built like a fireplug on battery

another funny thing happened to me on the way into work this morning…

i’ve caught the ubiquitous #4 from trusty Spencer in Marin. as sometimes happens with golden gate transit busses, our driver is one of those who seems to not yet have the hang of the intricate relationship of air-brakes & a 40-ton passenger coach. You know the kind of ride, herky-jerky, not a single stationary torsoe on the bus, making the walk to the door while in motion really comical. But i’m engrossed in my Kingsolver, the way only Kingsolver can engross, so i tended not to notice it too much.

As always, i chime-in with a stop request as soon as the beast lumbers away from the bus-top at Levis Plaza. For the toothed driver, their next stop then should be at the north corner of Green & Battery. But not our hero Achey Brakey. He proceeds to blast past the next stop, prompting me to break the silence with some theatrical bass: “Yo! Green! Stop at Green!”

Immediately he pulls over on the south side of Green & brings the beast to a very rough stop. For anyone familiar with this intersection, you will recall turn of the century railroad tracks along Green, providing a rough roadway for the Battery Speedway. So he’s right on the corner, and after such a bouncy stop, i sally off without so much as a thank you or good morning.

As i walk the 10 feet of Battery to round the corner to go up Green, the world starts to do That Slow Motion thing. The bus has to make an extraordinarily sharp left turn to clear the parked cars and get back into the flow of Battery. But the ass of the bus is swinging far wider then i think the driver could ever have intended. And good god that corner fire hydrant is remarkably close to the edge of the sidewalk…


it was so effortless. upon contact with the hydrant, so symbollic in its strength, surely the thin metal panels on the bus would give & crumple. But then, this *is* a fire hydrant, and that *is* a bus. How un-cinematic would it be for hydrant to stay-put and for the bus to crumple? it was effortless. it was as if the hydrant wasnt even bolted down. the ass of the bus seemed merely to push the plug over.

and for a split second, it seemed as if the plug might have been a dudd. For as it was tipping over, only a dark brown mass of liquid started to bubble out. yet within a split-second later, with no less then 6 feet between myself & the hydrant, a column of whitewater 5 feet wide & an easy 20 feet high appeared roaring before me. this was surely surreal, for it’s all going so slow, with my reactions clearly on autopilot as i dance away from the widening column and out of the way of the massive pool of water quickly forming below it.

I could not believe how easily the plug tipped over. And apparently, neither could the driver. For there he was continuing his route down Battery. Again, here comes the autopilot as i pipe-off one loud & sharp whistle in the direction of the #4. The tattooes mullet of a driver that idles off the bus and towards the column of water & his former passenger is a mixture of dumb of humour. He’s smiling & mouthing “wow” and asks with a smirk, “DID I DO THAT?”

Yea, you did that.

The weirdest part of all of this was how insanely fast DWP was on-scene with a truck. Literally 2 minutes after the TINK there were flashing orange lights & flashy orange jumpsuits.

(Originally Posted: 2003_0909)

my morning with simon

a funny thing happened to me on the way into work this morning…

i’ve just parked me car at the specncer parking lot & was making my way down the foggy damp hill to the southbound buspad as i have done countless times before. upon entering the tunnel under 101, i hear the familiar sound of a porsche downshifting fromwhatever into 2nd as it too enters the tunnel approaching southbound 101. ask kevin, we’ve discussed this: there is something signature in the way a porsche sounds, a higher-pitch, an almost straining under the weight of a powerful engine. this time however, the rev’s keep dying down as the car enters the tunnel behind me & all of a sudden ends up pulling over right next to me as i’m walking.

“Financial District?” comes the thick british accent from the drivers seat. Its funny, but in that split second before i trull ybegin to process this question, i’m thinking that this bloke isnt going to be avoiding toll with just 2 passengers. but then, i forget that as he unlocks the door & i hop in. and then it all happens so quick. oh dear jebuz it was all so quick.

I’m reaching for the seatbelt, but am having trouble contorting my new weight to reach it with me right hand. However, it makes no difference anyway because our driver has already thrown the wee carerra around the curving on-ramp at-speed. As you may or may not know, seatbelt retentioners lock when their vehicle is so much as a few degress off of center. tug as i might, i cant get he belt to give as my new friends buggy really stretches her legs now that we’re on 101 proper. by the time the car finally rights itself & i am offered the belt, we are clearly breaking federal & state vehicular speed laws. it was pure luck that the volume of traffic from spencer all the way down to the GGB entrance was populated with other cars poking along at 70. For without them, there would be nothing to bob & weave around as the car, still, continues to gain speed, and as our hero effortlessly leans on the gearbox up to 5th. perhaps egged-on, for i swear i heard my voice say: ‘FUCK YEA’ & ‘GO FASTER’, no doubt controlled by the evil spirits deep within me.

the sound of a porsche as heard from the sidewalk is something unique. however, the sound of being right in the cab, right in-front of the engine pushing you is quite another. there is no economy of gears with these cars. there is only the methods of driving & roads there-upon that will allow you to keep things hovering just south of redline.

as all of southbound 101 must, we pass the smokey on the right shoulder, and had to retard the speed down to hominid levels. in the above span of road, he’s introduced himself as ‘simon’ from the UK, that he’s in commercial real-estate, and that he hopes the driving hasnt ‘startled’ me. with OASIS blaring on the CD, and the forced-calm of GGB traffic, we proceed to have a pleasant conversation. until the toll plaza that is. for once again, our hero simon bitchslaps the gears up thru their revs. 2-seconds in first followed by 2-seconds in second only to plane-out in third at 70 or 80MPH with the engine literally screaming behind us. I can literally feel the weight of my groin creeping up into my stomache, much in the way a rollercoaster. The road stretching from 19th ave split to the Exploratorium curve took no less then 10 seconds with the amber-coloured guage pointing between 85 & 90. Think about that. All the while we’re having this perfunctory conversation about credit card interest rates or the bleak future of web-testing.

And thats the way the rest of the drive played. Stabbing it at green-lights, continuous accelerations in 2nd & 3rd, & hard gear-assisted breaking all other times. Driving as if auditioning for a remake to BULLIT. And NOT ONCE does the converation ever refer to the driving, or the horse, or the speed with which we’ve just made it from Spencer in Sausalito to the corner of Sansome & Broadway during morning rush-hour. Roughly 12 minutes.

By far the funnest drive into work i’ve had in a long time. Had to share…

Carry on…

(Originally Posted: 2003_0903)