Rider Adrian Covert casually mentioned on Twitter the other day that he “drove the N-Judah once.” The driver actually invited him into the cockpit, he says. So, of course, we chased him down for the story.
Here’s Adrian’s tale:
I was about a block away from the N-Judah stop at 9th/Irving when I saw that I just missed the train. I was bummed at first, until I heard another train pulling behind it (as often happens with the N). I started running…
The train pulled to a stop just as I was running across the street. The driver, however, refused to open the door. Following a nightmare week of nightmare Muni service, I stepped in front of the train, and told the driver I wouldn’t budge until he opened the door.
He opened the door and I sat right next to him so that I could vent. He then asked, “Sir, what train is this?” I replied this was the N-Judah, and that I hated Muni. He asked again, and pointed to the sign, which read “Train out of service. Sorry, No Passengers.”
I looked around and noticed I was the only person on the train. I accepted that this was my bad, and apologized for being an ass. He said that what most worried him most was how I ran in front of the train at the intersection. He talked about how long it took trains to stop.
When we arrived at the entrance of the Carl & Cole Tunnel, he stopped the train, stepped out of the driver area (cockpit?) and asked if I wanted to drive the train. “Are you serious?” I asked. “F*ck yeah I want to drive the train.”
I sat in the driver seat, and he showed me the kill switches and levers. He said, “I want you to take the train to top speed, and then slam the brakes so you can see how long it takes to stop.” He mentioned this tunnel was safe, in that it was straight without any switches.
I took it to about 40 mph, and slammed the brakes. Took about a hundred yards to come to a complete stop, still in the tunnel. His point made, he then retook the “wheel” and let me sit in the control room with him until I got off at my stop.
We’re so glad Adrian took the driver up on his offer.
Underground (not literally but figuratively) Muni? Muni after dark? Whatever you call this genre, we want to know about it. In the same vein, Muni Diaries’ own Tara once got a private ride on an off-duty 49, straight-chillin’, cigarette-smoking operator and all. If anyone deserved it, this person did. (More than a decade later, she’s still not naming names.)
Muni Diaries is made of your stories, whether you’re in the driver’s seat or not! Submit your own tale on the bus by emailing us at email@example.com, or tag us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook @munidiaries.
Carnaval this weekend offered up plenty of antidote for those of us tired of the “San Francisco is doomed/losing its soul/breaking your heart” meme. Our favorite is this group of young people who decided to turn their love for San Francisco up to 11. Not only did they dress up as old-school Muni transfers, they are also walking on stilts because, why not?
From the video, it looks like there is also a 14-Mission bus in costume at the parade. We would have loved to be a fly on the wall during the planning of this costume idea.
Thank you Rene and Cara on Twitter for pointing us to this latest ode to public transit! It’s certainly not the first bit of Muni transfer love we’ve gotten over the years. Alongside its Fast Pass cousin, the transfer is a well-established piece of transit ephemera, tattoo subject (the barometer for truly making it into the cultural canon around here), and source of existential outrage when news came about its environmentally necessary end.
Got other important news for your fellow riders? Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Our email inbox, firstname.lastname@example.org, is always open, too.
There is no age limit or generational requirement to appreciate Grand Master Flash, especially on Muni. From rider Ramona Soto via the Muni Diaries Facebook Page (which, of course, you are following, right?).
On the 14 Mission bus, a middle-aged man was blasting Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message.” Nobody was paying much attention to him. But just before getting off the bus, an older woman with a walker looked back and shouted, “Who’s playing that music?”
He shouted back, “Me!”
We all wondered what would come next, as she obviously had few inhibitions herself. Would she start screaming at him? Would he get violent?
Instead, she replied, as she hobbled toward the door, “Good! I LIKE that music.”
Then, still muttering as she exited the bus at 7th Street… “Yeah, I’M close to the edge. That’s RIGHT. You’d better believe it!”
Music does often unite riders, like we saw in this podcast episode where Aretha Franklin concert attendees banded together on BART. What did you see on your commute today? Submit your own tale on the bus by emailing us at email@example.com, or tag us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook @munidiaries.
…especially when this gaggle of Chinese grandmas is near. From rider Armand Domalewski, as posted on Facebook. Thanks to Armand and tipster @cratekane.
Today, I saw the best and the worst of San Francisco on a Muni bus.
I was precariously balancing a drink and a big ol’ bag of Goldfish as this well dressed older man shoved me aside to get to his seat. The Goldfish sprayed across the floor as the man sneered at me, and the drink slipped from my hand.
And yet—moments before a row of elderly Chinese grandmas tasted the energizing flavor of Monster Ultra Sunrise (TM), a tiny hand caught mine and steadied it.
One disaster abated! Yet, I still faced a bus full of Goldfish and regret. I slinked away in shame, taking part in the worst of San Francisco traditions—walking away from a mess and hoping someone else takes care of it.
But the grandmas—the grandmas looked so disappointed.
“We’ve lived here our whole lives, son. We love this City and we love its buses. We know you can do better, child,” their eyes told me.
I sighed, and shuffled over to sweep the floor with my shoes. It was awkward and inefficient—every time the bus moved, the pile of snacks moved with it.
I felt a tap on my shoulder—one of the grandmas smiled that classic gap toothed SF Chinese grandma smile at me, and offered a page of Sing Tao Daily.
(Yes, I did just subtly drop that I know the name of one of the major Chinese language newspapers in SF, I’m just that cultured, ladies. My DMs are open.)
Another grandma grabbed my drink and backpack, and I could feel a weird energy swell in the bus as a crowd of Chinese seniors began to chatter in excitement.
We’ve known for 11 years (more if you count our pre-Muni Diaries days) that damn near anything can happen on public transit. Today’s story, told by Sureni Weerasekera, contrasts the magic of good juju on BART with a distinctly Bay Area brand of racism and othering.
Sureni was born in Sri Lanka, raised in San Diego, and is currently based in SF doing stand-up comedy, writing, and acting. She’s a contributing writer and actor for “Life of Trying” and runs two of Berkeley’s top comedy shows, “Pizza Party” and “Subhumans.” Follow her on Instagram @sureni, and check out her upcoming shows at: https://surenicomedy.com/.