Thursday, January 29, 2009

M - Ocean View

Dear Readers,
Please forgive the break. A change in life circumstances calls for a change in time management, which I think I almost have a handle on now. The city has only gotten busier and crazier in the past few months, which of course makes for more exciting MUNI adventures. Thanks for reading and check back soon for more!

Line - M Ocean View, Inbound

Date: April 27, 2008
Weather Conditions: Hot & Windy

Time: 1:32 p.m.
First Stop: San Jose Avenue & Geneva Avenue

I mosey out of the BART station. I've gotten cocky about catching the trains down here. Whenever I show up, the train I want appears. Magic.

But, today is a little different. The first M stop isn't in the same area as the K or J. NextMuni says San Jose and Geneva and a sign in the Metro Terminal says the train loads at the safety island on San Jose south of Geneva. Away I go.

Safety Island: A misnomer, don't you think?

I walk out to San Jose and instead of just looking for the platform, I get all tripped up wondering which way is south. Rationality takes over the confusion and I walk over to the bus shelter, which is on the sidewalk. In the middle of the street is a "safety island." It doesn't seem very safe because you have to dart out in the middle of the busy street to get on it. Oh, MUNI.

In any case, I count 24 people between the two areas -- not a good sign. It's really hot and everyone seems kind of annoyed. Hopefully my magic MUNI-On-Demand powers will kick in soon.

An outbound M drops people off in the middle of San Jose. Not at a safety island, not near the sidewalk, but in the middle of the road. People start run-walking everywhere, dodging cars and trying to make it to sidewalk. It's like a game of human Frogger. This is so backwards.

I start getting annoyed about having to wait so I check NextMuni on my phone. It says the first stop is Geneva Terminal. Huh? Also, the train will be here in 10 minutes. Since the goal is to ride from the first to last stop and I have time, I decide to poke around. There's a train graveyard so I walk around looking for this mystery terminal. Nothing.

Just as I walk back, an M pulls up and everyone starts to board. That was more like two minutes, but whatever. I'm pretty annoyed because by the time I get over to the island the train pulls away. It goes about five feet before it comes to a halt.

The magical M, coming out of nowhere.

About 45 seconds later, everyone deboards. What's going on?

Time: 1:46 p.m.

I stand on the safety island next to a mom wearing blue scrubs. Her daughter, who's maybe about eight, gives me a look. I ask, "What's going on?"

Mom-in-scrubs sighs and says, "I don't know, he just let everybody off. It was strange, we were all ready to go."

The driver walks up and down the island, dialing on his cell. Some people are still on the train. Other people get exasperated and start walking. If only they knew.

"I don't understand," says Mom, "we were moving just fine." I shrug unhelpfully, the little girl scowls at me. I scowl back. Beastly child.

The driver comes from around the back, talking on his phone. "It just doesn't work, let me try again." He gets in the train and it makes a gear grinding noise.

Time: 1:53 p.m.

Another driver appears. "What's wrong?" he asks our driver.

"It doesn't work from the inside, man."

The two of them stand around for a minute looking puzzled. Our driver sighs and says, "Ok, everyone get inside."

Our driver shakes his head at the other driver. "I've been doing this for 29 years, I have no idea what's going on." Twenty-nine years? I am shocked that he's been at the same job for so long. Wow.

There's a mad rush as everyone clamors on the train. I get on, someone has taken my usual spot. I'm a little bothered, but whatever, I'm glad to finally just be on the train. I notice a man in a wheelchair who looks incredibly bored. The boredom doesn't much longer though because the driver goes up to the guy and says, "Sorry my friend, I need you to get off."

There is lots of yelling, both from Wheelchair Guy and the other riders. "I've been riding this line forever, and I've never had a problem!" Other people yell at the driver, "Can't you see? He's DISABLED!" This goes on for a few minutes. The driver keeps apologizing. Mom-in-scrubs sighs. A couple of old ladies speaking loudly to themselves comment on how the driver is "absolutely terrible." From the back, some guy yells, "You couldn't have done that earlier?"

Once Wheelchair Guy gets off the train moves without a problem. I have no idea what the train not moving and a wheelchair had to do with each other but I guess, hey, it's MUNI. Things don't need to make sense.

Outfit love!

Everyone settles into their seats but it still feels tense on the train. It probably doesn't help that it's like 85 degrees and there was over a 20 minute wait for the train. A teenager sits across from me smacking her gum. An older woman a few rows back recognizes her. "Hey girl! How you been?"

"Oh, hey! I'm good!"

"Where you headed on such a warm day?"

"Aww, I gotta go to work. I work down at Champs, it's my style, you know?"

"Oh girl, I know. Well good for you!"

Time: 1:55 p.m.
Stop: San Jose Avenue & Lakeview Avenue

Mom-in-Scrubs gets off with her daughter. I'm surprised they waited that long just to go two blocks. I would have been so mad. A woman wearing an orange shirt gets up just before the doors close and says, "Thank you" really loud.

We continue on and look like we're headed to Daly City. We're kind of up high and there's a nice view of a valley of trees

Time: 1:57 p.m.
Stop: Broad Street & Orizaba Avenue

A lot of people get on at this stop. The already warm train gets warmer and smells sweaty. Gross. A couple sits behind me. The man has a thick accent. Based on the conversation they're having I would say they're on a blind date. We pass a house that has RC Cola boxes stacked up. The car lurches. The more I look around the train I realize how scratched up and dirty the windows are. Is carving gibberish into the windows necessary?

Window art, meet street art.

Time: 2:00 p.m.
Stop: Randolph Street & Bright Street

Dismayed by the gross windows, I focus my attention to eavesdropping on the blind date couple.

The woman asks the man, "Do they celebrate Mother's Day in South America? In Venezuela?"

"Umm, yes. Yes, they do."

"When is it?"

"The 15th? I don't know."

Their conversation is pretty standard and boring up until this point so I start losing interest. Then she asks, "Are you going to send a card?"

Instead of answering yes or no, he says, "I love her. I'm very attached to her, but not overprotective." Huh? I am lost in translation. The woman responds, "That's nice."

The neighborhood we ride through is very residential but I am noticing a lot of Christian churches scattered in between the houses.

Time: 2:02 p.m.
Stop: Randolph Street & Arch Street

More people get on. No one moves back so it takes forever to get everyone on board. Behind me I hear an adamant, "I just don't like Florida!"

The blind date couple is still discussing family. The woman asks about the guy's father. "Does he know you're a landlord?"

"Oh. I never met him. He died."

"Oh. Did you go to the funeral?"

"No, because I never knew him."

Fed up, he starts asking her questions. "What about your father?"

"Oh. We've never met."

"Have you wanted to meet?"

"I would have to hunt for him. If we meet, it will be because of my effort."

I am baffled by their inability to coherently or completely answer each other's questions.

We pass a street called Byxbee, which reminds me of Ramona Quimby for some reason. I decide that when I get a dog I will name it Byxbee.

Time: 2:06 p.m.
Stop: 19th Avenue & Holloway Avenue

The train is completely packed by the time we reach SF State, but no matter. Tons of State kids push their way onto the train. I notice a lot them stop to pay. Do they not get school-issued passes? A seat in front of me opens up and two loud blond girls sit down. "I want to sit on your lap!!!"

All I can think is, "Hella State kids."

Inane chatter in front of me continues: "So wait, what are those beans called?"


"I can't say that, it's too hard!"

The topic changes, "Oh my GOD, I wanted to get out of the bar soooo bad!"

We are still stopped waiting for all of the State kids to cram into the train. The blind date couple decides enough is enough and they get off. The woman next to me moves to take their seat and another woman carrying a Neiman Marcus takes her seat immediately. She is incredibly fancy looking with an ornate scarf held in place with a big sparkly brooch. My seat partner sticks out amidst all the jeans and SFSU sweatshirts, but in a good way. It's rare, but it's nice to see some class on MUNI.

The train finally starts to move again. Two young guys wearing designer jeans talk about going to Vegas. I hear a shriek from the blonds in front of me. "I can TOTALLY drink as much as you!"

"Whatever! Last night was awesome. I saw Nick and we did a LOT of stuff." They giggle.

The train starts going through a bushy corridor. I watch as branches pass along the windows. My moment of peace is disrupted by another shriek and more loud commentary. "I feel like when she gets mad her hair gets bigger!" I stare at the identical set of long, blond flat ironed hair in front of me. Straight hair is such a mystery.

The fancy lady next to me tries peering into my notebook.

Time: 2:17 p.m.
Stop: West Portal Avenue & 14th Avenue

The drive makes an announcement "West Portal Station--coming up!" In our part of the train I count eight Blackberries. Ridiculous.

I also saw THE most amazing cane ever.

We sit and wait for awhile. In the meantime, the blondes discuss their man troubles. Blond #1 says, "I don't get it. We hooked up last night AND last weekend. Now he's going to Tahoe this weekend with another girl!" Blonde #2 shakes her head sympathetically. Blonde #1 continues angrily, "Every guy I talk to is a piece of shit or just way too intense!"

Time: 2:25 p.m.

We are still stopped. The blondes are still whining about dudes. The fancy lady is still trying to read my notebook. The train is still hot. Ugh.

The driver's voice comes on again, "Umm, we're going to wait for awhile." Awesome. Some girl in the front asks, "WHAT THE FUCK?"

We finally move into the station when there is another announcement. This one is indecipherable except for, "There is something wrong with the train." The doors open and bodies pour out of the train.

Me, the old people, the State kids and tourists looking confused. We all stand around, bored, annoyed and hot.

Oh Muni, waiting and waiting. Waiting on you.

Time: 2:31 p.m.

Another train pulls up and if we weren't at capacity on the last train, we are now. I don't get a seat and my notes become rather sketchy. Somewhere on the train someone is blasting "Pomp & Circumstance." Really?

Time: 2:37 p.m.
Stop: Church Street Station

Memories of graduation day have passed and now the woman behind me is heaving. I'm really hoping she's not having a heart attack or is about to puke. To the side of me is a girl with a giant case, it sort of looks like it might hold an instrument, but who knows.

Time: 2:39 p.m.
Stop: Van Ness Station

The heaving lady and the giant case girl both get off. The train clears out a little bit, but not enough for anyone to feel like they can breathe yet. I start anticipating my exit. In 10 minutes or so the longest ride ever will be over! YES!

Time: 2:41 p.m.
Stop: Civic Center Station

The train comes to a quick halt and I almost topple over. A homeless guy I see around work gets on the train. He gets a seat.

I also almost toppled because I was obsessed with these tights.

Thank you Jesus, the train empties. It's beyond me why on such a beautiful day anyone would opt to go to the mall but I really can't complain since for the first time in about half an hour I feel like I can breathe. Also I sit down.

Just a on a quick Sunday ride.

Time: 2:43 p.m.
Street: Montgomery Street Station

The homeless guy gets off. We sit in the station for a minute or so. There aren't too many people left on the train. I wonder what they're doing down in the Financial District on a Sunday afternoon.

Time: 2:46
Stop: Embarcadero Station

I'm elated to be off this train. I race out and notice that we're on the Outbound side. I decide to save that mystery for a different day, I need a drink.

Muni + Confusion = Business as usual.

Total Time: 1 hour, 4 minutes (approx.)
Where can you see more? HERE