Ah, Muni: San Francisco’s public transit system and favorite four-letter word. We can’t live with it, can’t live without it, and definitely can’t help but meet a couple weird, wonderful people during our daily commutes. Because if America is a melting pot, SF is a thick, nutty fondue. And somewhere along the route from startup-packed SoMa to the tie-dyed Haight, the whole crazy concoction boils over.
1. The Techie
Let’s get this one out of the way early. This person is either a startup CEO, an app developer, or an unpaid intern who’s hoping it’ll all pay off with a big acquisition or IPO. When they’re not taking Uber to work from their exorbitantly priced studio, they’re busing like the rest of us. And if you don’t have the latest iPhone model, you might get one of these:
2. The Hippie
This guy has been around since the Summer of Love, and he’s seen it all: the dot-com bubble as it grew and burst, the rent as it climbed and climbed, and countless pastry trends’ 15 minutes of fame (from cupcake to cronut). You’ll find him on the first 71 of the morning: as chill as he was in 1969, and not getting why the Techie is putting out such harsh, judgmental vibes, ya know? It’s just a phone, man. Speaking of which… Can he borrow yours?
3. The Tourist
Tourists are a breeze to spot in SF: Just look for the folks in tank tops and cutoff shorts, huddled together for warmth while thumbing through a brochure detailing Al Capone’s stint at Alcatraz. Someone likely warned them about the Bay Area’s windy, foggy clime, but all they heard was “California!” and packed their bags accordingly. Spot ‘em on the cable cars, the 30 to the In-N-Out on Fisherman’s Wharf, or the 5 to (especially chilly) Ocean Beach.
4. The Minimally Dressed
For residents eager to show a little skin, SF offers no shortage of opportunities: the annual No Pants Subway Ride, Critical Mass, World Naked Bike Ride, Pride, Bay to Breakers, a Saturday on the north end of Baker Beach… or just, you know, any old Saturday. Any day at all, really. Don’t forget the strategically placed leather of the Folsom Street Fair — the largest fetish festival in the world—and the dude using a current issue of 7×7 to cover his nethers. Confident and well-read? We’ll take it.
5. The Giants Fan
FEAR THE BEARD! PANDAMONIUM! MVPosey! If these diehards aren’t setting buses on fire to celebrate our boys’ latest win, they’re riding home from the game in a half-drunk daze, crumbs from AT&T Park’s famous garlic fries still dusting their jerseys. Don’t be surprised if the N is a little foul the morning after: Tens of thousands of people have been bleeding orange and black all over the seats.
6. The Salesman
Whichever bus this guy is taking, you can bet it’s going to be a fun ride. He’s carrying all kinds of edibles—chocolate truffles, cookies, brownies, take your pick—along with cannabis-infused hot sauce, “mind-altering” lollipops, and amazing reviews on Yelp. You can find him on the 33 or the J to (where else?) Dolores Park.
7. The Pregame On Wheels
Maybe this group didn’t have the chance to wrap up their pregame at the apartment, or maybe they want to ensure a nice, lengthy buzz that’ll get them through the inevitable line at Vessel or Ruby Skye. Either way, after a few drags from a conspicuous-looking brown paper bag, they’re taking turns spinning around the bus’s safety poles and getting cozy on the driver’s lap. Hey, watch the road!
8. The Retired Cyclist
After a few minutes of fumbling to mount his bike onto the rack on the front of the bus, the Retired Cyclist boards to a chorus of eye rolls and disapproving murmurs. “You’ve got wheels already. Why you gotta hold up ours?” Unperturbed, the cyclist goes about opening all the windows, no doubt yearning to feel the wind in his hair, and makes a big show when the bus driver doesn’t give a bike crew the right-of-way at an intersection of the Wiggle.
9. The Know-It-All
Did you know the house used for exterior shots on Full House is actually on Broderick Street, not Alamo Square? Did you know, when filming Mrs. Doubtfire, Chicago was the studio’s first set choice, but they eventually went with San Francisco? Did you know the cable car is the world’s only moving National Historic Monument? This person knows. He’s a self-appointed tour guide with a bottomless trough of unsolicited information, and it’s insufferable. But when he winds up on the same bus as the Tourist (above)? Well, it’s kind of beautiful.
10. The Thief
Remember that outdated iPhone in #1? Yeah, this person is totally going to steal that. No hiding place is safe: purse, back pocket, cleavage (ladies of #7, I’m looking at you). So hold tight to that thing you cherish, and don’t let any fools lay their filthy paws on it.