San Francisco Diaries: Check your assumptions in the checkout line

I can’t think of how many times I’ve thought of a witty comeback too late, especially when someone behaves badly in public. But have you ever imagined what it would be like if you actually said what you wanted to say in that moment? Storyteller Justina Wu shares a story of an encounter when she spoke her mind in the moment, with some surprising results.

Listen to her story:

Justina is a writer, storyteller, and producer of Beyond Borders Storytelling, a series of travel-themed workshops and story jams. Justina was on stage at Muni Diaries Live a few years ago (check out her first story in episode 12 on Apple Podcast or Google Play.) And mark your calendars for the next show on August 14 at PianoFight in the Tenderloin.

Featured photo by @saintsimonanu. Post photo by @roopisonfire.

If you have your own San Francisco story to share, email us your pitch at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com! And please share this podcast with your friends and rate is on Apple Podcast!

San Francisco Diaries: Listeners sound off on the city’s existential crisis

sunset sky 10th and Market San Francisco

Our previous episode featured Smiley Poswolsky, a self-described Millennial workplace expert who quit his stuffy Washington, D.C. job to become a writer in San Francisco. His story about personal growth and change, with NOPA/Western Addition in a prominent guest-starring role, really got our listeners talking more broadly about the state of our city—a hot topic lately.

For this episode, we invited Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight from The San Francisco Chronicle, and Bernalwood blog founder Todd Lappin, to give us their take on San Francisco’s oft-discussed existential crisis, and to share their own experiences with this town we call home.

Got something to say about Smiley’s story or the state of our city? Email us your thoughts at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us #sanfranciscodiaries on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Pic by roopisonfire

Applause-worthy way to combat prejudice on Muni, especially during Pride…

Yesterday I crossed over. I became one of “those people,” the ones who fail to pretend not to hear the crazy shit that people say on public transportation.

“White people always pay their fare,” white dude sitting across from me said. Loudly, because I could hear it through the music I was listening to in the earbuds. He said it again. “White people always pay their fare.”

“That’s not true,” I said.

He looked shocked and surprised that someone had responded and that someone was me.

The conversation continued as you might expect: “What country are you from?”

“I was born here.”

“I wasn’t raised a racist. I’m not racist. I’m not prejudiced. Are you?”

I confessed that sometimes I did harbor some prejudices and that I thought most people did.

“Speak for yourself!” He said.

He had the gall to try to cozy up to me by talking up our shared historical cultural experiences (because railroad building apparently), trying to create an “us vs. them” connection, presumably “us vs. other black and brown people.”

And then when he figured out that I was a “bleeding heart,” he started accusing me of being someone who would hire a bunch of “illegals from China” if I could, [just] to undercut his wages.

“In America,” he said, “we don’t live like they do.”

“I’m tired of hearing you,” piped up a young white man from the back of the bus to this dude.

“This is America. This is my First Amendment right,” the dude said.

“Well, it’s my First Amendment right to tell you to shut up.”

“Fuck you!”

Angry dude starts to get off the bus and young dude in the back of the bus said, “It’s also my right to do this!” and began sexily kissing his boyfriend sitting next to him.

Angry dude starts screaming, “F____t!” But the door of the bus has closed, and we’ve started moving.

It was the weekend of Pride. 

Photo and story submitted by Shirley Huey on Instagram.

Oh, that sweet, sweet bus revenge as the back door closed in on the angry dude—and on Pride weekend, too!  Thank you to rider Shirley for submitting this tale. It’s good to know that your fellow riders have your back.

For another tale of homophobia and other F-bombs on the bus, check out former Muni haiku champion Jesse James’s story about his Little Mermaid backpack. And, for other empowering bus justice tales, tuck into the time when an unwelcome hand wandered the wrong direction, or when someone tried to body shame another passenger.

Our commutes are a mere microcosm of life in San Francisco, and we are always looking for your stories to round out the experience. Add your own diary to our collective online journal by tagging us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter, or email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com.

Artist tips his cap to Muni, a refuge in tougher times

As he carted his belongings to the bus stop, Kurt Schwartzmann knew that he relied on the kindness of the Muni driver, lest he face another cold night on the streets of San Francisco. When the bus door opened on one particular night, he was relieved to see the familiar face.

This was a lifetime ago, before Schwartzmann conquered his struggle with drug addiction, found his way as an artist, and met his now-husband. While he was homeless, Muni had become the refuge for Schwartzmann.

Schwartzmann, who has lost sight in one eye due to complications to AIDS, dedicated his art series, “Yellow Line,” to the Muni drivers whose empathy helped him survive those difficult times. His art has been exhibited at the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and at City College of San Francisco.

We first met Schwartzmann on Instagram when he posted about his art series, and we were thrilled that he told his story at Muni Diaries Live in April at Rickshaw Stop.

Growing up in Fresno as a young gay man, Schwartzmann said that San Francisco had always been a symbol for “freedom of expression and refuge from intolerance.”  In honor of Pride weekend, we are sharing his story in today’s podcast episode. Take a listen:

If you have your own Pride story to share, email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook @munidiaries.

Photo credit: RightAngleImages.