Thursday, October 06, 2016

Muni Driver of The Month

Saturday afternoon on Folsom Street Fair weekend, there was an afternoon party at the DNA Lounge which was spilling out onto 11th Street at its conclusion.

People were calling up ride services…

…and jumping into SUVs while I waited for a 47 Van Ness Muni bus to take me home to Civic Center.

It immediately felt like the opening scene of the Woody Allen movie, Stardust Memories, where all the beautiful people are riding on an adjoining train while Allen is trapped in a railway car full of grotesque, crazy people.

With the assistance of the wheelchair lift, a lady boarded the bus with seemingly all her worldly belongings, and the bus driver lifted a section of seating out for her to park them.

Soon after she was joined by another woman hauling innumerable bags in a rolling cart, and the driver put up the other wheelchair space so she could leave her stuff without blocking the aisle.

When I started groaning with dismay as each character appeared and spread out, the lady above burst into sympathetic laughter.

At Market and Van Ness, the lady with the most belongings departed and was replaced by a man in a wheelchair, a process that took another ten minutes.

In the 1970s, there used to be an employee recognition award where bus drivers would be nominated by passengers as the Muni Man of the Month, and the winners would appear on posters in the buses following a celebratory lunch. The SFMTA should bring back the tradition, minus the sexist name, because Muni drivers have the most difficult jobs in San Francisco. On an hourly basis they have to contend with terrible car drivers, entitled bicyclists, suicidal pedestrians, and completely crazy passengers. My first nomination for Muni Driver of the Month would be the gentleman above who dealt with all the madness on Saturday’s 47 bus with firmness, kindness and superhuman patience. “You can’t leave all that in the aisle, maam. Here, let me put these seats up for you,” was how he dealt with the mayhem.


Hattie said...

So when do we get the real services throw away people need?

Civic Center said...

Dear Hattie: There are plenty of services for "throw away people" in San Francisco, many hundreds of millions of dollars worth. My concern, as somebody who doesn't drive and has taken public transportation all my life in California (of all places), is that public transport should work for everyone who's actually trying to get somewhere. When the open air asylum population that has always existed in San Francisco decides public transport is where they are going to hang out, that's where I draw the line. I'm trying to use public transport to get somewhere: work, lunch, whatever, and I don't need crazy people acting out on buses as if it's their right, and neither do the other passengers or the drivers.

sfwillie said...

Dear Michael,

Is SF getting worse? Or is it moving from a familiar (to oldtimers) awfulness to an unfamiliar awfulness?

Slight factcheck regarding "open air asylum": My recall is that the word "homelessness" plus the large mentally ill street population came about when governor Ronald Asshole Reagan closed the state mental hospitals, promising instead "community-based treatment," which depended on crazy people taking their anti-psychotics diligently. Those falling off their meds became police problems, and Muni-driver problems.

Prior to Reagan, we had "transients," and, seemingly, enough flophouse-beds. The only people sleeping on the street were those too drunk to locomote.

We never should have elected a governor whose middle name is "Asshole."

Remember when Gov. Gipper tried to solve some budgetary problem by asking state workers to work one or more Saturdays for free! VLR--very low response. After that he became leader of the free world.

Consider the crazies' POV, how bewildered they must be that a Muni bus seems like a good place to hang out!

Civic Center said...

Dear Willie: Agree with everything you write, and yes, it's gotten worse. Because of my new full-time job I am stuck taking the 47 way more often than I want, and the craziness is not occasional but daily. I feel lucky and blessed when I can take a 47 from the CalTrain station to Civic Center and nobody acts out a serious mental condition for the entire bus to appreciate.

Rachel said...

Oh man, sounds like a trying day. If you know the driver's ID number you can contact Muni to let them know how great he was.

I do often wonder why the drivers let people on with so much stuff. It really slows down the commute and takes away room for more passengers.

Hattie said...

Well, on a Seattle bus a couple of bros called me a "fucking cunt," but I still think we are doing a shitty job of taking care of throwaway people.

janinsanfran said...

You catch what I routinely see on Muni -- amidst the craziness, everyone else keeping their heads down in their phones. No wonder.

Greg said...

the operator's union withdrew participation in any "employee of the month" type stuff at Muni during a labor dispute, and it's unclear if it's ever coming back.