshole if you look anywhere near the vicinity of 30 (or older) and ask such a question. You then earn more creepy points for denouncing the statement as something for women…in your own age group.

Everyone eventually got off the bus, leaving me to stew in their residual cloud of awkward.

Yeah, it’s good to be home.

Tara Ramroop has only been let down a handful of times by Muni in the week since she’s been back. Progress?

what’s wrong here?

511 TripPlanner says it will take me about 57 minutes to get from where I work (Fisherman’s Wharf) to San Bruno, using a combination of walking, Muni and BART. The San Bruno BART station is 12.2 miles from the center of San Francisco.

It routinely takes me an hour to get anywhere within San Francisco via Muni, and I almost never cross the entire length or width of the 7 mi. by 7 mi. city on any given day. The exception is, of course, if I’m traveling to and from near-consecutive neighborhoods, such as the Mission to Glen Park.

In every other case, the One-Hour Phenomenon has proven true from Fisherman’s Wharf to Hayes Valley, from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Mission, from the Richmond to the Mission, from Cole Valley to the Mission.

We all knew BART was faster and more reliable (except that one day last week), but this was a rather dismal realization on an already dismal (weather-wise and economically) week.

Will the Central Subway ease our troubles?

Tara Ramroop canceled her extraneous credit cards and is watching her finances even more stringently (i.e., anally) than she already did. Now, more than ever, she and others may rely on the cost-effective Muni for transportation. Don’t let us down!

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