If Mayor Gavin and the Board of Supervisors want to get more popular in this city, they need to stop all this policy jazz, and come up with some cool gimmicks. For example, when it was a spectacular 80 degrees even on the westside today in San Francisco, they need to call a press conference, issue a proclamation declaring it “Official San Francisco Goof Off and Enjoy the Weather Day” and give everyone a free pass on the Muni.
True, it won’t solve the world’s ills, nor will it satiate the dour, serious types that seem to dominate policy chatter, but guess what? No one cares. On days like today, it’s time to put away the speechifyin’ and enjoy a nice day outside.
Now, until recently I’ve had to work on site for a client, but as of yesterday I’m back to my home office routine. One of the very few benefits of said routine is that if the weather is hot and windless at 10am on a Thursday, I can declare it my own “Get the Hell Out of the So Called Office and Get Outside Day” and do my work at night when it’s cooled off. So that’s what I did.
But like many, when confronted with a random day off, the question came up – what to do first? I decided that since it was a Save the Air Day, I’d use our Might N and affiliated routes to randomly have a tour of the city. (The fact that I already buy a monthly bus pass did nothing to confuse the exuberance of the moment).
So after mailing off some Netflix DVDs at the post office, I flipped a coin. Heads, I was headed to Ocean Beach on the N. Tails, I was inbound.
It was Heads. Off I went.
It was a nice air-conditioned ride too, and I looked around at all the way out west establishments along the way, thinking ahead to that whole N-Owl pub crawl we plan on doing later this summer. But once I got to Ocean Beach, I began to wonder – “now what?”
I wasn’t really in the mood to go to the actual beach itself, and there is not much out there to just “see.” So I took a look at the route for the 18 to the Legion of Honor, and decided rather than wait for a bus that may or may not show up, instead just walk it for a while.
It was nice. I bought a bottle of water and walked along the ocean, and damn, I wish I had my stupid camera with me. The sky was crystal clear, and there was not a hint of fog or cold anywhere. True, the hairy fat guy without a shirt reading the paper at the side of the road took a bit away from the moment, but I blotted it out of my scene and enjoyed the walk.
I ended up near the Cliff House but then decided to radically change direction (thanks to a coin flip) and found the start of the famous 38 Geary line, which is the nation’s busiest transit line. (It is also one of the most f*cked up from personal experience – I actually moved out of a place after a month after dealing with this stupid line). I figured it might be fun to see it before it gets all crazy and got on. Nothing like random chance, right?
It was kinda fun if only because I was in a part of town I can see easily from my home in the Inner Sunset, and I wasn’t planning on staying on it all the way downtown (I’m not a glutton for punishment). I ended up getting off in the mid 20s in the Avenues and was originally planning to find that Albertson’s that is being closed and is having some sort of super-fab sale. But I gave up on that and ended up walking towards Sea Cliff (which is known as the neighborhood Democrats love to hate) for the hell of it. Hey it was a nice day, why not?
Eventually I ended up walking into the semi public semi private park known as The Presidio. I used to use the Presidio as a shortcut to the Golden Gate Bridge when I was a daily commuter from Sausalito to South City. Aside from that I’ve bowled there a few times but other than that, the Presidio hasn’t always been on my top 10 destinations. What a mistake!
I walked to Baker Beach, but eventually decided to take a 29 to Lombard St. But as the bus approached it wasn’t a Muni bus, but instead the PresidiGo shuttle bus. What fun that was !
You get a much different route around the attractions and byways in this former military base, and it’s always free. Again, I was bedeviled by the fact that I didn’t have my camera – suffice to say if you are a native and have not done this route or if you’re a tourist looking for something unique, get on the bus.
Eventually I got off the bus at Lombard St. and took a walk through the neighborhood, as I have done in the past. But by the time I got to Van Ness Avenue, I wasn’t sure where to go next. It was time for a coin flip and the coin flip said to get on the 49 Van Ness. Umm…OK.
But after a few minutes I realized this was a mistake and got off at Geary. It was just too lame to be on, and hey, there was Tommy’s Joynt right in my face. Although I wasn’t in the mood for a pastrami sandwich or a beer, I figured it might be a good place to cool off with a diet coke and lime while I decided my next coin flip. I watched a delayed broadcast of the Ghana/US World Cup game, but since I already knew the result, it wasn’t much fun. I got back on the much-maligned 38 Geary thanks to the coin’s whims. and figured I’d see what would happen.
BIG mistake. Now, as I said before, the 38 is one of the most heavily traveled lines in the world. Add to the fact it was “Save the Air” day (aka Deadbeat Day) and you can imagine how packed this thing was. I got off at Fillmore just to get rid of the smell and the heat in that mobile sardine can, and decided I’d stop in the Safeway, buy a few vegetables, take the 22 to the N and go home. It was almost 5pm.
And there my road to Hell began.
Now, normally the 22 Fillmore is a crapshoot any day you choose. You can get great kimchi at that little Korean market there, as well as tons of other good stuff, and there is a Safeway there too. But getting on the 22 itself may mean either riding it surfer-style with your treasures, or not. You never know.
I got on and it was not so bad. The hipster doofus iPod guy didn’t realize it was Free Ride Day and was surprised. Hooray for him. But I got off at the N-Judah stop at Church and Duboce and there my travails began.
It started with a long wait, one that would try the patience of Job. That alone was not a big deal, but when the stupid N showed up, it was packed tighter than a Tokyo subway, and no one was getting off the train! It was futile to even try, and when I saw some poor old lady trying to get on, I said “screw it” and figured she deserved getting on the train more than I did. I ended up talking to the Muni driver who was getting off work and he told me that there was some “unusually odd problem” with the trains because it was so late, and so packed.
Fine. I’ll take the Ghetto 6 Parnassus.
Another “Big Mistake.” I ended up waiting even longer. After 6 hours of walking and whatnot I just wanted to go home, and would have paid for a cab, but cabs don’t like that part of town at that time of day, I guess. So I waited and finally a Ghetto 6 Parnassus showed up. I didn’t care anymore, I just wanted to go home and a 6 can get me kinda close.
In the end it was fine, but it was a tiny sour note to an otherwise glorious day. A fellow rider joked with me that these “free days” on mass transit actually punish those of us who ride it every day. I asked her to explain and she laid it out pretty simply: “You paid $45 for a monthly pass. A free day gets you nothing you didn’t already get. These freebies get a free day. But what is your reward for ‘Saving the Air?'”
An interesting point. But at this point I don’t care. I’m home. I had a great day. It was hot and sunny in San Francisco, and no amount of Muni foibles, hippie bullsh*t, or politics was detracting from my time. IT was a good day to be in town and I was happy to be there. Next time I’m taking pictures, though.