#22 Fillmore Bus – Seating Beating

October 2002     San Francisco

Ok chilrens, lets get back on our favorite bus line, the rolling home of all that is unsavory about public transit, the #22 Fillmore.  Today the theme is Beat-Downs.

I rode home one night with the evening after-work crowd: office workers, students, working men and derelicts.  Not as colorful as the late-night crowd, just a standard cross-section of urban rush hour in the city.  A leathery old black man was sitting up front in the handicapper section, with his light-weight aluminum walker folded up next to him.  He would not shut up.  He talked loudly and repetitively about anything and nothing, and generally made a crowded ride less bearable.   Clearly he was undermedicated and overserved, a common sight in an idealist town that rolls out the red carpet for all of America’s marginal populations.  No way to hush this guy without a big free dose of methadone, right?


A skinny young skateboarder got on, and not seeing a regular seat, sat in the wheelchair seat across from Ol’ Mudfoot.  The old man fixed a cloudy, baleful stare on the grommet, and immediately commenced to badgering his new target. Nothing was off-limits:  the skater’s possible lack of a job, his generally unkempt appearance and metallic enhancements, his posture, and his audacity to sit in the broken-down peoples’ section up front.  Skate-boy ignored, stared out the window, adjusted his piercings, and finally turned and said: “Man, why don’t you just shut the fuck up, old man?”

Oh, Jesus H. tap-dancing Christ.  It felt like the set of an old Western movie, when a shadow fell across the wooden sidewalk. Saloon doors creaked and spurs jingled, as the skirts and orphan children scurried out of sight. Passengers shifted uncomfortably, coughed, changed seats and edged toward the exits.  Even the piano player stopped.


In one motion, skater-boy seemed to shrink by half, and the ancient geezer was up on his gnarled old feet and over that kid like a brown paper bag on a bottle of malt.


a sharp poke to the head


a finger-jab to the neck


a shove into the window


a withering smack to the head

Skate-boy put his forearm up in defense, but the old man took it as a push-off.  Up came the walker. Down came the walker. Again and again on the skater-punk, on a crowded, moving bus.  This was no small athletic task, but he was just warming up.


crash! walker vs. skinny boy


crash! walker vs. skateboard


crash!  skate-punk grabbed the walker and held on.


backhand to the head.


another stinging backhand.


punch to the ear.


Finally, the driver pulled over, the skater jumped up and crouched near the door trailing blood, fear and remorse.  The old bastard was wheezing but not dead yet.  Some other riders heckled and hollered.  For the most part, it seemed the horror-stricken vegetarians nearby were buried in their newspapers, sporting rigid commuter-face, and wondering who was next in line.  Pacifists.  I had fallen halfway into the aisle, laughing so hard I thought I would vomit up a rib.   I have witnessed funnier scenes, but really, I cannot remember when.

I suppose the bus driver called the bus-police. He opened the exits and the kid erupted out the back door and smudged away into the greasy night. Most other passengers exited, muttering about a cursed, wretched bus.  I floated home.  Ol’ Mudfoot did not wait around for the transit cops, to everyone’s benefit.  He walkered his way through moving traffic, down an alley and into Fillmore lore.  He is still out there I suppose, riding the public transit lines like the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse, administering social justice for ‘cappers everywhere, one smash at a time.

(artwork by Walter Koning at MuniShirts.)


Tags: , , ,

5 Responses to “#22 Fillmore Bus – Seating Beating”

  1. Flash Says:

    That’s a little different than the Vancouver SkyTrain. Even the crazy homeless are polite up there.

  2. tward Says:

    The double deuce! How I love thee let me count the ways.

    Fight with fish net shirt wearing over the hill wanna be pimp and his lady. Check.

    Newly spayed and neutered cats escaping from adjacent passengers’ carriers to climb around and on us fellow passengers. Yep.

    Never on time. Always.

    The perfect cross section route map – Marina to China basin and plenty in between? That’s the one. Ride it long and ride it often if you can.

    The double deuce is the number one.

  3. loneplacebo Says:

    That’s some crazy ass shit. That’s why I hate Muni.

  4. lowgrau Says:

    In the 60’s the 22 was known as “a nuthouse on wheels.”

  5. D. Gonorth Says:

    That’s some crazy ass shit. That’s why I LOVE Muni.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: