Guy next to me blaring a rap song, guy across from me sleeping pretty hard, guys behind me cracking tall boys, woman across the aisle cooing at a sweet baby hanging off her like the cutest necklace ever, other woman across the aisle is a possible tweaker but she is currently keeping to herself, so most folks are aware of her, but no worries yet. It’s Friday, early evening, we’re on a slow ass 14, but it is still light out, kinda warm/not cold, and the night feels young and promising. It is the weekend. We all mostly ignore each other, but if we catch eyes there are small smiles and nods. We’re here, we’re alive, we’re alright. It’s enough.
Then boom, a loud voice from the front of the bus. ‘Show your passes or transfers’. The guys behind me mutter ‘policía’, and I see open cans being quickly shoved into backpacks. The guy next to me stops his music, mutters, I hear ‘fuck I don’t have a transfer’. I normally have a pass, but lent it out today. I paid my $2, however so do have a transfer in my pocket. I also happen to have a second one from earlier that day, now expired, and I slip it to music dude since it is better than nothing if the cop doesn’t look to hard at the time.
And it is indeed a cop, SFPD badge, gun and all, not the MUNI POP cops (POP–Proof Of Payment). I can’t help but think there must be something better this man could be spending his time doing to keep our city streets safe beyond rousting folks who didn’t pay two bucks to ride down Mission Street. Surely someone left their Air B&B and is publicly drinking or peeing on a lawn on their way to Outside Lands, currently happening across town? But here he is. He shakes sleeping dude, saying ‘transfer’. Guy mutters, doesn’t wake up. Another shoulder shake from the cop, guy wakes up. ‘Transfer’, says the cop. ‘Nope, I ain’t got one’ says the dude. ‘Follow me please, sir.’. ‘I got free rides for life!’ ‘Yeah, follow me’. Off he goes.
‘Transfer’. One of the tall boys doesn’t have it, shakes his head. ‘You got ID, uh, tienes ID?’ ‘Si.’ ‘Follow me’.
Now a few folks, your humble narrator included, are semi-heckling the cop. I pulled out my phone and am video taping, just for fun, but being me I didn’t hit the record button right, so no go. Sigh. People saying ‘No one cares if those guys ride for free’, ‘Go bust some real criminals’, etc. Cop ignores us, gets off, and we roll on. Music man looks at me and says ‘You are my guardian angel and I want to give you a hug so bad right now!’ He reads in my look I’m not a hugging strangers type, so sticks out his hand ‘Thank you. I’m Roland’. “Monica’ I say with a shake. ‘I thought for sure they were coming on to pop me for playing music, which I do to share with all the people as a beautiful thing, but I know sometimes the language is bad’. He turns up the song again and leans back, the baby across the way giggles as the bus bounces him up and down, I hear someone behind me crack a can, and on we roll.