For work, I had to go into the edge of the Tenderloin one afternoon just as schools were letting out. I didn’t get what I needed for work, but I did witness a drug deal, so I suppose I got my afternoon’s entertainment out of the trip. I hopped on a 47 on Van Ness to get back to Market Street.
For starters, it was full of high-school students, who were clotted into the back of the bus and screaming at one another. As far as I can tell, they weren’t screaming anything intelligible, they were JUST SCREAMING. After two blocks, the bus came to a stop and the driver said, “We’re having mechanical problems. Everyone has to get off the bus and wait for the next one.”
Whoever wrote that song about one being a lonely number had it wrong. One, in fact, is the best number, at least in the Muni universe. My search for a new place to call home has mostly brought me to the Richmond and Sunset areas, putting me on the foreign 38-Geary and, today, the 1-California.
There isn’t enough time or space to explain everything that’s wrong with the 38. But what I have to say about the 1 is (hopefully) shortish and sweet.
This has to be the best bus route in SF. A friend said this is among the highest-rated lines for on-time performance and, incidentally, is the one Mayor Gavin Newsom uses. Seeing as how Muni funds are being slashed left and right, I can’t say the latter is that compelling a fact. But anyway…
At the time I was living in Russian Hill and every morning would take the 30 to the Caltrain station downtown.
I was seated in the back of the bus, across from a severely pregnant woman accompanied by her younger brother. Her crop top left her swollen midriff exposed, a canvass displaying an array of stretch marks. She carried a cloud of tension with her onto the bus; her disposition was that of dynamite with a lit fuse. She swore and gesticulated so loudly that within no time she had commandeered the apprehensive attention of everyone on the bus. No one else dared speak in the shadow of such a volatile person.
I can almost see this becoming a recurring theme here on Muni Diaries: Rides that are so long, and traverse so many neighborhoods and socio-economic levels, they have time to … not mature, per se, but to change course dramatically in their demographic makeup.
Case in point: Yesterday, around 6 p.m., I boarded the 30 on Third and Harrison. There was a Giants game earlier in the day, but it ended around 4. Still, there was one couple sitting toward the back of the bus who had clearly left the game a little late, he borderline passed out, she leaning over his lap. The only coherent thing I heard from them the entire time was a plea from him: “No, PG-13, baby, PG-13.” I didn’t dare look.
December 2004: It was raining on the platform on 19th avenue across from SF state. There weren’t too many people waiting, telling me I had just missed the outbound M. Amazingly enough, though, there was another coming in about two minutes. Not enough time to pull out a magazine. And plus, it was a windy rain, and the platform roof wouldn’t have done much to protect the pages.
I noticed only one other rider on my end of the platform: an Asian guy with a football team’s baseball hat. Maroon. 49ers. Very everyday San Francisco.
We boarded the M, shoes squeaking in that way that they do only on rainy days inside a Muni train. I sat down and he took his seat in the row directly in front of me. No one else was on in the front of the train where we were.
A couple of stops later, now in Oceanview, two young women got on. They seemed to be SF State students as well, but not your mid-career, second-degree type. No, they were young. If I had to guess, I’d say 19, maybe 20.
Okay, bear with me while I post a couple of years-old stories from aboard Muni. Here’s the first:
March 2006: As I stood waiting for the 22 at 16th and Mission, I noticed a somewhat attractive woman approach the stop. A couple minutes later, the bus arrived, and seeing as how there were only a couple of other boarders besides myself, I kindly let this woman get on first.
I stood patiently behind her as she approached the fare machine, and she had some kind of words with the driver. I couldn’t quite make out what she said, but I did notice that she neglected to pay.
She turned and started walking back on a medium-filled coach. She took a couple of steps away from the machine, and as she did, I stepped up. With people behind me waiting to get on still standing outside the bus, I was doing my best to keep the flow of bus traffic moving steadily along.