Storyteller Kathleen Auterio is a longtime Mission resident who got along famously with rival groups staking their claims in the neighborhood—an affable quality that came in handy when she and fellow passengers on the 49 got caught in the crosshairs of a potential firefight.
Everyone drops to the ground with their faces against the Muni floor (ew!), and the typically unflappable Mission expert describes how she handled the tough situation alongside her neighbors.
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.
Growing up in New York, the subway served as training grounds for people watching for artist George McCalman. When he moved to San Francisco, Muni naturally became his first inspiration of observing life in the city. In today’s podcast episode, George shares why he founds Muni riders so fascinating, and how this resulted in his Observed column in the San Francisco Chronicle.
George sent us the drawing of the stylish grandmother he spotted on the bus, and you can see many more of his drawings on and off the bus by following him on Instagram @mccalmanco.
Sketching life on Muni seems to be a favorite past time of many riders and submissions (including this fun time-lapsed video of a portrait on Muni). Perhaps the same fashionable lady was the Muni fashion muse from rider Meli? One can only hope.
Muni Diaries is made of your stories, whether it’s in drawing, prose, or poetry form. Submit your own tale on the bus by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tag us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook @munidiaries.
Transcript of this podcast episode:
I moved to Brooklyn in 1980 with my mother. We moved up to the island of Granada in the West Indies and I was overwhelmed with the sights and the senses and the aesthetics of New York City. I remember going into the subway, and looking around and realizing that I could settle my eyes on the people who were sitting around me.
Meet Letizia and Nathan, a couple traveling the world and Instagramming their adventures along the way. A recent leg of their trip brought them to SF, and it sounds like they experienced some of our most striking dualities. The Mission, they observed, was “where families fight to retain their homes, history, community, livelihoods threatened by increased property prices. Soon signs saying established in 1961 will be taken down and replaced by vegan burger bars frequented by lumberjacks who are yet to fell a tree.”
They wrote us on Facebook because they were lucky enough to meet Muni driver Tammy, hands-down one of the best people we’ve met through Muni Diaries. From their IG post:
On the way home, we connect with the bus driver She had so many questions about why we would travel the world and what prompted us to do this trip. Between stops she told us her story is one of loss, courage, and strength. Losing her son to a drunk driver, she set up a project to help family’s [sic] facing similar pain. Sharing tears and hugs at the end of our ride. What a beautiful, inspiring ‘random’ connection to make!