‘Poker Face’ Sing-Along on F-Market

Muni 1052 FW 2
Photo by Flickr user The Holy Hand Granade

100 Muni Stories“And baby when it’s love, if it’s not rough, it isn’t fun.” We flippin’ love it when random strangers start singing together on Muni.

This funny experience happened to me and a group of friends on the eve of Valentine’s Day. We were on the F Market streetcar at Fisherman’s Wharf and the streetcar was very crowded. My friends were from the East Bay and have never experienced Muni life, but this streetcar ride made it very interesting.

A man in the back of the train was very loud and kept saying random things, like “KEEP YOUR BAGS AND WALLETS CLOSE TO YOU.” I thought, “Oh God, not one of these rides again.” But my friends were actually having a good time, enjoying his loudness.

The train was moving slowly out of the Wharf area and the man in the back of the streetcar started singing parts of a song. Well, he was combining two of Lady Gaga’s songs, “Bad Romance” and “Poker Face,” and it was only a small section of the songs. My friends and I couldn’t stop laughing, nor could the other passengers.

Suddenly, my friends started singing “Poker Face” from the beginning. I joined in and then more passengers joined our choir group. The song ended when the man in the back totally killed the song by singing that small section out loud and off-key. Things were going pretty okay until the man walked over to the front of the streetcar. By now he was being really loud, announcing that “I believe in Satan” and started to get closer to me.

My friends seemed a little freaked out, but soon it was our stop, and we got out of that streetcar quick. This was an experience that we would never forget.

P-p-p-poker face p-p-poker face…Got another Muni story to share? Do it here.

Loretta: Muni bus driver, guardian angel

Photo by Thomas Hawk

100 Muni StoriesLast night I fell asleep riding the 49 inbound up Van Ness around 9 p.m. Fell asleep BAD. Like I’m surprised no one checked my pulse to see if I was still alive (well, maybe they did and I just slept through it). When I woke up, I realized I had missed my stop at Jackson by several blocks and raced out the door. Shortly thereafter, I discovered that my phone, which I had been holding when I fell asleep, was no longer with me. I panicked, but there was no way to catch up to the bus.

I got to my friend’s house, and used his phone to call mine. Nobody picked up, and I expected the worst. It was a hat-trick in the worst way: the Giants get shut out by the A’s, I miss the season finale of LOST, and my cell phone is now being kicked around an empty bus. But awhile later we got a call from Loretta, the Nicest Bus Driver on the Planet. She had found my phone, and rather than sending it to lost and found—where she insisted it would have been gone forever—took it with her.

Today I met her on her route and she returned it to me. I tried to give her some cash as a thank you, but she wouldn’t accept it. Anyways, Loretta, you saved the day! Thank you!


A misfired projectile in Tiffany’s airspace

Photo by christine.ricks

100 Muni StoriesJesse told a two-minute version of this story at Muni Diaries Live! two Fridays ago, and there was no question that he was the crowd favorite of the evening. People couldn’t get enough of Jesse so we asked him to write his story in full here for you.

I was heading home from work, a task that takes about 45 minutes and one transfer. In the afternoons, I prefer to take the 1-California, as it has consistently proven to be the gentler, cleaner, more Asian cousin of the consistently troubling 38-Geary. Little did I know that this was to be no ordinary ride home. This was a bus ride that, even years later, is still burned into the memory portions of my brain (those are somewhere in the upper middle, right?). When dealing with Muni, I suppose one should always expect the unexpected.

As I approached the bus shelter, I heard a loud, angry voice taking someone to task for being a “Lazy-Assed Cracker.” Soon it was revealed that the man attached to the voice was a tall fellow who would sporadically refer to himself in the third person. His name was Leroy. Leroy seemed to be pushing 60, though I suppose he could have been younger. One thing was for sure; Leroy was not new to the streets. He was crusty in a way that is almost special. It seemed that Leroy had maintained a long and devout abstinence to water, since Y2K was a genuine threat. Leroy’s hands were swollen, coated in years and layers of sedimentary funky junk and it dawned on me that Leroy’s claws have quite possibly touched many of the same public surfaces that mine have over the years (I resolved at once to stop biting my nails). His T-shirt advertised the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics and was so timeworn that maintaining its structure must have been accomplished through ancient magic long since forgotten.

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Good Cheer Delivered at Fillmore and O’Farrell

Photo by prawnpie

100 Muni StoriesEd. Note: This is the 1,000th post on Muni Diaries! Hooray! We’re working on a brand-new look for the site in the coming weeks, so stay tuned! And keep sending us your stories, photos, videos, and comments, because your life on Muni makes the site what it is. Now, without further interruption, here’s Rachel’s story.

I was on an early morning 22-Fillmore, the same bus and same driver I have most days. This driver is usually quiet and serious, barely acknowledging passengers (regulars and otherwise). This guy is infamous for not stopping at the Fillmore and Geary stop to take on passengers, and all the regulars would tell you the same thing, as we’ve all been passed by at least once or twice.

Our bus stopped at O’Farrell and a woman got on. She had several bags with her, and she handed them one by one to the driver. Then she leaned over the plexiglass partition and gave him a hug and a kiss.

“You have a good day now,” she told him.

“All right, you too, see you later,” he replied.

She got off the bus and stood on the sidewalk, waved to him, then crossed the street.

I don’t know what was in the bags but I like to think they were full of snacks for him to enjoy throughout the day, and some bottles of water or juice, and a thermos of coffee, maybe some magazines or the newspaper for him to read on his break. I hope the visit by his wife (or girlfriend) made his day.

Obit-lette: 38-Geary Ocean Beach

38 Geary Ocean Beach
Photo by Flickr user Jeremy Brooks

100 Muni StoriesIn 2009, several Muni lines got the axe. To further anthropomorphize our city transit system — and to be a bit silly about the cuts — we solicited Muni obituaries from our readers. We learned San Franciscans were more attached to their pet lines than we ever imagined, not just because of proximity or convenience. This part of Sara’s writeup, in its entirety below, says it all for me: “For me and my husband, that turn means we’re going home.”

The 38-Geary Ocean Beach was eliminated over the weekend along with other route segments. Here’s Sara’s obituary for it.

So we took what is probably our last ride on the 38 Geary Ocean Beach line Friday night — even waited a few extra moments in the dark and cold on Geary for it, turning our noses up at an earlier bus so that we could experience that heart-warming turn off at 33rd Avenue one last time. For me and my husband, that turn means we’re going home.

I suspect a lot of Geary riders hardly knew the Ocean Beach branch line existed, or if they did it was just as that annoying occasional bus that would suddenly and inexplicably turn off of Geary, just as they were approaching the end of the line. There was always a confused scramble for the exits just after the turn as riders found themselves suddenly traveling what they obviously thought was the wrong way. And inevitably, one old guy asking plaintively “Hey, does this bus go to the VA Hospital?”

It was my favorite bus line though, because it ran right by my front door on Balboa and carried me to and from all the busy spots on Geary where I needed to be. Also, it effectively doubled the bus service on what will now be a very quiet and poorly served residential stretch of Balboa. That especially matters to me because I work a late shift downtown, and there will now be fewer options and longer waits at midnight on Market street. Standing there under the streetlight with the other late-night stragglers, I always felt like I’d hit the jackpot when I saw the “Ocean Beach” sign on the front of the approaching bus.

Sure there is a Balboa bus, but it’s not terribly frequent. As Muni helpfully points out, I can take the regular Geary bus or the Fulton– only two blocks in either direction from Balboa– but they neglect to mention the fairly daunting hills involved or the size of those blocks. And I guess now they’re offering the rather piss-poor alternative of getting off the Geary at 33rd and waiting for an infrequent 18 bus to show up and take you down Balboa. But change buses to travel 10 blocks, and at midnight no less? No.

I was pleased to see another reader eulogize this line last week, because I figured nobody else cares. I’m well aware that my desire to see it continue is pretty selfish — I was often the only rider left by the time we reached my stop. But nevertheless, I’m going to miss you, 38 Ocean Beach.

Read last week’s eulogy for the 38-Geary Ocean Beach here.

Muni driver going the opposite of rogue

Photo by Flickr user Whole Wheat Toast

100 Muni StoriesThe following was originally left by Amy as a comment on “My own personal N-Judah.”

I used to always end up barely making it onto the last 17 leaving from West Portal — it stops at 11:30 on weekdays or something ridiculous. I could’ve always taken the M, but when it’s foggy and cold and nearly midnight, not to mention dark, if I saw that 17 as the M was pulling into West Portal station, I would take it. I would always be the last person left on the bus when I got off at my stop. I always figured it was because the SFSU kids were usually the only other people on the bus and they all got off near the dorms. One day though, the 17 had a new driver and about 10 minutes before the bus was to approach my stop, he stopped and said it was the end of the line.

I asked him why he was letting everyone off early, and he looked surprised. He then explained that the actual end of the line was at the Lake Merced entrance to ParkMerced because the bus had to go home eventually, and then asked if it was my first time taking the 17. And that was when I found out that the former driver had been going out of his way to drop me off at the stop right across the street from my apartment. I wish I had gotten the name or at least the number of the bus before I left the city — that kind man always, without fail, made sure I got to my stop, and I never realised he was going out of his way in time to thank him.

Oh, how we love an uplifting Muni story. Got one? Send it here.

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