A Story About Riding the Muni

“Please keep your eyes up, and phone down, while riding the muni.”

The girl sitting perpendicular to me, to my right, fidgeted. Shifting her weight left to right, she quickly swiped and pressed four-digits — the key to her alibi.

Unphased, the man continued to share his unadulterated thoughts on all the females sitting within earshot. A tall-can, shielded by a wrinkled brown bag, acting as his mic.

The woman across from me looked straight ahead. For a second I tried to put myself in her position, wondering if the feelings spurred from the brazen, complimentary growl, leaned more towards being uncomfortable, or being afraid.

As the 6 pulled up to Hyde, repeating it’s patented jolt-to-stop, I finally closed my book and spoke, hoping to break the tension.

“Hey man, those look like some comfortable shoes.”

The fact that I was not equipped with long-hair or breasts, thankfully seemed to be overlooked in this case. Cockeyed, he considered his response.

“Thanks, I got dem from da backa da milk truck”

A friend once told me that she loved how much I loved riding on an SF muni bus. Recently, I’ve viewed the muni less as a vessel that gets you where you need to be while giving you room to think freely, and more as a plastic prison, built to represent all that’s wrong with our city’s societal habits.

On the muni, backpacks get their own seats, iPhones trump eye-contact, and there’s no need for chatter. I fell into this pattern, seeking refuge in a playlist and typically only forfeiting my seat if a cane was involved.

Now, on this day, despite having no idea that milk trucks delivered shoes, I talked with that kooky, gruff, ladies-man, for 14 blocks. As our conversation concluded, I didn’t come away with any insight into what spot on Haight has the best green curry, or where to snag some great pre-worn henley’s, or even just thoughts on that morning’s small earthquake.

But it was oddly energizing. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t step off the bus with a bit of a strut.

Chatter invites community. Even the best playlists (and I curate some damn good ones) cannot quell the monotony of a daily commute. I picture a time, drenched in sepia tones, where you stepped onto a bus and were greeted by name. A time where passengers caught up with a friend, or exchanged pleasentries with a familiar face before getting lost in a book.

In life, I am steadily learning the importance of being present, and this especially applies to the SF muni…

So keep your eyes up, phone down, and an open mind. You never know whose day will be made with a bit of engagement (yours included).