Friday, June 09, 2006

The enigma of the 71

The 71 bus, which I tend to take home from work, is so weird, because while it is arguably the Creepiest Bus Route in San Francisco (measured in rough percentage of ubercreepy people that consistently ride it), it is also a place where friendships are made, lives are touched.

Take my ride home today, for example. I was getting major, red-alert heebie-jeebies from a dude who stalked onto the bus on Market Street and 9th. He was wearing not one, but TWO pairs of black jeans, the inner pair hiked up to his waist, the outer pair slung rakishy low and held tight with a studded belt. He also had what appeared to be a dog leash hanging out his back pocket and connected to his belt loop. One can only speculate what that could have been used for. He also had on two black tee shirts, layered, and black fingernail polish. Also, he was about 50 and had a bald head, and he started doing pull-ups on the hand bars in the back of the bus, then proceeded to shake them violently, as if he was testing to see how firmly they were really attached to the bus. We all breathed a nice sigh of relief when he got off at Haight and Fillmore.

Also on the bus was a sad looking lady with hair that dangled 2 feet from the ground. TWO FEET. I know this because I spent a long time staring at the straggly ends in a horrified stupor, trying to decide how close they were to dragging on the bus floor. When she came and sat down, she actually sat on her hair, and had to sort of lift it up and shimmy herself around so as not to catch her OWN HAIR under her OWN BUTT. I am shuddering just to think of it.

But, on the flipside, today a bald guy in a Dodgers cap and windbreaker came on and immediately struck up a conversation about the Beat writers with a small guy with sleeve tattoos, slip-on black Keds, and a newsboy cap. Those two chatted animatedly about Burroughs and Kerouac till the Dodgers guy got off ten minutes later. I also saw two more people saying "hey, good to meet you," to each other before going their separate ways. I thought, Wow, the 71 really brings people together. My heart was warmed.

However, my point about the heebie-jeebie factor on that bus route still stands, and even though it may inspire warm fuzzies, it's disconcerting to ride a bus where you look around and realize that MOST of the people on it -- not just one or two -- are either mentally ill, on drugs, or have stripper wig hair.

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