Ray of Hope on the Morning Commute

Sun, Fog, and Overhead Wires
Photo by Flickr user Telstar Logistics

100 Muni Stories7:13am, October 13, 2009.

The first big rain of the season; I stepped onto the 5-Fulton bus for my usual commute and felt like I had just battled a true typhoon. I went to my favorite seat immediately and settled down.

There were a couple of men talking about San Francisco; they were both recent transplants to the city, so they were making comparisons of their previous locations to The City. I felt like it was just a simple exchange of a few words, so I drifted off into my own thoughts, and onto a warm slumber during the 40-minute commute.

Rain poured outside while our bus driver perilously navigated the slick streets; meanwhile the two men continued to talk across the aisle with each other, until one, who introduced himself as “James”, decided he would just sit beside his new companion, who said his name was “Jack”.

As the bus continued on towards downtown, more passengers boarded with gloomy expressions over the unexpected rain. However, through the gray faces, Jack and James seemed to melt into their own world, sharing their life stories with one another.

Somehow, that small scene from this morning has stuck with me all day–that, amidst all the recent negative Muni coverage, there are still small beams of hope shining through all the mess.

Summer Ballet Season on Muni

As Light as Air
Photo by Flickr user aussiegall

San Francisco is lucky to have two great ballet companies right here in the city:  The San Francisco Ballet and Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet. However, along with these formidable dance institutions comes summer dance camp. You know it’s summer in the city when the teeny tiny little 14 year olds arrive on the #5 Fulton.

Every summer they arrive after the 4th of July and stay for a few weeks. The girls (and occasional boy) all stay at the vacant dorms at USF, but the ballet companies are all near the Civic Center. So every morning they all get on the bus in the middle of rush hour traffic. The #5 doesn’t get a lot of school kids in the morning so the ballerinas are an unwelcome gaggle of chatterboxes for the morning commuters.

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Photo Gallery: Inaccurate or Outdated Muni Signage

Found this amazingly neato photo set on Flickr the other day. It was shot and assembled by Octoferret, to whom we owe a humble thank you. In light of upcoming Muni lines slated for extinction, we feel this is a moving tribute to the routes that time has forgotten.

Twirlwind on the 21

From the Muni Diaries submissions inbox:

I used to ride the 5-Fulton every morning and afternoon to and from work. I’d hop on the bus either at Clayton or Masonic, hang on for dear life, and thirty minutes later, arrive (slightly windblown and disheveled) at either my fantastic place of employment or within a half-block of my abode. From June through early August, San Francisco Ballet’s summer school students take the 5 to and from USF. The good thing is these students are very well behaved. They keep an eye out for the elderly and parents with young children, move their large dance bags filled with pointe shoes, iPods, and breakfast (bagels and bananas), stay mostly quiet in the early mornings, and travel in small groups.

And I stress this last part because a few years ago, two new dance summer programs started housing their students at USF, and they traveled in packs. And by packs, I mean 30+ students at a time, on their cell phones constantly, and heaving their bags to and fro like boulders. These new kids made riding Muni during rush hour a living nightmare. And it’s not just the sheer mass of them now 60 dance students at a bus stop is just crazy in and of itself… But that combined with the attitude of the newbies is a lot to handle at 8AM.

So what’s an intelligent, city-minded girl to do? Switch bus lines, right? Oh, wrong. Two years ago, I switched to the 21-Hayes bus line. It’s an extra few blocks walk south from the Fulton line. It’s a quieter, more local bus line. Neighbors are friendly, most people are pleasant, and the drivers, if they see a regular hobbling in three inch heels and frantically waving her bus pass while dragging her gym bag behind her, will hold the bus and say, “It’s good to see you!” as she climbs aboard. Who can’t heart the 21-line? Well, right now, me!

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A Letter to a Fellow Passenger

Waiting for a phone call.
Photo by Flickr user Mylla

The use of cell phones appears to be the biggest bus etiquette faux pas this week. Rider Sara had an earful of phone conversation on the 5 from “Caroline” so she’s written her a personal letter here.

Caroline, summer student at the Lines Ballet School at USF, SHUT THE HELL UP.

The next time you think it’s a good idea to get on a completely packed 5 during evening rush hour and make phone call after phone call, why don’t you actually stop and think about it. And realize it is a terrible idea. I don’t need to hear you scream to your friend that, after much consideration, you decided you’d like to go to law school at Harvard or Yale. Oh, wow, it took consideration to realize the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked law schools in the nation are where you need to be? Good luck fighting for those spots with the million other idealistic kids who are going to apply to law school this year.

But as you said, your dad is right, you’re a shoe-in. I mean, you did three practice LSAT questions and got them all right! Congratulations. And your dream of going to law school so you can work at a nonprofit? I hope you’re willing to fight with the zillion laid off lawyers and deferred incoming associates whose law firms are paying them to go work at nonprofits.

Fortunately, I was able to turn my Kanye West up loud enough to drown out whatever you said next. That is, until you took the empty seat next to me and proceeded to call person after person at USF to inquire about the iPod you lost on campus today. It probably got stolen while you were on the 5 by someone like me who wanted you to pay dearly for making their commute more irritating than usual. I hope whoever stole it is enjoying the Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson you most likely have on that damn thing.

Got a Muni gripe or a holler? Let us know.

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