Where the Muni Buses Sleep at Night

Muni busses at nightMuni buses are the red blood cells of San Francisco, which makes the people the oxygen. The Mission is probably the city’s belly, and downtown is its the liver, but Oakland is also in the running.

To most people, the buses are ordinary vehicles of public transit, purely utilitarian pieces of equipment with no other purpose besides shifting around the city’s biomass.

But I like to believe the Muni buses have a life of their own, that they think their own thoughts and maybe have crushes on the other bus lines (the 38L is pretty cute), that they have worries and fears and hopes and dreams and that maybe when they grow up, they want to be something like astronauts or ballerinas or social workers and preschool teachers.

They spend all day giving up their bodies to the abuse of a city with many hills, wierdos, fruits, and lots and lots of kale. They ferry the humans and their pets around daily, with some also taking on responsibility for the nighttime people, an entirely different breed. They worry about doing their duties properly, about the weird guy in back bothering their patrons, about their Muni operator who seems to be having a bad day. Just like everyone else, they want to get to where they’re going and want to know that they’ll be safe on the way home at night.

The Muni bus is a social creature, and depends on interaction with others of its kind for personal fulfillment. They greet each other in the streets as they pass, tell each other jokes through the electrical wires and share stories about the crazy and wonderful things that happened to them during the day and at night. They race each other and comment on the quality and personality of other buses’ patrons and on whether or not anyone said thank-you to the operator.

And at night, they all go to the same parking lot, except for the ones out taking care of the night walkers, and they cuddle up together. For a while, as everyone’s arriving there’s plenty of chatter and asking about what the other ate during the day and what did you do and how is your back pain or your friend doing. But then everyone settles into their rows, and the chatter gets quieter, and it’s about deeper concerns and worries. “I just don’t know what to do.” “You can tell me anything.” “I don’t know how to tell her I don’t love her anymore.” “I want to believe there’s something out there but I’m not sure.” “You know we’ll be together always.” “I don’t know…I just don’t know.”

As these words float into the night, the buses drift off to sleep, surrounded by everyone they know, resting for the challenges of the day to come. Under the stars they huddle with the sounds of shifting machinery and deep sighs of loneliness or contentment. They wake early the next morning, ready to do it all over again, wondering if they’ll ever know the answers to their questions.

If you liked this post, you might like Me and God Kicking it at Six Flags and God in the Kitchen, Making Casserole

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50 thoughts on “Where the Muni Buses Sleep at Night

  1. I rode the Muni every day for eight years –the 10 Monterrey and the 5 McAlister to school and the 5 again to work. Then it was the K car to get home at night. It was nice to reminisce. Thanks for the story!

  2. I used to do half of my writing while riding MUNI. And very often I was riding MUNI just so I could write. The predictability of the routes and the spontaneity of the riders makes for a perfect writing environment (for me, anyway). Thank you for this piece – now I’m wondering what the busses were writing about me writing about them.

  3. DMNG says:

    I ride Muni on a daily basis and never even thought of this. I love your use of metaphor. Could definitely see this as a movie animation one day too. :) props!

  4. I loved your use of personification in this piece. San Francisco is one of my favorite cities to visit for many reasons, one of them being an excellent transportation system that is easy to use.

  5. L. Palmer says:

    I find public transportation, including San Francisco’s, to be fascinating. It’s so easy to take for granted, and yet there’s a whole world there.

  6. Aah, MUNI – all human life (and quite a bit that isn’t) is there. Looking forward to a month waiting in line for hours, being entertained by the “characters” that ride it and being barked at by those heroes that drive the buses. Great post!

  7. I love this piece! My father drove for the Muni when I was a child and often my mother would park my sister, brother and I in the front seat of my father’s bus for an hour or so while she went shopping. This was many years ago, of course. I feel as if I grew up on the Muni, this reminds me of those days. I used to think the buses had lives of their own, too. Congrats on being FP’d!

  8. osherb says:

    cultclassik.wordpress.com
    Pinterest.com/cultclassik

  9. Alap Parikh says:

    I loved it! The best part about it is the central idea, the basic concept. In fact, I loved it so much that I reblogged it (alapparikh.wordpress.com)

  10. Alap Parikh says:

    Reblogged this on Jobs are a form of slavery and commented:
    I simply loved this piece. I can’t place exactly what it is and I don’t think I would be able to.. You may have found it on Freshly Pressed, but in case you missed it!

  11. intentional or not, great metonymy.

  12. umashankar says:

    Beautiful, throbbing post that invoke images. the personification seems allegorical.

  13. Roshni says:

    Brilliant post, awesome imagination! Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  14. such a beautiful connotation to the muni…my friend and i fell in love with them while we were in sfo..though they often tend to snail their way through at times and make you wait for what seem hours, they are worth it.
    congratulations!

  15. TJ Johnston says:

    Just as long as Disney Pixar doesn’t turn them into cutesy animated figures …

  16. Such a good read. Towards the end of it, I was almost feeling sorry for them.

  17. Isnt it funny that they have this categorized as fiction? I thought maybe writing would be better. Because there is some truth’s in your piece! ;) Congrats on being FP’ed!

  18. Reblogged this on New American Gospel! and commented:
    — J.W.

  19. TheZingR says:

    I didn’t think there was anyone else in the world that daydreamed about SF’s public transportation. The only thing I love as much as Muni is Bart – I’ve always loved trains. Great to find an SF blogger, looking forward to reading more from you.

  20. nikajones225 says:

    I liked this, just got back from San Francisco, you brought up an interesting point and thank you for sharing this with us :-)

  21. Kate says:

    This is really cute, though I don’t have nearly as much love or understanding for the Muni buses as you do! I really enjoyed this all the same :)

  22. andy1076 says:

    Love this, the fantasies that indeed tell great tales and breathe life to the buses :)

  23. elenamusic says:

    I never thought Muni buses could be cute, but you’ve gone and done it. I use Muni all the time living in San Francisco, and it great to get to work and yes, hang in the Mission on weekends, haha. Great post!

  24. segmation says:

    I would like to know if the Muni buses and BART ever get together at night as well. What do you think!

  25. Sounds like you’d make a great children’s fantasy writer, giving buses a life of their own.

  26. misedukate says:

    Reblogged this on .

  27. tedstrutz says:

    Do you think the crème de la crème, the Cable Cars talk to them?

  28. Shawn Bailey says:

    I could see the Pixar film rolling while I was reading.

  29. tomwisk says:

    As a former busser I know the affection you can develop for a bus line. The one in my home town isn’t as big as SF’s but when I rode the daytime driver was the longest employed driver in the company. I made friends with a lot of passengers who rode the same time I did. Granted it’s not prime territory for picking up women. It did help me appreciate the people who ride daily and form a community within a community.

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