Friday, March 18, 2005

MUNI, unplugged

I wondered what I might be missing in my daily commute, with my iPod and book, so tonight on the bus home, I unplugged.

Two women and a man stood near me, my eyes level with their belts. The first woman was speaking a language I couldn't identify, maybe Tagalog?

Woman #1: [Unidentifiable language]

Man: Poltergeist, cemetery.

Woman #1: [Language blah blah] ...friends from medical school, and I went for my interviews. [more language - is it Spanish?] So, the night before [blah blah, nope, not Spanish, maybe an Asian language, but not one I know] it's a voice, & I can see down by the foot of the bed, & rising up [language - wait, did she say niƱo?] and I'm like, scared...

Woman #2: Eeeee!

I look up at them, and we all break out laughing. They're much younger than I expected, Woman #1 is wearing braces.

Man (to me): Scary story, huh?

I nod.

Man (to Wo #1): Next day, next day.

Wo #1: So the next day [blah blah now I'm thinking Tagalog again] across the street, this little cemetery...

I wait for the second bus at Fillmore & Haight, across the street from Whole Foods. There's a flat above the store, its window open, light on, they've been painting a rich red, hint of pink. I've seen the boys that live there on sunny days, leaning on the sill, smoking. Tonight it's dumping rain. Two white boys set a boom box on top of the garbage can and turn it on.

The driver looks me up and down. I think some of the people on this bus rode in with me this morning.

We pass the Vapor Room, Golden Triangle, Dreams of Kathmandu, Pipe Dreams. A hipster with mutton chops, soul patch, rolling his own. A grandly fat woman, a hundred smooth braids, opens her kid-size umbrella, it just covers her head. A tall brown boy with painfully sweet eyes.

UCSF medical center. A woman is wheeled out strapped tight on a gurney, her face turned up, casually chatting with the orderly.

It's dusk. Blue cell phone glow, flowered umbrella, rain slicker.

I love this city, I love this city, I love this city.

4 comments:

Daniel Heath said...

the other day I'm walking down san pablo in front of my workplace and I hear one guy say to the other,

"they're always drinking fucking coffee out of peanut butter jars."

I just kept walking.

beth said...

It's amazing what you can pick up in cities if you just open your eyes and ears, isn't it? (Though I live in a different city, it's all the same...)

monkey#5 said...

Yeah, I tried that on the subway once - the F from Queens into Bklyn thru NYC. Nice man with a mouth full of rotting teeth and 3 gold crowns. Thinning hair. A blue long coat with a tear near the right pocket.

I smiled weakly, a "isn't this the longest subway ride in the whole world?" thing.

He flashed me.

Anonymous said...

I love MUNI too. I see some amazing things now and then.

For example, a few months ago an elderly African gentleman sat beside me, complete with enchanting accent, wearing a flowing white robe and a big walking stick complete with twists, burls and whatnot.

I couldn't resist complementing him on his beautiful staff, so I did.

"It's alive," he told me nicely, "so don't touch it. It's very powerful."

I asked if I might admire and complement it, which I did with the utmost respect.
He may have been nuts, but he was gracious and had a living walking stick with great powers.

I love this city.