Playing Muni driver, if only for a few minutes

After a disturbing post-apocalyptic (or was it simply apocalyptic?) week, we’re bringing you a throwback tale of simpler times when the highlight of your year is when the Muni driver let you in on a few secrets. Today’s podcast episode was brought to you by rider Tara, who caught a Muni driver in a bit of a casual mood and fun ensues. Yes, a Muni ride that was actually…fun!

I hurry over to a bus, after seeing it parked at the stop I needed. No need to hurry, though. The driver jogged up behind me, asked where I was headed, and if I wanted a ride. I naturally assume this is driver humor; Haha! A ride, I get it. On the bus that I was trying to get on, that’s going to the very neighborhood I needed? Ha!

I guess it wasn’t really a joke. I walked over to the doors as he unlocked them, and saw the number for a line I totally didn’t want. At this point, Woman Reflex kicked in. Is this the worst kind of Muni Loony, the kind who beat up or killed a real Muni driver and stole his bus and outfit, and is now giving “rides” to women walking around alone? Instead of overreacting, I asked him what line this was. He told me what it was, but said he was just coming off his shift, and was going to be dropping it off at a Muni lot near(ish) where I was going. My intuition is pretty good, it wasn’t an odd hour, and I needed to get to where I was going ASAP. Also, I knew I could deal a pretty hefty kick in the nuts if I needed to, and it was pretty clear that he didn’t have a gun in his Muni outfit.

My intuition served me well, because he was indeed harmless. He strapped himself in the driver’s seat right away, limiting any no-goodnik-mobility, so I relaxed some. Oh, and I got to change the side and front banners to “Not in Service.” That’s right. Did you miss it?

I got to change the banners to say “Not in Service.”

It’s a pretty simple task on the older buses. Unlike the digital ones that can probably be changed with a couple stabs at a button, these signs move if you flick a switch that scrolls through all the different Muni numbers. Indicators from the inside of the bus tell you what it says on the outside, so I stopped once it got to what I wanted. Easy. And awesome.

Listen to the rest of her story, read by reader Amanda Staight:

To be fair, we have had a few stories where Muni drivers surprise the passengers, like this one time when a rider got to briefly drive an N, when the operator gave a rider some timely life advice, or when this driver played some Jedi mind tricks with the line number. Oh, those innocent times!

We’ll keep the stories coming on our podcast all the same, so if you have a story to share about life in San Francisco, pitch us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on any of your favorite listening apps.

Photo by @hamster@peter

Late-night Muni always provides

Over on the Muni Diaries Twitter wire, readers tipped us to Michael’s late-night N-Judah Muni tale, which he captured in his Flickr account. Oh, how we miss the after hours “Temporary Autonomous Zone” on Muni, where you never know who you’ll meet or what will happen.

It was just after closing time at the bar, and two groups of skaters got on the bus along with a host of other characters. Somehow, different strangers on the bus offer our narrator drugs, booze, and a surprisingly thoughtful detail for both. Here’s Michael’s story:

Both of my preferred seats are occupied so I’m sitting in the last row + middle seat. There’s Junkie Guy to my left who is sitting in the corner seat and has turned the seat between us into his living room where all of his worldly possessions are spread out as he frantically rearranges his living space. A bunch of skaters in their 20s get on and sit in front of me and one of them starts playing a country western type song on his phone and they all start singing along to lyrics that are all about a love song to cocaine. 

Junkie Guy instantly looks up and starts asking if any of the skaters have cocaine and they’re all, “No, it’s just a song.” Then they further explained that the guy singing on the phone does not have any cocaine to share either. Sorry, Junkie Guy, false alarm.

Then another group of skaters with a case of beer get on the back of the bus. They recognize the first group of skaters and start talking about their night. I get the impression that their paths crossed earlier in the day and now they are crossing again on the Night Owl on the way home.

I really like those moments where everyone’s story comes full circle and these different storylines converge, like the end of Dazed & Confused. I also like getting to know all of my neighbors that keep the same hours that I do but are part of different scenes.

Here we all are, the disco queens, the punk rockers, the junkies, the preppies, it’s the 2AM Breakfast Club. This is where we all End Up. All the people that did not feel like paying money to take an Uber home in a timely fashion, all on the crazy train headed off into The Sunset, all in the No Man’s Land Temporary Autonomous Zone / wretched hive of scum and villainy that is the back of the bus. 

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A new anthem for Muni riders

Remember those days when our biggest problem was getting this oversized dresser out of the train at Civic Center Station, or figuring out the best angle to film a wriggling dildo stuck in a bus stop? We miss those days, too. Today, we celebrate the 100th episode of the Muni Diaries podcast, featuring a hilariously NSFW ode to being considerate to fellow humans on the bus.

This episode features songwriter Jefferson Bergey, a professional musician based in Oakland and a regular performer at Bawdy Storytelling. He wrote a new song called “Give Up Your Seat” just for Muni Diaries, and even added a sexy love song about BART as a bonus to this episode. We highly recommend you put on those headphones (or blast it at full volume!) to add some levity to your day—especially now that “NSFW” is mostly “Are your kids in the room?”

Listen to our 100th episode:

While many of us haven’t been on a bus lately, we will continue to bring you stories from everyday San Franciscans. Nothing says “we’re in it together” more than that collective shout of, “Back door!” forever burned into our brains and hearts.

Send your stories to muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us @munidiaries on FacebookTwitterInstagram.

Photo by Amanda Roosa.

Your weekend podcast list, Muni Diaries edition

Finishing off week two of sheltering in place, we’ve gathered some fun stories from Muni Diaries Live alums for this weekend. The weather forecast predicts rain, and we hope these podcasts give you a little reprieve, and if you are able, please do support these storytellers and projects.

Learn more about San Francisco history with Shaping San Francisco. The good folks behind Shaping San Francisco are putting their walking and biking tours on pause, but you can enjoy being an armchair historian by listening to their free public talks at home. Topics range from “hidden San Francisco” to “Valencia Street as a Lesbian Corridor: Living Memories” and more.

How to support: Become a patron at Shaping San Francisco’s Patreon page.

Enjoy comedic podcasts hosted by reigning Muni Haiku champion Wonder Dave: Mental Health Comedy Hour and Nerd Rage: the Great Debate. Wonder Dave has reigned supreme with his 5-7-5 rhymes, but when he’s not writing public transit poems (which he really just does twice a year), he’s hosting some very funny, and very nerdy podcasts. Tune in to those podcasts to debate timeless topics like, “Which female superhero reigns supreme in the world of DC comics?”

How to support: Become a patron on Wonder Dave’s Patreon page.

An ode to Muni and BART operators who are working every day to get people from one essential task to another: listen to Kurt Schwartzmann’s story at Muni Diaries Live. Kurt told this story last summer about how Muni drivers provided him the only refuge when he was living on the street.

We’ll keep the stories coming here on MuniDiaries.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Photo by @mwichary.

To eat or not to eat the burrito on Muni?

I’ve gotten happy hour at Phone Booth -> El Farolito -> hopping the 14-Mission or 49-Van Ness/Mission right outside down to a science. I am still working on tamping down the wild-animal desire to tipsily horse into a burrito around innocent people during the ride home.

I’m not the only one who gets comfortable on the bus with tummy fuel: there was a full-on food fight on the J-Church a while back, an errant drumstick, and a forward-thinking passenger using time wisely to prep dinner on the bus. But I suppose it is rude to subject riders to my food smells and napkin-less abandon.

I showed admirable (ADMIRABLE) restraint this time around, but have definitely been guilty of destroying these bad boys on a BART platform (and then in the train) between 24th/Mission and Civic Center. That’s not a long ride, folks, and it was not that late.

What say ye, folks: Throw proper etiquette to the wind (you’ll take our bus burritos from our cold dead hands!) or keep it together until you get home?

A reminder of rainy day dos and don’ts on Muni

The weather forecast calls for three more days of rain, which could mean 72 more hours of improper umbrella use on Muni. Let’s review some important rainy-day etiquette: umbrellas are still best used outdoors rather than deployed inside the bus to deter people from sitting next to you, as in the above photo from Aaron on Twitter.

Fewer people than we thought got the memo…

Photo by @cyclones01

Once you do board with your brolly, remember to keep it folded up, no matter how outdoorsy it might be.

patio_brella
Photo by EC

There is, however, one acceptable circumstance for an indoor umbrella on Muni…

An occasional necessity around here, umbrellas are such a hassle—see this compelling case against them. My recommendation? Forgo those pesky nylon menaces and just wear a proper raincoat instead.

pug
Photo by @dearamerican

Got other rainy day pet peeves or tips? Our inbox is open for your suggestions! Email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com or tag us @munidiaries on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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