Muni is a hub for all sorts: yuppies, crazies, hipsters, homeless, etc. If you live in San Francisco, then you have taken a ride on a Muni bus at some point. The 14 is especially a magnet for the psychodelics, vagabonds and schizophrenics (yes, in that order). I happen to ride the 14 most often and I'm always thankful if I get through a ride without any incident happening on the bus.
It's a bad ride and everyone keeps to themselves except for the occasional evangelical, Jesus hating, lithium addict carrying a flea-ridden sleeping bag like Linus. Most passengers are so preoccupied with their phone to even turn their head if someone collapses on the floor of the bus.
However, yesterday when I got on at 5th and Mission, there was a Santa Claus on board sitting near the front of the bus. I figured he ended his workday and like the rest of us he just wanted to get home and not be bothered by anyone. But I was wrong. When a ragged, dusty almost homeless person came on board and couldn't keep his balance as the bus lurched forward, the Santa Claus caught his arm and said, "Hey there, you okay?" I saw everyone who was standing turn their head in shock at this display of niceness.
I thought it was an isolated incident, but when the bus came to Eighth and Mission, the heart of junkie town, Santa gave up his seat for a ragged old woman who couldn't keep her pants on over her hips. I thought more about who would sit in that seat after she was gone than I did about Santa's generosity. But now that I think about, that was quite generous of Santa. And when an old man on a cane nearly fell over while standing on the bus because no one would give up their seat for him, Santa told him to hold his red velvety arm.
Was it the clothes? I'm sure under the suit and hat there's one of us in there -- a selfish, easily repulsed, scornful being with an acerbic sense of humor. But whatever was going on, Santa stayed in character even after his workday was over. I was impressed. I truly believe it was the clothes.
Santa got off at South Van Ness and Mission. We were all sad to see him go, especially a lithium addict who screamed out as Santa left, "God bless you and America!" Santa waved bye to him. I waved bye at Santa.